For most of my life, the idea of self-love has been absent to me. To truly look within and have compassion and care for myself has been an experience I have only read about. Looking back, it seems somewhat silly to me that I have at times given those who are undeserving my love – when it’s me who really needed it. I guess I felt it selfish to take time out to discover myself, perhaps even counterproductive… Surely, giving my all to others would bring around the same in return. Time and time again it has proven to not be the case.
To look in the mirror and love every imperfection and flaw is empowering. To accept that even on your worst days, you are who you are, and that you are enough, is heart-warming. To know without question that your incompleteness is what makes you whole, and not judge that, will free you for the rest of your life.
I have found self-love to be a pursuit complete with ups, downs, and days of complete hopelessness. It has taken hard work. I have overcome some of the most deeply negative, entrenched perceptions of myself. I have silenced the inner critic and put to bed more than a decade of emotional unkindness that had, without permission, set up home in my thoughts. I have discovered that self-love is not striving for perfection, nor achieving every goal, or even being overly successful. Self-love comes when you sit in silence and listen to the deepest, most honest part of you, the voice that is often drowned out by the madness of life, the voice which you finally and decisively ask: what do I need to make the remaining days of my life, the best days of my life?
Life truly is a celebration. I have recently met a couple of individuals who have literally faced death head-on; they have stood shoulder to shoulder with the end and survived. These unique souls, like many others I have met in the same circumstances, have an unmatched passion for filling their life with goodness. It is inspiring and brings me to the realisation that I have wasted over a third of my time on this earth, criticising myself, burning myself out, chasing love that was never meant to be mine and pushing away those who could have been my world. I have spent untold years analysing the past and everything I did wrong, then subsequently living with the pain of that regret.
Loving myself has become a process and I am embracing every second of it. I have learned to smile amongst the chaos and tip-toe gently during times of struggle. I now go easy on myself when I fail and celebrate when I win. I put no reliance on happiness from others; I look to myself for support, light, and love. I surround myself with people who share my values and spend every day working towards only one goal: happiness. Not complete happiness, it doesn’t exist, but contentment with where I am and what I have, in every moment.
Forget the things you cannot change. Drown in the things that make you smile. Find a passion and turn it into a career. Discover the joy hidden in the unlikeliest of places. Try something for the first time, or revisit something that brought you pleasure in the past. This list could go on. The opportunities to do something for you, selfishly for you, are endless. Please ask yourself that question: what do I need to make the remaining days of my life, the best days of my life?
My inner dialogue, once so dark, is now filled with light and excitement. Finally, I see that I am doing fine, I am where I need to be and I cannot wait to see where I go next.
It might be the hardest thing you ever do, but I assure you, when you fall in love with yourself you defeat the enemy within and the enemies outside seem to fade away.
Tim is the Founder and Creative Director at Fuel Media Limited, and the passionate lifestyle writer here at To Whom It May Concern. He resides on the beautiful North Shore in Auckland, New Zealand.