Stop hating yourself for what you aren’t, love yourself for what you are
Hating yourself won’t make you a better person
Here’s the thing: We all have aspects of ourselves that we know could use a little improvement. The problem is that far too often, we respond to these imperfections with disdain, self-loathing, and harsh criticism. Think about your life like a house you own; things will sometimes break or fall into disrepair. When something isn’t perfect about a house, you don’t say, “Well, time to go berate the fuck out of those loose shingles until they fix themselves!” You say, “Time to give this awkward palace some TLC.” Nothing improves when it’s fed with anger and hatred. That’s true of humans more than anything. Pouring loving energy over yourself as often as possible won’t result in you settling for being mediocre – it will give you the strength and encouragement to fix yourself up.
You will literally never be perfect
Only the worst kind of people are ever “done” evolving. If you ever look at yourself and go, “Yup, this is perfect. I’m all done growing. There is no possible way to improve on all of *this*”, you’re either delusional or you’re a lame ass quitter who has decided that self-growth has just become too much work. The mere fact that you can still identify parts of yourself that could be better means you are doing awesome. You aren’t afraid to face yourself honestly, you’re brave enough to believe you can be more than you are right now, and you’re motivated enough to try. You see yourself. You’re not lying to yourself. And you know that Future You is a glowing badass. Those are qualities you already have, and that sure as shit is worth loving.
You’ve been lied to about how good you already are
You know all those books and movies where people feel awkward and stupid and basically every shade of incorrect until someone swoops in and makes them feel lovable for the first time and suddenly they’re like a flower opening to the sun? They become a better friend! They get a great job! They can wear heels without tripping! They are an all-around better human being all because someone else entered their lives and told them they were worth a damn. Now imagine if we were told by books and movies that we had the power to do that for ourselves. We wouldn’t have to wait for shit to realize that we already have everything we need to be awesome at life. We would tell ourselves how special and lovely and breathtakingly unique we are. We would rescue ourselves. Let’s move past being pissed that Hollywood has been selling us a bullshit notion that we have to sit on the sidelines of our own lives until someone else comes along to validate us as worthwhile humans; let’s just start doing it for ourselves.
It keeps your standards as high as they should be
The more you love yourself, the easier it will be to recognize when someone isn’t loving you enough. If you treat yourself like shit, it will feel normal when someone else does it.
Someone has to love you, and no one will do it as well as you
Think about it: Most of us spend an obscene amount of time looking for someone to love us. I’m not saying this isn’t a thing we should do; being as surrounded as possible by people who understand, encourage, uplift, comfort, and generally celebrate your existence is the best thing. It’s the best. The problem is that we live in a culture that so stubbornly validates only getting that kind of love from other people. That’s bullshit. You are perfectly capable of loving yourself, and you should. Self-love is no less real just because it wasn’t ever played by Ryan Gosling in a movie.
Loving yourself teaches others how to love you correctly
Speaking of other people loving you – you need to show them how it’s done. Sure, part of that is developing good communication skills and building relationships where everyone involved is both comfortable enough to ask for what they need and generous enough to try and give the other person what they need, but when it comes down to it, you lead best by example. Everyone responds to different methods of affection and encouragement, and your family, friends, and kissy-face partners will all be infinitely better for you if you demonstrate how loving you is done properly. For example, if your new boyfriend sees you heinously beating yourself up when you, say, lose your job, he might get the impression that that kind of tough love is what motivates you. And maybe it’s not. Maybe what you really need is for someone to sit you down and tell you why you’re great and why you losing your job is actually a good thing and how you’re going to move on from this to conquer the world. Maybe what you need when you’re down is to be told how fucking fantastic you are. But if you’ve never learned to love yourself, and you’ve never practiced giving yourself the kind of love you need, it’s going to be that much harder for the people around you – who likely want to love you in the right way – to know what kind of love to offer.
You will never satisfy everyone
This was always true, but with social media making the details of our lives and sometimes our personal feelings exposed to more people – with their many opinions, preferences, and standards – it’s easier than ever for us to feel like we are constantly not meeting people’s expectations. And over a long enough period of time, this sense that we’re upsetting, offending, or simply letting people down can result in us feeling desperately broken. This, in short, is bullshit. The only opinions about your actions that you should genuinely take to heart are the ones from people who really, truly know you. The ones who see the big picture of who you are and understand your life enough to see the context of how you feel or what you do in any given moment. I’m not saying to ignore everyone who doesn’t know you, or whose perspective differs from yours; actually I think you should keep those people close, and talk to them, and hopefully both of your senses of understanding will expand as a result. But do not let them make you hate yourself. It’s good to question yourself. It’s good to check in and be like, “Am I actually being a total dick right now? Am I wrong here?” but do it within a loving bubble that you built around yourself. Trust that, for the most part, you know yourself so much better than anyone else.
Needing someone else’s love is dangerous
Everyone needs love. It’s a basic human necessity (if any of you tries to argue with me scientifically, I will not even start with you; love is fucking essential.) For the most part, we’re trained to think that love has to come from other people, and don’t get me wrong, love from other people feels amaaaazing. It’s tits. It’s so goddamn nice. But needing another person to fulfill a basic need like love is a hell of a lot riskier than simply wanting it. When you have a need, you have the fear associated with the idea of not getting that need met. So when your need of love is wrapped up in another person, then so is your fear. Relationships built on fear are utterly fucked from the start. Loving yourself won’t change how much you enjoy the love of other people, but it might take away a huge amount of anxiety from your relationships with others – and that is game-changing for everyone involved. Loving yourself means your other relationships get the freedom to be about joy instead of fear.