Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Self-Love over Self-Sacrifice

BY ELLIE CONSTANTINOU

Insecurity seems to be in fashion. No matter how good we are at what we do, we’re never the ones to admit it. Girls especially, are taught not to boast about their talents or their appearance, and that they should downplay their achievements. Comments like “She’s so full of herself” or “She loves herself too much” are all too common, coming from both men and women. When did it become so wrong to acknowledge the parts of ourselves that we love?

As a teenager I was extremely conscious of what people thought of me, and what they saw when they looked at me. It was almost as if I was looking at myself through the eyes of others, trying hard to fit in with the image they wanted of me. Any decisions I had to make were based on what others were doing, or what would benefit the people around me, rather than what would make myself happy. I constantly found myself minimising my own personality to make room for others, even some of the people that I considered to be closest to me. I made a conscious effort to draw attention away from myself and ensure that I was never in the spotlight for too long. My success and achievements were always overshadowed by other people’s accomplishments, for no other reason than that I was allowing it to happen.

A few years ago, however, when life as I knew it was facing a number of significant changes, I gave myself a choice. I could either continue to live life in the shadow of what other people thought of me, or choose to love myself and express self-love through every decision I would go on to make. Unfortunately the idea most of us have when it comes to “loving yourself” is often associated with being conceited or narcissistic. In reality, loving yourself means accepting yourself, seeing yourself through your own eyes rather than measuring yourself up to the value that others place on you. It’s a skill to love yourself, don't get me wrong. It’s a journey and not an easy one at that, but it’s so worth it! Actively choosing to embrace the person I was becoming was one of the best decisions I ever made and it’s a piece of advice I’ll give to anyone that will listen.

When you put yourself first, rather than others, your life becomes one much easier to live. Embracing yourself for who you are allows you to make the right decisions based on what’s best for you and those that will reap the greatest rewards. All it takes is for you to establish boundaries that allow you to lead a comfortable, yet fulfilling life, not one that will please your parents, partner or friends. Not being able to accept yourself, whether it be your personality or appearance, will only lead to struggles with your identity and sense of self. When these two components are not secure, it shows. The people around you can see that you lack security in yourself and it makes it easy for them to exploit it. Accepting yourself for who you are will only attract the right people; people that can add to your life and give you the security to believe that you can add to theirs.

One of the first steps to achieving an all important level of self-love and acceptance is establishing your core values. Doing this allows you to set boundaries and live your life according to a standard that you have set for yourself, rather than living up to someone else’s standard or conforming to the values of the people around you. Decisions are made much more easily because you already know what’s important to you, your set boundaries and the identity that you want to create for yourself. Without an established identity that you accept and strive towards, you’ll only find yourself questioning your own decisions and being easily persuaded by others, losing what it means to truly be yourself in the process. When you are strong in your values and beliefs, people won’t expect you to accept anything below this standard, and trust me this matters!

Once you’ve accepted yourself and made the decision to express self-love in everything you do, that’s when life really begins. You find yourself no longer doing things that mean nothing to you, and instead trying to find what it is that fulfils you as a person. Personally, I found myself at a point where the biggest change I had to make included cutting certain people off and being more selective with who I gave my time to. The fact that I had chosen to put myself first made this decision so much easier because I no longer felt as though it was my duty to spend time with individuals that took away from my life rather than adding to it. I was able to be stricter with the energy I was allowing into my life, because I finally valued my own mentality over what others might think.


Contrary to what some might say, this isn't selfish! Self-love is never selfish. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you aren't taking care of yourself and loving yourself for who you are, there’ll be no love to give to anyone else. Robert Holden said “Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have”. There is nothing more important than focusing on what makes you a better person and filling your life with people or things that make you truly happy. You are your number one priority and that’s something that should never change.
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