When Self-Love is Disguised as Self-Shaming


On Valentine’s Day this year I noticed a shift in the messages in the media. Instead of messages pressuring us to buy the perfect gift, organize the perfect date and buy our significant other flowers and chocolate, the blogs and media outlets I follow were full of messages about self-love. But the brand of self-love these blogs were touting is not the same self-love concept that I subscribe to. From the idea that “you’ll never find someone to love you unless you love yourself” to the notion that “no one needs to complete you, you can complete yourself” to the concept that self-love should be our top priority, whether we are single or partnered, these opinions about the importance of self-love were everywhere in my blogroll. Now I generally get a lot out of the blogs I follow and I find their content usually nurtures my soul, but I have to admit that when it comes to this trend of talking about self-love, I am over it! Generally each article asserted that self-love should be your top concern, followed by lists of ideas about how to love yourself.  Treat yourself to a massage or a bubble bath, exercise, try a new diet regimen, make daily rituals, drink this much coffee, don’t drink coffee, wine is good for your health, wine is unhealthy—how can any person follow this “advice” without ending up feeling shameful and confused? For me, this is not how we come to love ourselves.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I do not condone this notion that you MUST love yourself before you can get anywhere or score a good partner or enjoy your life. I am over the pages long checklist of affirmations, activities, things you should do and things you must not do.  I say no thanks to all of the fear based thinking that if you don’t love yourself you are going to manifest some awful thing in your life (or at least not manifest anything good).  And, finally, I am just over all of the pressure.  Over it!

Now does this mean that I think you should be hating yourself into a better life?  No.  Succumbing to bullies?  Definitely not.  Hanging out in misery?  Nope, not that either.

What I do believe in is the concept of enjoying yourself and your life, at the level you can, right now.  Forget all of the guilt and pressure and endless list of what you “should” be doing. Does that create self-love or does it actually contribute to ever more self- shame? My wish for you is to find a way to enjoy your own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, as you are, in your current life, with all of its highs and lows.

Take a moment to close your eyes and take a breath.  Then think about one thing that is going well in your life.  It doesn’t have to be something spectacular, and it doesn’t mean you will stop paying attention to all the stuff that requires work and improvement. Just notice one little thing (or a big thing if you’ve got it), and take a breath and appreciate the one thing that is okay. It could even be the simple fact that you’re breathing. Then feel free to move on with your day.  It doesn’t have to be hard, or take more than a couple of seconds.  Just pause and notice what is okay and then get back to your life.  Ignore all this nonsense about how the journey to loving yourself is so complicated.  The next time you’re feeling stressed, take another moment and breath and notice something else that is okay, positive, good or enjoyable.  Breathe it in and then move on.