There are many myths and misconceptions about self-love—that it’s selfish and self-absorbed, that it’s superficial and silly, that it’s about small waists and even smaller thighs. Today, I’m sharing what self-love really is and what it looks like…

Self-love is being yourself—in the privacy of your own home and in public. “When you allow yourself to just be you, that is when self-love shines through,” writes Shannon Kaiser in her thoughtful, honest, powerful book The Self-Love Experiment: 15 Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate and Accepting of Yourself. As she also says, it is asking yourself: “In what area of my life can I reveal more of who I really am?”

Self-love is not forcing yourself to change or “fix” yourself.

Self-love has nothing to do with how you look. It has nothing to do with how much you weigh or what size you wear. It is not contingent upon these numbers. You don’t need to be shackled to these things.

Self-love is how you choose to live, writes Kaiser in the book.

Self-love is asking, How do I want to feel? she writes.

Self-love is being honest with yourself. It is saying, I am hurting. I need help. I am scared. I am anxious. And it’s OK. It is absolutely OK. I can feel this. I can work on this. 

Self-love is dedicating yourself to exploring and pursuing your inner desires. It is following thoughts like, “Wouldn’t it be nice…?” Kaiser writes. “Wouldn’t it be nice to love myself no matter what my body size? Wouldn’t it be nice to become my own best friend and feel happy to be me? Wouldn’t it be nice to be comfortable being alone and not need a relationship to fill me up or justify me?”

Self-love is asking yourself, What am I holding on to? What am I afraid to release but know in letting go I will have what I want? According to Kaiser, this might be a person, a situation or a thought pattern. For her it was all of the above. For instance, she writes, “I was willing to let go of the belief that I am unlovable and not good enough, and self-love rushed in.”

Self-love is showing up for yourself. It is caring for yourself. It is asking what nourishes you. It is asking what you want to create. It is asking what comforts and supports you. And it is choosing these things.

Self-love is putting down the sword and all the weaponry. It is ending the battle with yourself. Instead of getting red-faced angry with yourself for overeating, for crying in public, for being jealous, for saying the wrong thing, it is getting curious about why you did what you did. It is exploring. It is forgiving yourself. It is taking responsibility and moving on and moving through.

Self-love is asking yourself, What can I learn from this bad decision?

Self-love is asking yourself, What if I started seeing my body as a gift, regardless of its size and shape and weight? What if I stopped chasing thinness like it was a panacea for all my problems and worries and concerns? What if I started seeing failure as evidence that I tried, that I put myself out there, that I’m focused on growth? 

Self-love is exploring what is hurting you and starting to heal it. One compassionate, patient step at a time.

Self-love is asking yourself, What can’t I control and accept instead? What can I control? 

Self-love is meeting yourself where you are. Maybe that starts with asking yourself, right now, right this second, Wouldn’t it be nice if…? and How do I want to feel? and following the answer—like it was an experiment. Simply giving it a try. No pressure. No grand gestures. No big deal. Just an experiment.

Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash.