You decide how to love yourself

Laaiba Mahmood, Managing Editor

To be honest, I’ve never spent much time thinking about what it means to love myself. I know that the mainstream way to practice self-love is to do face masks, bath with bath bombs, splurge on something, subscribe to the whole “treat yo’self” philosophy Donna Meagle endorses in “Parks and Recreation.” But something about this belief irks me.

It’s as if without spending, you can’t love yourself. At least that’s what we’re told. Left and right influencers promote products and ideals based on the belief that buying is investing in the love you have for yourself.

Ariana Grande’s song “7 Rings” is the perfect example of glorified materialism. Consider the lyric “Happiness is the same price as red bottoms.” If I own a pair of Louboutins I’ll be happier, more inclined to love myself?

To some extent, rewarding yourself for your hard work is a form of self-love. And if that helps you support yourself and helps you relax, then by all means do it. Retail therapy works (as long as you don’t have buyer’s remorse like me).

But inevitably, it leads to comparing yourself to others and feeling a decline in self-worth because you might have less than others.

Self-love is so much more internal. It takes a while to understand it and practice it in a truly self-beneficial way. And one of the most important aspects of it is eliminating comparisons with those around you.

Twelve-year-old me and eighteen-year-old me are markedly different in the way we appreciate our self-worth. In the past, I didn’t appreciate myself or my potential, and it showed in my constantly negative attitude. But over the years becoming self-aware has pushed me to stand up for myself and my beliefs.

Recognizing self-worth is what allows the practice of self-care. It’s okay to be frustrated with yourself, but remember that you’re doing the best you can.

We’re a society of givers. We give our energy, our time, advice and our love more readily to others than we give it to ourselves. But to be compassionate for yourself, it’s vital to be non-judgemental about a current situation.

By nature, we are harsher on ourselves than we are on others. Rather than harboring this extremely critical view of ourselves, we must recognize the issue and care for ourselves the way we would for a close friend.

All of this being said, I’d say I love myself. Despite not having actively thought about it that often, for the most part I’m there for myself.

   I can rely on myself to trust in my instinct and do what’s best for me, regardless of what anyone may think. And with the support of my friends, too, that feeling is supported even further.

The most clear way I’ve found that I practice self-love is by journaling. Not every night, and not only when things aren’t going well, but whenever it feels natural to think about where I was a few weeks ago, where I am now and how all of it has affected me. Sometimes it’s even as simple as writing lists to stay organized and having a place to write down all my thoughts that keeps me sane.

There is no shame in writing down how you feel and having a conversation with yourself about how the day went. Unconsciously, that’s how I’ve been engaging in a self-supportive habit for a little over a year now.

So whether it’s splurging a little bit or talking it out, show yourself the love and compassion you deserve, just like you would to anyone else. Just be sure that it’s you deciding what’s best.