Have you ever been told sentiments like, “you can’t be there for others, if you aren’t there for yourself” and/or “you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself?” Not only have I heard such statements, but I believe there are truths to them, so much so that I have shared said advice to others in my life. Lovely in its foundation, what such statements do not prepare you for, is the life journey that you encounter afterinternalizing the advice and living out your best self.
Like you, I have worked so hard to love myself and have been very proud of the progress that I have made. Nonetheless, there were lessons about self-love that I wish were shared with me prior to my journey as I maneuvered through the different dynamics of my life to allow myself to be at a place where I can truly love me—the biggest gift I could give myself and the biggest gift you can give you.
My journey through self-love opened my eyes to see me for who I really am and to accept the me that I see. I am proudly emotional, compassionate, spiritual, sensitive, passionate, motivated, and optimistic. Additionally, I know that I can be distant, selfish, and stubborn. To others; I am approachable, intimidating, caring, and sometimes overwhelming. And I know that leading a life as a survivor is an element of my reality that I hold very close, unapologetically. Additionally, I know that in order for me to truly love myself, I had to acknowledge my past pains and accomplishments, reflect on my present milestones and setbacks, and aspire to always stay true to me in my future.
Continue reading for my words to you regarding the journey of self-love: what you will experience (if you haven’t already), what you will think, how people in your world may respond to you/how you will respond to people in your world, and how you will treat yourself.
The Journey Through & While In Self-Love
1. You will NEVER want to silence your voice again and you will do everything in your power to protect your needs. After understanding what hitting rock bottom and losing yourself feels like, you know in your heart of hearts; hitting rock bottom and feeling like you lost yourself is something you never want to experience again. Shortly after realizing just how much you love yourself, everything you do will be about you catering to your voice and needs the best way you know how. You will only agree to things you truly agree with. You will say yes and no and mean yes or no. You will feel enabled by your voice and motivated to keep staying true to it. People in your life will appreciate your ability to stay true to yourself in “all” situations. You will feel great about their perception of you, but you will also have moments where you are asking yourself, “was I really acting out of self-love today?” You know and understand that just because you love yourself, doesn’t mean you automatically stop doubting yourself and are free of insecurities. Loving yourself for who you are means you recognize that you have moments of doubt BUT you love yourself THROUGH those times because you are NOT willing to ever limit yourself and your progress again.
2. You will change the way you view yourself in relation to others. Who you were prior to you truly loving yourself was based on how others viewed you first, and how you viewed yourself second. When you love yourself, your needs and your views are first and it is OK to be selfish with you! Yes, people in all levels of your life will need from you, but you will be there for them based on how you are there for yourself first. If you truly can be there for them, you will be and those who love you will understand when you can’t be. You will not feel guilty about picking yourself first and for being honest about what you can or can’t do (most times). You will develop relationships with more depth with people in your life that truly matter to you and you will keep those who are insignificant in your life at a distance to protect your well-being. You will find it easy to be your authentic self and you will always want to live life that way. No one can prepare you for just how much change will take place in your life with regard to others, but knowing that you will want more from some and less from others is part of the journey towards self-love.
3. You will feel lonely at times. No one tells you that the journey towards self-love will also be lonely. Because you love yourself, you are always thinking. Often times you will need space from others to truly process and ask: Am I doing what I need? Am I being true to me? Am I compromising too much? Am I compromising too little? Why am I unhappy right now? What do I need? What don’t I need? And more. Because all the questions you are asking yourself are questions that you understand that only you have the answers to–you have to remove yourself from others in order to ask these questions and determine the answers. Remember, just because you love yourself, doesn’t mean you won’t be bothered by the loneliness, but because you love yourself, you know that the feeling of loneliness is temporary and necessary in order to keep you balanced. It takes constant work on yourself to keep loving yourself.
4. You will constantly encourage people to love themselves. I get it, it has taken you a lot of effort, blood, sweat, and tears to be in a position where you can truly say to yourself that you in fact do love yourself. You have gone through counseling, you have cut toxic people out of your life, you have shed so many tears, you have gained weight and lost weight, you have developed new good habits and tossed bad habits to the curb, you have pushed through some difficult conversations with loved ones, you have taken on new projects, developed new perspectives, you have taken your fair shot at love and all things “impossible” and so much more. So yeah, you better stand on that soap box proudly and proclaim your love of self! However, understand that while the journey towards self-love is a beautiful thing, if you are always “proclaiming” your love of self, you have to wonder just how much you truly do love yourself. For love of self is not solely verbal, in fact it is mostly action. What you do and how you do for yourself is self-love. You don’t need to share it to world obnoxiously, share it tastefully. Those who love themselves show it in their lifestyle. Some will gravitate towards you if they too are/were on the journey towards self-love as well and some will become more distant towards you as your journey is not their journey. Trust that those who are meant to be there will be exactly where they need to be.
5. You will appreciate the day you realized you loved yourself. Choosing yourself first has been a thought on your mind for quite some time and one day, you truly decided, “I want and need to love myself and live for me.” You didn’t wake up and say, today I will love myself forever, and ever, and ever and then you did! If only it were that easy, right? Honestly, it is a beautiful reality that the ability to REALLY love yourself doesn’t happen overnight. The road towards self-love is a journey and that journey is what makes the realization that you truly love yourself so powerful! Those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years that you have put in addressing the real ugly and painful work on yourself will have you wake up one day and feel the, “DANM, I LOVE MYSELF” moment you were hoping for. No one will have to tell you that you love yourself, one day you will know it in your gut that you do. And that feeling of true self-love is so deep to your core that you will do all it takes to protect you and your love of self. For a moment that will last a lifetime, your internal voice will be the voice you not only want to hear, but the voice that you need to hear and honor as you navigate the world.
6. You will accept and understand that your love of self is changing. Because who you are is forever changing, the way you love yourself is changing as well. That is OK and normal. The beauty in this journey of self-love is that you have learned about your triggers, you know what brings you happiness, what pains you, and more—not just on the surface level but deeper within your foundational core. So, while the surface of you may change and circumstances are changing all around you, what you value and how you operate will not waiver much because you are love at your core. You have not only acquired the tools to understand when you need to check in with yourself and make the best decisions for yourself, but you have put in the work in through execution, regardless of the changes that are taking place in your life. Some of which are in your control and some are not within your control. However, while you will still fall off track (you will), the fall will not bruise you in irreparable ways.
If you can’t love you, how can you truly expect others to love you? The journey towards self-love is one worth taking and continuously living in. It takes work to keep the love of self alive but the daily results are beyond worth it. Those who truly love you will encourage your continuous road of self-love and if you truly love those in your life, you will encourage their continuous journey as well! With one life to live, give yourself the gift of self-love and understand that self-love is priceless.
To continue to stay connected with me and my future blog posts and speaking engagements, please be sure to sign up for my mailing list at BernadineTruth.com.
Follow Bernadine: Motivational Speaker| Workshop Facilitator| Spoken Word Artist| Blogger
Facebook: Know Your Truths. Speak Your Truths