I want to talk about love.
Specifically, I want to talk about self love. It’s a term that’s been bandied about by everyone lately, popping up in huge brand campaigns globally, sweeping across social media while becoming a buzz word. And no wonder; globally, 2019 was hailed as the 'year of authenticity,' where people started shrugging off all the requirements of perfection and became a whole lot more real. Gone were the picture perfect posts of Instagram influencers. In were the wild, rolling videos of TikTok teens. Less poised, more playful. Only for something that is such a buzzword, self love doesn’t seem very self explanatory.
What is it? How do we achieve it? And do we even need it? Or is this focus on self awareness and self acceptance just another bit of vanity, right up there with avocado toast and selfie obsession?
Dr. Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director of Lighthouse Arabia, stresses the importance of knowing yourself. “A sense of self is critical to all life decisions. If you don’t know who you are, and you don’t know what your values are, you will not have any internal reference point to make decisions. Your decisions will always be influenced by external circumstances,” she explains.
So basically, without some kind of self awareness, we’re pretty much bound to be endlessly bopping around, people pleasing. Social media can seriously screw with your idea of who you are, she continues. “Rather than asking what you like, you ask what people will like,” she says. That’s the image we end up creating. “This creates a hollow self, an individual who has a perfectly built up exterior image, but knows nothing about what they want or believe.”
I understand. One of my biggest transformations of the last year has centered around being a bit more of myself online — awkward and serious and quirky and all. And an unexpected result happened: I started figuring out a bit more of myself, my values, and what it means to love the various parts of me. I’m definitely still learning. Being a woman is darn complicated and this whole self love thing isn’t something we’re taught in schools. But as someone who’s in the thick of the journey, I can say this: it’s absolutely worth it.
How do you start to figure out yourself? Dr. Afridi recommends journalling, digital detoxes, and talking to a pro. I’d add to that list that when you’re online, consciously curate the media you’re consuming. Make sure things inspire you, educate you, or entertain you. If they make your self love drop down a bit and a bit more, cut them out — you don’t need that mojo. Also, surround yourself with good people. Sometimes they can help us see how we’re worth loving when we can’t see it for ourselves.
So there we are. There are some of my thoughts on self love. As Valentine’s Day rolls around and rolls past, allow yourself the luxury of thinking less about Hallmark cards, more about what makes you tick. It’s a whole lot cheaper — and way more rewarding.