Self-love is a term you just can’t avoid in the 21st century, and of course, self-love meaning has been contorted to fit everything from a deep connection to self, to confidence, to spa retreats and luxury product purchases. So, is self-love cliché and simply a marketing ploy to get us to “treat ourselves” to more and more stuff or something we can truly strive for?
While the term “self-love” has certainly been exploited over the past couple of decades to sell more and more products at ever-increasing prices, it is a very real and noble pursuit. Understanding what the term self-love really means is essential to achieving it.
Let’s talk about what self-love is not. Self-love is not materialism or even self-care (especially when it comes to high-priced products). You may have seen or heard plenty of advertising calling you to “love yourself” or reminding you that “you deserve it” in an attempt to persuade you to purchase. The truth is that purchasing things as a means of proving self-love or trying to achieve self-love does just the opposite. A person who truly loves themselves doesn’t need material evidence, and they certainly don’t put themselves in financial jeopardy or misalign themselves with their goals.
According to self-love psychology, self-love is entirely an inside job. It is the process of learning to connect, accept, appreciate, and love who you are. This process takes time, commitment, and self-awareness. There is no instant way to create self-love, and while it can be challenging at times, it is certainly well worth the effort.
Why Does Self-Love Matter?
Often when people think about how self-love impacts their lives, they think of relationships, recalling the saying that “you can’t love others until you love yourself.” That statement does highlight the importance of self-love in relationships. But, in reality, the more accurate statement would be that you can’t fully receive love from others if you don’t first love yourself. Why? Well…because you feel unworthy. When struggling with self-love, people are more likely to accept unhealthy relationships or to overperform in those that are healthier. In other words, you’ll settle for less or exhaust yourself trying to earn the healthy love you’re being given. I’ve experienced this firsthand.
I’ve ignored countless red flags in relationships even staying in ones that are physically and emotionally abusive. Often I wondered why I was so consistently with “the wrong person,” people who ignored or dismissed my needs and treated me poorly. Early in my marriage I even struggled because my husband was so kind, considerate, and loving. I found myself feeling overwhelmed with the need to prove my value, be low maintenance, and hide what I perceived as “neediness.” If we hadn’t been such close friends for so many years, I’m certain the relationship would’ve been destroyed, and I’d start the cycle of damaging and unhealthy relationships again and again. And here’s the thing, these patterns weren’t only present in my partnerships but also in my friendships, my work life, and my extended family. Not loving myself prevented me from feeling like I deserved healthy love from others and led me to unconsciously seek relationships that affirmed my beliefs about my value.
When I began my own journey, I discovered that the benefits of self-love are far-reaching. Not only did all my relationships improve, but I also realized that my health, finances, parenting, and businesses thrived as well. This is because I was able to make healthy, well-thought-out decisions that were in alignment with myself and my goals, and I finally recognized that I deserved amazing things in my life. And you can too! That’s the importance of self-love.
Learning to love yourself can feel like an insurmountable task, but anyone can do it. For some (myself included), this may involve professional help from a therapist or life coach. But for all, it involves an ongoing commitment to approach yourself and your needs with grace and curiosity rather than judgment and unforgiveness. This means making peace with your past, practicing mindset techniques, journaling, and/or meditation. It also means making space in your life for you. While this may seem very difficult at first, remember that everyone benefits from you making yourself a priority. The love you’ve been seeking for so long is yours for the taking; it’s already within. So, no, self-love is NOT a cliché, self-love meaning is very real, and there’s no better time than NOW to start your self-love journey!