Appreciating oneself for little things, whispering sweet nothings to yourself, a little pat and hug to yourself for achieving something, or when you did some good deed is defined as self-love. Philosophically speaking, many of our saints have said this: self-love is a way to attain the highest levels of spirituality. If you love yourself, it means you have reached the spiritual realms too. So, it is lovely to have this warm fuzzy feeling of loving oneself.
But I often ponder and wonder if this word had not been coined, would we know what it is to love oneself unconditionally? The answers are mixed. We do know that we should appreciate ourselves and love ourselves too – but we don’t!
Some think it is mandatory to prioritize our family first above us, while a few of us think unless we appreciate ourselves, we cannot love others. Mostly it is the former group that is the majority everywhere and ends up behind in priority rankings in receiving love. Don’t you think so? Ah, but this is utopian, most of you would say! I agree too ‘coz I have done it myself too! I still believe we can make it real too – we can be the majority in prioritizing ourselves. There is nothing wrong in it. My favourite quote has always been: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first!
So, what makes us do this – neglect ourselves? In most cultures, races, and ethnicities in the world, people are conditioned to ignore themselves and lead their lives for the sake of others, put others’ happiness above theirs, and love others more than themselves. Even the slogan and war cry of every defence force in the world says we are supposed to put our society before us. But that is for the homeland, not applicable to normal citizens. Let’s change this punchline and save ourselves first. If you happen to fly in any airline, even the safety instructions say we are to save ourselves first and then our fellow passengers. Then why don’t we apply this in real life too? Give love to ourselves first – we can love our loved ones better.
Fight/Flight – You choose!
Societal conditioning is so strong that people who put themselves first or show they love themselves are scorned at, looked down upon, and labeled as “show-offs” or “selfish”. I have been called selfish many times whenever I expressed opinions with some friends in the past saying it is good to think about oneself first.
Society does this. People live in fear each time they decide to be happy in their life. It has become a matter of life and death as to “what will society say” if I did this or took a particular step. Right from deciding every milestone in our life to choosing a life partner, society misuses this power of “they have the right to choose our happiness”. They bully you into thinking that the moment you decide to choose oneself or take decisions to be happy, you will be unhappier. It is a fight or flight situation for many.
A majority end up in the “flight” category as many choose to keep society happy by remaining unhappy. I never really advocate the “fight” as in physical fight options (as in the celluloid) but stand for yourself by taking decisions for yourself, ignoring societal norms. Standing up for yourself, I reckon needs guts but once you take the first step, it is equivalent to a million steps taken already, and “society” is already in line. There will be a few days of cribbing, ostracism, increased bullying tactics, etc but in the end, you will discover happiness and peace once you wear horse blinders.
My love for celluloid and Bollywood reminds me of another classic example of a Big B movie Kaaliya’s dialogue (has a symbolic connection to self-love for me) – Hum Jahan khade hote hain, line wahan se shuru hoti hai. It literally means I set the trends. If I love it, I do it and if people love what I do, then why not. I inspire people to do it! So, be the trendsetter and start loving yourself more!
Keys to Self-Love
It took me 35 years to break the body-shaming code and accept my body for what it is – wear clothes that I love. When I finally broke that code, it was my first step towards self-love – pure unconditional love. For many of you, I am sure self-love is a “work-in-progress” or a “yet-to-begin” task. But the first step is crucial.
Here are 10 things to do:
- Begin the day alone – your favourite cup of tea/coffee/any beverage you like. Sit with your pet/your garden. Enjoy the silence.
- Choose a time after work to switch off from anything remotely digital – phone, laptop, tablet, or whatever you can think of. Spend that time with your family or perhaps a friend.
- Choose a day in the week to be outdoors with yourself – go out, pamper yourself, eat what you want, indulge in retail therapy, watch a movie – basically date yourself!
- Mark dates on the calendar to look after yourself physically and mentally too – circle dates for health check-ups or meeting your therapist (if any).
- Go backpacking (smaller locations according to your budget) or any small adventure for a few days to begin with. Travel is the best way to pamper yourself and a great stress buster too.
- Compliment yourself for tasks you have achieved – mini-tasks (at work/home) can be made into milestones! Cooking and cleaning aren’t menial jobs so please take time to pat yourself on the back for the same.
- Dress up. Make sure you wear a new outfit from your wardrobe daily (even if you are working from home), admire yourself, and sit like you are at your workplace. Just looking good too gives a good high.
- Go for a whole-body massage once in a while. Schedule an appointment with a good masseur. A massage activates all the muscles, tendons, and nerves in the body and also gets the hormones flowing in the blood too!
- Create a bucket list (if you haven’t already) and start doing them one by one. It could be anything you always wanted to do but you couldn’t. Once you begin doing it, ticking off each and everyone will give you a natural high of achievement!
- The last is the best. Learn to say NO when you don’t want to do something that doesn’t feel right for you. It is equivalent to respecting your feelings and loving yourself for all decisions taken.
And finally, always remember “You were born to be real, not perfect”. You get to decide whether you are good, bad, or ugly! Be what you are and love yourself!
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7 thoughts on “Self Love”
What an amazing positive write up Priya. If one could manage to do atleast a couple of the self love activities, the world would turn a heaven to live in.
It’s all about truly valuing ourselves.
Thank You Bind.
Will let Priya know about your comment here. She will get back to you.
Thanks a ton!! It means a lot 🙂
Great article to begin your day with or to begin a new you! Very informative and useful. I have also been a great victim of”log kya kahenge” but once you break this line, believe me things would get sorted out on its own. Am not saying that you should do some unethically task in order to prove that you are loving yourself. But simply prioritise yourself.its true that an empty vessel cant pour anything. These 👆given 10 rules are really worth and working on this may lead to a more organized and efficient YOU! Believe me after a plethora of giving qurbanis and all ,I myself has discovered all these rules and have been practising some 6-7 out of these for the past 3-4 years. I spent some quality time with me ( though not daily ,but atleast 1 in a week) i usually spent time with likeminded ppl.whenever i get a chance (like with Laja women and my friends) And i religiously go out with my little one ,once in a week, and i regular see my doctors,which previously i always ignoring . Never miss the chance for out station visits.And above all am doing what i really wanted to do always (since my childhood) writing small stories (yeh baat alagh hai ki woh lambi ho jaati hain ki itna mere andar bhara hua hai woh nikalta hai inke zariye)and shayri,kavitas and sometimes articles . Above all now am also on the way to start loving myself because i know there is noone to love me than myself.
Thank You Saleema.
Much appreciate this. Will let Priya know about your comment here. She will get back to you.
Hey Saleema, thanks a ton for your valuable response 🙂 So happy to see that you are loving what you are doing! Keep going, buddy!
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