No matter the application, self-help books and gurus, wellness blogs, and common wisdom everywhere these days seem to be constantly repeating two main concepts over and over again—and at first glance, they seem completely contradictory.
Love yourself just the way you are.
Take steps to change and improve to live your best life.
I hear your wheels turning. “Wait. What?”
It sounds contradictory, I know, but these two concepts really do go hand in hand. Getting there is all about balance.
On one hand, you have to love who you are this moment. On the other hand, you have to admit that where you are at this moment is not where you want to stay forever.
Tricky, right? Yet, not so much. By admitting you could be better, you accept yourself and honestly acknowledge your situation. You begin your journey because you love yourself - not the other way around.
To make a little more sense of this, picture someone you love. They could be a significant other, a child, a friend, a parent, anyone. Think about all the reasons you love them, why they are special to you. What are their talents? Strengths?
If you truly love this person, chances are you want the best for them. You want them to be happy and healthy living a life full of abundance. Picture their best life. Now, turn your focus back on you. Don't you want those same things for yourself?
For some, the thought of living an abundant life might seem unobtainable - even selfish, or irresponsible. If that's you, take some time to ask yourself why. Chances are you were able to picture this extraordinary life steeped in fulfilled potential for your loved one. If you’re unable to see yourself living this type of life, try focusing back on the person you love. In the world you’ve created for them, where are you? If you truly love this person, why shouldn’t you be living your best life alongside of them?
How could your children be living an abundant life when you’re not in the picture? If you thought of your spouse, how could they be thriving without you? It’s illogical. No matter how reluctant you are first to seeing and then becoming your best self - if you truly love someone else, you’ll do it for them.
Marketing companies sniff out your insecurities to use against you - whether that be through your weight, your age, or your status, companies want you to feel insecure so you'll buy their product.
However, recently, "we, the people" have fought back against unrealistic beauty standards in order to promote self-love. We’ve witnessed, for instance, an outpouring of love and acceptance through social media campaigns and good-guy companies taking a stand to stop photoshopping their models or stereotyping.
Loving yourself means protecting your vulnerabilities and not letting outside influences - particularly those with ulterior motives - dictate your self-image.
Although you should be proud of your body and your health wherever you are along the spectrum, I’ve noticed a worrisome trend with our “self-love” movement. It seems as if loving ourselves is now the panacea that overrides living a healthy life.
There are people who mistakenly believe the ability to do a yoga pose equates to a holistic wellbeing. Those who think their petite waist means their body isn’t affected by junk food. People who think their obesity is okay because their blood pressure is within normal limits.
Here’s the catch: Loving yourself doesn’t mean you excuse the parts that aren’t healthy.
It may be uncomfortable to admit that your smoking habit isn’t under control, or that you actually do want to wear a size 6 swimsuit.
Blatantly ignoring that nagging voice in your head that says, “You are not where you want to be” is being irresponsible and untrue to yourself.
From a very early age, we’re often taught how to change our bodies and appearance before we’re taught how to love them. Little girls are shown pretty dresses that they "need" in order to be a princess. Teenagers are given makeup palettes so they can wake up flawless. New moms are shoved down aisles for stretch mark remedies. Grandmothers are handed gift baskets with anti-aging creams. It seems that whatever stage we’re at in life, someone is telling us we are not good enough.
Newsflash: You are more than good enough, and you always have been.
Whether you agree at this moment or not, you are enough. You deserve to be loved and you deserve to love.
But what does it actually mean to love yourself? Love is a word so aimlessly tossed around these days, I think many of us have forgotten. So let’s take a moment to dissect what it truly means to love yourself.
To love yourself means to respect yourself and your accomplishments. Give yourself time. Be patient. Take time out of your day to sit and breathe. Don’t beat yourself up over the little things. Understand that you are human and you make mistakes, but begin by accepting every inch of yourself. Respect the power and potential you hold, and use it.
Does a salad satisfy you? Does a cup of coffee put you to sleep? Do horror movies keep you up at night? To love yourself means requires learning who you really are. Understand the intricacies of you.
Take the time to learn how you learn, how you organize your day, what your passions are. Many people set out to better themselves only to realize they don’t know who they are. What are you good at? What are you great at? What are your pitfalls? What foods do you crave?
Ask yourself questions about who you are and who you want to be. Chances are, many of the “problems” in your life aren’t problems at all - you’ve just been using the wrong solution.
This goes hand in hand with learning about yourself. Challenging yourself is the only way to find out what you’re capable of accomplishing. How do you know your range if you’ve never stretched yourself?
Take goal-oriented risks. Want to own a dance studio? Start with teaching a Zumba class. Want to be the CFO? Ask the current one to lunch.
Do the thing you’re scared to do and watch how your life transforms. As Will Smith says, "The best things in life are on the opposite side of your maximum fear."
Picture the best version of you. Be vivid with it. Experience it. What does it feel like to wake up in the morning? Who are the people you surround yourself with in life? What is your purpose?
To love yourself means to believe you are that person - this very moment. It doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges, it means you are determined to overcome them. Believe you are, and you will be.
Love yourself and you will progress.
Notice I didn’t say succeed because this isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about loving.
If you take the time to give yourself the love you deserve, you won’t be able to be stuck in the same rut. By loving yourself, you become the best version of you, and that’s what truly matters.
What you do each day - your habits - determines your life. Are yours getting you where you want to go? Get our free Daily Habit PDF to know for sure.
Don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. Use this Power Wheel tool to know exactly where you need to start your journey to your unique center of health.