Self-love is something that I got acquainted with very late in my life. During my growing up years, I don’t remember any moment when I looked at myself in the mirror with love. Or cared for myself as I do for my loved ones. My heart writhes when I recall the moments I was harsh on myself.
Trigger Warning: The article talks about self-harm.
I had no mirrors in my room because I just hated looking at myself. I used to slap myself many times to punish for things that I thought were wrong. And when this self-hatred piled up enough to affect my mental health badly, it made me go to extents that I never imagined.
A strange thing about self-hatred is that it makes you cross the limits of self-sabotaging. Even if you are not too strong, self-hatred blows some kind of evil power in you that defeats all the positive forces. It devours you and leaves you in the dark where you see nothing but your body entangled in the web of your mistakes. Similarly, in my case, self-hatred made me fatally harm myself.
Our will to live comes from within. With each breath that we inhale from the environment, we contemplate how we are going to utilise the resources in our bucket. But when our inner self is clouded in guilt and hatred, how will we be able to see or utilise anything? So, according to me, the best way to counter self-haters and self-doubt is to love yourself. Once you do that, you will understand how lucky you are to have a life.
Self-love and mental health: here are six reasons to give it a chance
Helps you forgive your mistakes
One of the most important fuels of self-hatred is the piling guilt over past mistakes. We start defining ourselves based on those mistakes. But we need to understand that we are humans and hence we have the tendency and right to commit mistakes. We cannot always be right or perfect. Just imagine, if your child falls down while learning to walk, will you not help it to stand on its feet? Or will you let it cry and ponder over its fall? So similarly, if you love yourself, you will forgive your mistakes and encourage yourself to learn something from them.
Doesn’t make you feel lonely
One of the biggest reasons why people pine in loneliness is their lack of support for themselves. People who feel lonely are often the ones who find the love and support outside. Due to a lack of self-love, these people do not enjoy their own company and refrain from sitting alone. Being alone is a breeding ground of guilt if you hate yourself. And we all know how the pain of loneliness makes people take extreme steps in their life.
So don’t be afraid of being alone or not finding love and support outside. Be your own anchor.
Helps you explore your likes and dislikes
If you love yourself, you will obviously be fishing for things that give you pleasure. While, you will also strongly dish the people, places or things that you do not like. Hence loving yourself is the first step toward standing by your choices.
Build a better relationship with yourself and others
If a person doesn’t like themselves, they will never accept their body and thoughts. They will always feel ashamed of themselves. Consequently, they will start forcing changes on themselves just to fit into what others find good. For example, if a person doesn’t like their body, they will start following strict diets, gyming routines and whatnot just to become more likeable. By doing this they are not only harming their bodies, they are also undervaluing themselves.
So loving yourself and accepting the way you are plays a vital role in managing your health and your relationships. It avoids the complexities of pretence just to sustain a relationship as it makes you value yourself before everything else.
You will not be affected by criticism or trolls
If a person loves themselves, they will never be affected by trolling or criticism. They will rather filter out the criticism to find things that will help them improve their lives. They will always look for the good even in bad things. On the other hand, self-hatred is only leveraged by trolls and critics, who act as an endorsement of your belief that you are not enough.
Makes you strong enough to rebel
Most of the crimes that happen to women are not reported either because families fear social criticism or because the survivors internalise the blame. Sometimes, victim-blaming by family and leaders also imposes silence on women. While society’s patriarchal mindset is undoubtedly at fault, women too need to start valuing themselves. If they love themselves, they will not let any kind of injustice happen to them. They will rise and rebel, loudly or silently, to preserve themselves, their dignity and their reputation.
Although I am still on the way to finding my long-lost self-love, I am sure that there is no other emotion, medicine or therapy strong enough to battle depression or any mental health issues. Self-love makes you more resonant and aware of your body and life, proving to be the thread to bridge the gap between you and your mind.
Views expressed are the author’s own.