Guest post: Article specially written for frommollywithlove.com by Aloisa Go
The term ‘self-love’ has become commodified and co-opted by big brands over the last few years, as countless products and services are promoted as personal rewards or spaces where one can practice self-love.
But the danger in this industry is that it gives off the impression that self-love is a luxury, and those who can’t afford it don’t deserve to love themselves.
But the truth is, self-love springs from within and doesn’t have to come with a price tag.
It all starts with cultivating that voice in your head to be more positive, as people with an optimistic outlook tend to be happier and healthier.
In fact, a study published by Health Psychology Open reveals that individuals who are more compassionate towards themselves are able to manage their stress levels much better. This affects not only their mental state, but their physical health as well. That’s because stress can weaken the immune system, cause fluctuations in blood pressure and blood sugar, and be a trigger for using vices as coping mechanisms. Having unhealthy habits is the complete opposite of showing yourself some love.
But what does it really mean to practice self-compassion? This question was answered by University of Texas professor Dr. Kristin Neff, who literally wrote the book on the subject. According to Dr. Neff, self-compassion consists of three core components — namely, self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Self-kindness is pretty self-explanatory: you must learn to treat yourself with patience and understanding, in the same way that you might extend this kindness to other people. This means biting your tongue when you might say something negative to yourself and being too harsh with self-criticism when you commit a mistake.
The second component, common humanity, is a take on the saying, “To err is human.” To be human is to be imperfect, but that shouldn’t take away from your sense of self-worth.
Lastly, be mindful and accepting of your struggles as much as your triumphs, as this will pave the way for self-love.
For women, it might be even more of a challenge to practice self-love, especially as society keeps telling us that we’re not worthy of love or happiness because of a whole host of different reasons.
For one thing, the impossible beauty standards we previously tackled here on From Molly With Love continue to breed insecurities and negative mindsets among women.
What’s more, the exponential growth of marketing tells us that this pattern of shaming women for profit is not about to stop anytime soon. In fact, the industry outlook for digital marketing on Maryville University estimates that it will reach $335 billion by 2020, making messages more pronounced than ever as they’re no longer limited to billboards and commercials — they’ll pop up on our phones and gadgets, following us wherever we go. Of course, not all of these messages are detrimental to our self-worth, but enough of them are.
As media continues to bombard us with messages of self-hatred and inadequacy, the need to look for approval from within becomes all the more urgent. Positivity and acceptance need to come internally, first and foremost, before it can reach other people.
This means that you need to squash that inner bully who’s slowly chipping away at your self-worth. Very Well Mind suggests looking at the humor in difficult situations as that can instantly change your outlook on things and allow you to think more clearly.
If you need to, you can also keep a log of things that you’re grateful about yourself and review it the next time that you’re feeling unhappy or inadequate. Aim for constant improvement rather than perfection. This helps you look at yourself not as a failure, but a work-in-progress with tons of room to grow and plenty of exciting new possibilities. That is the best way to love yourself.