Having a toolkit for your own well-being & happiness, taking care of your own needs is crucial in modern times. Jasmine Edge looks at some ideas…

By Jasmine Edge: Literature Columnist

The term ‘self-love’ is not alien, but still, so few people practice it.

When self-love is mentioned it’s usually accompanied with the idea of pampering and buying products, that if purchased, we think will make us appear more favourable to the world around us. This is a toxic kind of self-love. Real self-love is not an easy journey; for so many of us it involves facing our rawest selves, and working through uncomfortable feelings to reap the long-term rewards loving ourselves can bring. In the end it can feel liberating.

Looking/feeling good for yourself

In a society that demands we look ‘perfect’ all of the time; it’s hard to rewire your brain into dressing up for yourself regardless of what someone else thinks about you. As humans we are disposed to care about other people’s opinions of us, which in a world where it’s impossible to please everyone can lead to damaging effects on how we feel about and view our bodies. We are more inclined to spot the few negatives we see in ourselves, rather than the long list of positives.

Loving yourself regardless of others is the kind of self-love that takes time and patience. Getting to know every part of you, good and bad, then loving it regardless of what society dictates, is the boldest thing you can do. Plus, the key to finding happiness from within. A great book to read is, ‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’ by Florence Given. It is a game-changing book that will challenge what you thought you knew about yourself, and the world around you.

Photo: Feh Costa

Stop comparing yourself to others

Social media has made access to other people’s lives easier than ever. However, the images you see that seem to project others happiness, richness or a picture-perfect life is just that a picture. They capture a moment that, more often than not, has been planned and re-taken countless times to achieve what looks like effortless perfection. Whether it’s someone’s lifestyle, appearance or work you set yourself against, don’t. It’s not a fair comparison. Social media should be used as an escape, to inspire or educate. If it doesn’t, change it. A book that will inspire you to break free from the shackles of oppressive ideas is, ‘This Body Is Not an Apology’ by Sonya Renee Taylor.

Talk to yourself as you would a friend

The most constant person in your life is you. So, embracing yourself seems an essential step to achieving authentic happiness. Learning to speak to yourself with the same kindness as you would a loved one or your friend, is just as important on a journey to self-love.

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Cover Photo: Tasha Jolley

Photo Jernej Graj

‘The Self-Love Experiment’ by Shannon Kaiser is a nice place to begin when embarking on this journey. Being hard or tough on yourself can, of course, encourage you to grow, but it may also lead you to be your harshest critic, which is not always a good thing. It’s important to remember that human beings are not perfect, we all make mistakes. It’s how we learn from them that matters.

Give back to you

In a busy world, it’s easy to overlook your needs when everything around you demands for you to attend to it.

Despite what many people feel, we do not have to be over-extending ourselves to achieve our goals. After all, if you are exhausting yourself you will not be working at your highest potential.

Creating time and space for you can look different to everyone. Watching your favourite show, practicing mindfulness or reading are just a few ways to take a break from the fast-paced world around us. It provides us with a breather, a way of staying in the present and living for the now that we so easily forget to do. It can be hard at first and you may feel guilty, but just like anything else practice makes perfect. The more you practice giving back to yourself, the easier it will become. Chidera Eggerue’s ‘What a Time to be Alone’ speaks about the importance of spending time with yourself and the power it unleashes.

Do more of what makes you happy

Life isn’t about hardship or struggle, it’s about enjoyment and happiness. It’s only natural that life will be harder at some points than others, but life is also too short to spend time trying to please everyone. If it doesn’t make you happy, stop. Find what does. Don’t get trapped on the conveyer belt of life. Break free, and don’t forget to live, not just plod along. Elizabeth Gilbert author of ‘Big Magic’, and Glennon Doyle author of ‘Untamed’ both have written books that will help you live your life for you and unleash your full potential.

Self-love is complex, it isn’t as simple as changing one thing, it’s a journey that looks different to everybody. There are some amazing books that can help you along the way, but we should remember that loving ourselves is individual. We live in a world that criticises us at every move, you can never please everyone, so you may as well do what pleases you.

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