Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for February, 2022 is Redefining Love. We invite submissions on the many layers of love, throughout the month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
How does one love themself?
I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling with this. I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember. I read about self-love, self-compassion, and about others who love themselves. Yet, I have not found a way to love myself. Don’t get me wrong – I love different, individual things about myself. I just don’t love myself.
Some ways by which therapy has helped me off late is to recognise what my low self- esteem means for me. It has manifested in the following ways for me: negative self-talk, low moods, feeling lost, lonely, anxious about not having achieved anything, numbing behaviours, and so on. It might be useful for me to see things from a more day to day perspective. Just live a day at a time, and not worry so much about the future.
Tell me, how does one see things one at a time in today’s capitalist world? In a world where we’re constantly expected to have goals, meet those goals, face competition at each step, try to be better than others our age?
The worst things is that there is often no space for failure. You either succeed, or you’re worthless. Schools, competitive exams, colleges, jobs, PhDs – they all run on systems of not failing, on assessing individual worth based on markers of competitive productivity – marks, grades, KRAs, promotions, how many papers one has published. We extend the same to our mental health. We don’t give ourselves space to fail, and when we do fail, we cannot face it, and everything crumbles.
Another rather depressing aspect is comparing ourselves to others. It isn’t jealousy, don’t get me wrong. It is just this black hole of self-pity that makes you feel worthless, that you can’t go forward. But you know the irritating thing about anxiety and depressive tendencies? I’ve been functioning on autopilot. Just barely living for the next moment. So, so low on energy.
And all this while I keep asking myself: How does one love themself? As though answering that will fix the whole problem for me. The truth is, it won’t. The second truth is, there is no one answer to “How to love yourself”. Everyone loves themselves in different ways. It could be physical activity, a hobby, journaling, meeting friends, or just sitting and taking a deep breath.
The third truth is, self-love need not be a permanent way of being. It is okay to love yourself at a certain point in time, and not love yourself at another point in time.
We’ve all been there right? Sometimes we feel amazing about ourselves. Other times, we feel the very opposite. Our pessimistic selves keep chiding us and making us feel terrible. Sometimes I wonder if we all have subconscious bullies inside us. Maybe that’s why it’s such a struggle to conquer them.
The ultimate truth however, is that we aren’t in this alone. We might be living in our silos right now, exacerbated by a certain terrible virus, but many of us are dealing with similar battles of loving ourselves, and navigating low self-esteem.
So I would urge all readers to think of all the things that make you love yourself. It might be difficult at first. Once you recognise those things, maybe you will feel better. If not, seek help from professionals who can help you find your way back to yourself. Even if none of this happens at a certain pace, it is absolutely okay.
We are human, and we feel hurt. We may crumble and have bad times. But in small moments through all this, we can learn to love ourselves. That can be enough, for now.
Also read: Self Love Even When It Seems Impossible
Rishika Basu Majumdar has pursued her B.A. & PG Diploma in Psychology & is currently working. She also has a thrift shop of her own. As one can tell, her interests have a wide range – from wanting to learn more about the world to assisting with social & psychological issues. Some things she thinks about in the latter are mental health, the LGTBQ+ community, sexual health and wellness, minority rights, women’s rights, and so on. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.