Self Love Ain't Easy: 3 Tips on Loving Yourself
Photo Credit: Think Poppy
A few months ago I attended the 5th Annual National Black Women's life Balance and Wellness Conference at Spelman College. On the last day, I stood in a circle with Toni Carey co-founder of Black Girls Run, Dr. Nadia Richardson founder of No More Martyrs, and scholar activist Dr. Lisa Covington. I felt honored to be standing among black women doing amazing work on a national level regarding black women’s health and wellness. While talking, laughing, and enjoying the company of these brilliant women I was suddenly struck by the significance of that moment.
Our circle reminded me of the importance of finding people who validate and affirm me in a world that often does the exact opposite. Trying to love and care for myself can sometimes be hard work. In a society that profits from self loathing, self love can be difficult to sustain daily. What makes it a bit less challenging, however, is the love and support I receive from others. Unfortunately, self love is often packaged as something individuals strive for in isolation. It just doesn’t work that way.
We are social beings wired to connect with others. Contrary to popular sentiment, self love does not occur in a vacuum. Author bell hooks says it best in her bookk “All About Love” when she writes, "Self love cannot flourish in isolation. It is no easy task to be self loving." So here are three tips to love yourself more by including others in your journey.
1. Go where you're appreciated. Sometimes others won't see your value. Crazy right?! Unfortunately, it happens. What you shouldn't do is try to convince others of your worth if they refuse to see it. Staying at a job that doesn’t value your work ethic and skill sets or trying to be part of a social circle that you’re not a good fit for is never a good idea. It’s draining and takes up too much mental and emotional energy. That energy could be spent creating amazing things with people who genuinely love your work and see your value.
2. Know that it's okay to want affirmation and validation from others. Just make sure that you're getting it from people who love and care for you and genuinely want to see you grow, develop, and be happy. Also make sure that you’re not depending on other people to validate or affirm you all of the time. There should be a healthy balance between developing love for yourself from your own internal resources and leaning on others for reminders that you are worthy of love.
3. Pour back love into others because they are an extension of you. A significant part of self love requires you to show love to others. Bob Marley knew a thing or two about self love when he sang “One Love, One Heart.” As much as your understanding of self love develops, it will never be complete if you don’t also practice loving others.