Self-Love: from a mental health perspective

Many of us equate self-love with selfishness and an inflated ego. Yet, behind an inflated sense of self is usually someone who is extremely insecure. On the other hand, self-love is all about allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and being as open about our strengths as we are about our weaknesses. True confidence is even about admitting that we’re not always strong or secure but knowing that imperfection does not make us any less worthy of love and belonging. Whether we view this process as an important step in our development or spiritual journey, loving ourselves is truly a mental health issue and that’s why it’s so significant. Our perceptions about ourselves impact our physical and psychological well-being, and our mental health also influences our relationships and how we treat others.

To truly live means to evolve, and this means we are striving to love and accept ourselves, regardless of our circumstances, insecurities, and past mistakes. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we wake up every morning, naturally loving and accepting ourselves, but it does mean that we make the decision each day to work toward it. One of the best ways to do this is to take actions that promote self-confidence. Sometimes this may include activities we enjoy, such as a fun hobby or going to a favorite place. However, self-love also involves going outside our comfort zone and taking healthy risks, like going on a date or speaking out in class.

It’s important that we focus our attention on the things we earn from working hard and taking healthy risks, rather than simply the things we were given. When we simply rely on what you have been given to bring us self-worth, we tend to create more insecurities. For example, if we  solely rely on our intelligence, which comes naturally to us, as a source of true confidence, we tend to feel that a piece of our worth is chipped away when we “fail” to get the grade we want or meet someone more intelligent than ourselves. If we only rely on our attractiveness for confidence, what happens when we grow old and our good looks fade? Everything we have been given could one day be taken away. Yet, this does not mean that we do not bring forth what we have been given. Although our gifts/attributes do not define us, how we use them to grow is essential. For example, going outside our comfort zone could involve utilizing a gift that we are afraid to share with others. Since self-improvement is a lifelong process, when we focus on the experience and the confidence we gain from healthy risks, this is something that cannot be taken away from us. We can always try again, and with another day, comes another opportunity for us to take actions that promote self-love.

Next time we are tempted to dismiss self-love as an excuse for selfishness, let us think about the mental health implications. Most people find joy in having a purpose and working toward being the best version of themselves. Self-love is simply a desire to continually improve. When we lack self-understanding and a drive to evolve, life may seem void of meaning and relationships may feel unfulfilling. This lack of direction can lay the groundwork for fear and insecurity to take root. Fortunately, action is one of the most effective ways to combat fear.

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