Radical Self-Love & Living The Dream
Our culture pays a lot of lip service to the idea of body positivity, self-care, and healthy self-esteem, but the ideas the culture promotes in actuality still involve a standard of perfection that few of us can attain. But it’s not just our society. How many of us say that we’re body positive but then call ourselves too fat or too skinny, too pale or too dark? We say that we love ourselves, and yet our inner voice still offers endless criticism of how we look and who we are. Where’s the self-love in that?
We wouldn’t, I hope, stay friends with people who always put us down. Yet, we allow this behavior from ourselves. And it goes far beyond our looks.
We do the same about every aspect of our lives. It even seems normal. Is it any wonder that so few of us actively chase the lives of our dreams? We’ve spent our whole lives feeding ourselves this idea that we’re somehow inadequate, and this idea nurtures our fear. When it comes to changing our lives or staying stuck, many of us will choose to stay stuck, choosing the devil we know rather than taking a risk. Because we’ve begun to believe the lies we’ve told ourselves.
The Necessary Love We Need
I believe that radical self-love is the necessary ingredient to living the lives we desire. I don’t mean that we should be narcissists or engage in egotistical behavior. I mean that we should commit to loving ourselves in both words and actions. We can do this by not allowing that voice of constant criticism tell us that we’re not enough. But it goes beyond just canceling out the negative self-talk. It’s also necessary to pay ourselves compliments and build our own self-esteem.
I’ve known many people who suffer from low self-esteem who are waiting for someone else to tell them that they are worthy. They dig for compliments, looking for the validation that they are, in fact, acceptable and even worthy of admiration. They’re looking outside themselves for the thing that can only be found within. Yes, compliments can be deeply flattering. But the only meaningful self-esteem comes from a deep love and appreciation for ourselves. Once we have that, we radiate that sense of confidence outward, which can cause a natural response of appreciation in others.
Treat Yourself Right
In addition to telling ourselves good things, we need to show our bodies that we appreciate them in the way that we take care of them. We can eat healthily, drink plenty of water, exercise, and live healthy lives. I’m not talking about fad diets and cleanses and maintaining a certain body type. I’m talking about being healthy. If weight is causing health issues, we can show enough respect for our bodies to do what it takes to create change- whether that’s gaining weight, losing it, or simply avoiding foods or behaviors that harm it. I love to have a nice cocktail or glass of wine, but I don’t regularly abuse my body with high quantities of alcohol. It’s not about deprivation: it’s about balance.
But it’s not just eating healthy and exercising that’s necessary, although it certainly helps. We can take care of our skin with sunscreen and moisturizers. We can make sure that we’re taking care of our hair and keeping it healthy. We can give ourselves enough rest by allowing enough hours for sleep. We can even treat ourselves to massages, facials, and nail care. If this sounds like a first-world indulgence, perhaps it is. But we seem to focus so much on everything but having a healthy relationship with ourselves. Then, when big changes are needed, we often buckle under the strain.
Stop Believing Society — Change Your Story
Because we have to go beyond telling ourselves nice things and taking care of our bodies. We need a holistic approach to radical self-love. We need to explore who we are as individuals, examining closely our strengths as well as our challenges. We need to accept our own faults and imperfections as much as we do those qualities we’re proud to possess. We need to see ourselves clearly, taking in the feedback we’re getting from others about who we are so that we can make sure that the image we project is accurate to who we believe ourselves to be. We can nurture our minds and feed our souls by learning every day and taking pleasure in the beauty of the world.
When we get to a point where we truly love ourselves, we’ll naturally be less likely to tolerate less from others. We’ll be more likely to seek out the people and situations that enhance rather than detract from our lives. We’ll be more likely to make the difficult changes that will improve our lives because we’ll finally understand our own resilience, courage, and capabilities. We’ll be able to see that we are worthy of good lives, even if the initial changes we make we’ll cause us some difficulty.
We have a society that praises the idea of self-love but does everything to promote self-criticism. When we choose to go beyond saying we love ourselves and practicing it in our lives, we’ll begin to find that the lives we desire are the lives we’re leading now. And if they’re not? If we love ourselves, but we don’t love the lives we’re in? We’ll start to make the changes that will help us live our dreams.
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