For the longest of time, I did not love myself- three years actually. I was so emotional and exhausted for the majority of time where I had no energy or motivation. I did not know how to truly be happy by myself and I expected my happiness from other people.
When I think back, I ask myself: ‘what was it that made me so unhappy?’ Again, it was because I did not love myself which resulted to not knowing how to get happiness from myself. I didn’t love myself because I kept thinking about all the countless number of flaws I have, my motivation to do well at school declined, I treated myself with no respect and I didn’t take care of myself and well-being.
A sign that really showed I didn’t love myself, was that I knew about all of these things but I didn’t do anything about it. I only hoped that the next guy I dated would help me with all of that. And he did. And when he wasn’t there anymore, I was back to square one- this time even more so emotional and exhausted. This is not to say that I used him. I swear that I honestly didn’t. It was just that all of my happiness and love came from him.
It was only when I started wearing the hijab that I started to love myself and be happy by myself. From that day, I promised myself that I would not get into a relationship without loving myself first because I did not want to repeat the cycle I was putting myself through. So I took the next crucial step: seeking help.
I noticed that in general, we don’t really talk about loving ourselves- especially guys. Maybe it is because we are too afraid to show the world our insecurities or that you feel depressed at times. Feeling these things are absolutely normal, however, our society tells us that seeking help is not the norm or maybe you don’t want people to know the problems you might be facing.
So I suggest helping yourself first; find ways to overcome your insecurities or depression by reading self-help books and watching YouTube videos for self-development. Or you could help yourself by just changing your mindset; let go of all the negative things that you find yourself thinking and welcome all of the positive comments that lift you up. However, just like everyone else in this world, you still need support, so talk to at least one person you trust; be it a family member, friend, counsellor or psychologist.
Nonetheless, loving yourself is not about being vain or thinking that you are better than everyone else. It is about the way you treat and take care of yourself. I was talking to my friend Shahirah and we discussed what it means to love yourself. This is what she told me:
“Basically you don’t hate yourself. You don’t beat yourself up when bad things happen. You make good choices for yourself. You nurture positive relationships with others and you are committed to developing yourself. You take care of your mind, body and soul. You know you’re accountable for your own happiness and well-being. And self-love means not needing validation from others.”
For more words of wisdom check out her blog: http://www.shaelaiza.com
So drawing on what Shahirah has said, I will elaborate the steps to take on doing so.
“Basically you don’t hate yourself. You don’t beat yourself up when bad things happen.”
- Always think positively. Accept what has happened, learn from it and try to see if there was anything good from it. Personally, to make myself feel better I say: “Look on the bright side, at least….”
“You make good choices for yourself.”
- This relates to the way you treat yourself. Think twice before you do something. How will it affect you or others? Does it benefit you? However, I would like to stress that helping or acts of kindness towards other people will benefit you as well because you will feel good about yourself afterwards, but I would also like to stress that genuine acts of kindness are also about expecting nothing in return.
“You nurture positive relationships with others and you are committed to developing yourself.”
- Popularity seems to be a big deal for some people- especially the younger ones, so sometimes we are blinded to see who our real friends are. Just know that people who brings you down, gossips about you, doesn’t care or acknowledge you or pressures you to make bad decisions are not true friends. It’s more than likely that you don’t have a positive relationship with them.
- To have a positive life, you need positive relationships. People who lifts you up, who you can trust, who respects you and encourages you to do good things are the people you should only ever accept to be in your life.
- Developing yourself is about having motivation. Motivation to be a better person, to have goals and plans and finding ways to help others and the community. In general, motivation is to live the life you want.
“You take care of your mind, body and soul. You know you’re accountable for your own happiness and well-being.”
- Be positive towards yourself by respecting yourself. Challenge yourself by writing down twenty things that you love about yourself. Eat healthy, exercise (even 20 minutes of walking will do), turn negative comments into positive comments, renew your passion for a hobby you once had or try new things.
- Try to find something that sets a fire to your soul or try to find your purpose in life.
“And self-love means not needing validation from others.”
- You don’t need other people to be happy. You need yourself.
Overall, self-love is not an end goal- it is a way of a life. So once you learn to love yourself, you shouldn’t leave it at that; keep doing the things that make you happy. Also, do yourself a favour by loving yourself first, before you start to love someone else.