Let’s Talk Self-Love: Why is it so Difficult to Find and Keep?
Disclaimer: This isn’t a post about having found all the answers…but rather, a series of inquisitions and reflections on the topic of self-love, one of the most popular topics of today, feeding multi-billion dollar industries while we journey on our quest for it. This is an ongoing discussion I’d like to have. If you have any comments or thoughts to add, please feel free to comment below. I believe finding self-love isn’t arriving at some utopian destination, but rather a life-long journey with highs and lows. This is self-love through my lens, currently:
I’ve been thinking about the topic of self-love, and have a myriad of questions concerning our quests for this love. Why is it so difficult to find and keep this love for ourselves? Why is it so difficult to love ourselves infinitely, to our cores, consistently? Why do we so often find ourselves needing validation, reminders, even religions, affirmations or temporary thrills, to remind us of our own self-worth? Why is it we change so drastically from babyhood, innocent and truly living in the present (perhaps not by choice or awareness), into adulthood, with an aching awareness of our shortcomings? If we were born and created so miraculously, an explosion of atoms and reactions coming together to form matter and life itself, with consciousness and personalities, why would self-worth and self-love be left out of the equation? What if to love ourselves were an automatic function, like breathing?
As a prior Mormon, we were taught that to love (and recognize our divine worth) in ourselves and others is the work of our lives. We live and breathe to develop this love, both for ourselves and for others (no matter how flawed or skewed, in reality, that love often is or was). While I am no longer affiliated with the LDS church (but will undoubtedly always carry some of its DNA with me), a congruent questioning still comes to mind: if we were not born with enduring self-love, yet all carry a deep desire for it in our hearts, then does that make it our mission in life to obtain it? If to love and love ourselves is our mission…why? Are we a part of a bigger picture?
And, if self-love is not needed evolutionarily (otherwise we would have developed this trait by nature), why do most humans crave and need it? In other words, if all humans, since the time of man, have sought love, why has it not become a part of our genetic makeups, as smaller jaws, teeth, bodies, etc. have?
There’s no doubt today’s modern world, media and marketing are contributors as to why we have a hard time truly accepting and loving ourselves. We are constantly bombarded with imagery, slogans, degrading texts, articles, ads, reminding us to change, to “be better,” often in superficial or unattainable ways. (As a model, I know I have a part in this, and I’m still trying to chisel out a way to have my career coexist with the care I hold for the mental wellbeing of others). Social media, while having the potential to promote positivity, often leave us feeling empty. Our comparing and self-worth grow and decline with every scroll our thumbs make on our screens. But even then, is it the chicken or the egg? Have media and targeted ads made it more difficult for us to feel self-love? Or, are industries playing off of our insecurities? If we were born knowing our self-worth entirely, wouldn’t many of these businesses cease to exist?
Let’s play devil’s advocate and imagine today’s businesses and social media never existed. What was life like prior to today? Was it any different? Was self-love overflowing from within us? Maybe more easily, or differently…but all signs point to no. Vanity, fashion, religion, power, rituals, and belief in god (or goddesses), all have one thing in common: temporary or set-in-stone [depending on who you ask] answers and remedies to lull and soothe our deepest desires and quests for this self-love (or self-esteem) we all deeply seek to hold from within. All of these sources of answers and remedies have been in existence, essentially, since the time of man — from ancient Egyptian and Roman empires to Aristotle in 384 B.C. to the explosion of Vogue and magazines, to today’s social media empires and self-help books. Surely, if this quest has survived the existence of man thus far, there must have been a reason for it?
I do not have any ground-breaking, or, even, light-as-a-feather answers. The last months of 2018 brought me on my knees countless times. Crippled with anxiety, fear and a serious lack of self-love (in the form of depression, set off by grief, the emotional loss of a parent, all-around pressure to keep it all together), I kept wondering, why it is, and always has been, so difficult for us to love ourselves? Why is self-love for the incredible soul, life and being I inhabit and am, not as swift as the air I breathe in?
My daily quest to find a deep, consistent, unwavering sense of self and self-love continues, gladly (but not easily) so. Today, a book arrived on my doorstep — “Self-Compassion,” by Kristin Neff. Even though I’ve only read a few pages, the very act of trying to seek light feels empowering. It feels like a rebellion of sorts, against the confusing, mysterious nature of humanity, by taking deliberate and intentional steps forward, toward the light. Baby steps. And, as literal baby steps are celebrated by parents across the globe for signs of strength and growth, so should we celebrate the steps we take, varying in paces (big or small), as signs of strength and growth, creating foundations that will carry us through life.
Sending love to all of my fellow beings on this self-love and self-compassion journey. If you are having a rough day in the self-love department, if it can console you in any way, remember your quest has been shared by all of us since the time of man (and woman). You are not alone. We are all in this together.