Loving Yourself

Love yourself. People say this all of the time. "You gotta love yourself" or "make a point to love yourself."

To be honest, I have always struggled with this concept. These comments are usually made in some context where it comes across as almost defeatist. Like, "this is who I am and that's just too bad." It seems like it is said most by people who want to give into their weaknesses and vices, stop making progress, stop trying to embrace positive change.

Everyone who knows me knows I have high expectations for myself. Whatever I am or decide to be I want to be a good one, the best, or close to the best. I perpetually put myself outside of my comfort zone to break my own barriers. I hold myself accountable not only to my poor choices, but also to the times when I do not give my best effort. I don't make excuses about "I tried my best" when I know I really didn't. I take care of myself, with physical and mental and emotional care. I celebrate my successes. I take my required alone time. But I also believe caring for myself means challenging myself, expanding my mind and stressing my body in a way that helps it stay healthy and improve.

I have never to this point in my life said "I love myself" or that anyone else should love themselves. I am more inclined to say that as a society we need to get it together and try harder.

But then I think about how I love other people. It's not an excusing, always super soft way of loving. I can be known to give tough love when required. When someone laments a failed pursuit to me and we both know they didn't put in the effort, I will call them out on that. But when they do make the effort, succeed or fail, I am there to celebrate. I will be the first to encourage, and push if I must, for people I love to take better care of themselves. I will remind them of the disservice they do to the people who care about them to be negligent with their well being. And on the other hand, when my help is required to make those positive changes, I will bend over backwards to help them. I forgive and do not hold grudges, but cherish the highlights, happy moments and the accept the quirks and the flaws.

And if this is the same way that you can turn love around onto yourself and "love yourself" then I can sort of see it. I read a quote that sort of inspired me to write this that said, "Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." If you hate your body, your career, your social circle, your attitude, but you don't do anything to make progress on that, you are choosing it. And you need to own it.

If you truly love yourself, you should do for yourself what you would truly do for other people you love - cherish, care for, hold accountable, challenge, and celebrate!