Just like loving someone else isn’t just about saying “I love you”
Imagine if your partner told you every day that they loved you, but also shot you down every chance they got, and indirectly but aggressively undermined your long-term happiness.
Imagine if every day, they reassured you that you were beautiful, that they loved your laugh. Imagine if they scribbled little love notes and left them around those — “you are loved,” “you are enough” — and told you all the time how much they love your kindness, your charisma, your determination, the freckles on your cheeks.
But then imagine if that same person encouraged you to live only a fraction of your own life. Let’s say they encouraged you to eschew responsibilities, supported your bad habits, stuck drinks in your hand, fed you junk food, persuaded you not to go to the gym, and pulled your credit card out of your pocket and handed it to you every time you were about to spend impulsively with money you didn’t have.
Would you believe this person truly cared about you?
Self-Love is action, not affirmation
From a partner, and from ourselves. It’s about long-term investment in that person’s real well-being, not immediate indulgence in pleasure that undermines it.
Saying you love someone and actually loving them are not the same thing.
Love isn’t about keeping anyone “small.” It’s not about telling them what they can’t do, or shooting down their dreams, or breaking promises. And it’s definitely not about these things even if there’s also “fun date nights” and “affirmations” and “cute surprises.”
And that’s true for self-love as well.
You can tell yourself all the affirmations you want, read endless blog posts about how worthy you are, and stick millions of post-it notes reminding yourself “you are enough” on every mirror in your home, but none of that is true self-love.
Real self-love is not about immediate pleasure. It’s about long-term happiness.
Heidi Priebe wrote,
“If you are regularly sabotaging your long-term happiness, you do not love yourself. No matter how often you tell yourself otherwise.”
Failing to look after your health is self-sabotage. Failing to set and keep goals is self-sabotage. And both of these are self-hatred, not self-love.
Self love is not spending, and instead saving for the future. It’s going to bed at a decent hour, and waking up at a decent hour, and eating healthy foods and curbing our drinking and working out.
“Self-love isn’t just about what you tell yourself to make yourself feel better — it’s about what you do to make yourself be better.”
It’s about the long-term plans. The promises we make to ourselves — and keep. The daily support as we take on these challenges. The hard work, the hustle, the blood, sweat, and tears — the continual cheerleading even when we feel like giving up.
“The more hard work you put into bettering your life, the less often you’ll feel the need to treat yourself. To affirm yourself. To remind yourself that you’re worthy — because you’re already proving those things to yourself through your actions, every single day.”
And this is the way any kind of love — for others, for self — really looks.