Self-love is not the answer

waiting heart

{photo source}

Something is wrong. It’s been niggling at me for a long time. Somewhere, underneath it all, my gut has been telling me that something’s not right. I’ve been skirting around the edges, dipping my toe in the water, but I couldn’t see what was going on. Just a faint dull ache in the pit of my stomach telling me to tread carefully.

It’s the self-love/self-help/self-improvement thing. Something doesn’t sit well with me.

And today, at the bottom of a rabbit hole (when one click leads to another lead and then to another) the unease took shape. The problem with the self-love movement is that it tells us that once we love and approve of ourselves we will be happy. Somehow — if I can accept that I’m a flawed human being and love myself unconditionally — then all will be right with the world.

And the problem is we believe self-love is the answer, the goal, the destination and the meaning of life.

It’s not.

Self-love is simply a way to remove the barriers that stop us doing the important work in our lives.

When we stop struggling against who we are (and how we should look) we are free to go after the things that really matter. We are free to love, support and engage with others outside of our interior experience.

Our greatest calling is to contribute to the world and make a difference in the lives of others. Our greatest calling is not to be at peace with ourselves. Being at peace with ourselves is just the means by which we can engage in a fulfilled life.

A life filled up with love, with connection, with pleasure and with pain.

Cracked wide open to all of life experiences.

Self-loathing stops us connecting. Self-doubt stops us taking risks. Guilt and shame stop us sharing ideas that could change the world.

Self-love strips away the mask so we can connect authentically. When we believe in ourselves we get on with living a great big life.

It’s not all about feeling good about yourself. It’s about letting go of the doubts and self-judgment so you can function, contribute and participate.

Accepting yourself is not the goal — it’s merely removing the roadblocks so you can get on with the things that matter.

And maybe, just maybe, getting on with the things that matter will help you realise that you’re OK just the way you are whether you love yourself or not.

→ What important thing would you do today if you totally believed in yourself?

→ Inspired by this post.

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing • Join the hottest group on FB → Sassy Ageless Women

22 thoughts on “Self-love is not the answer

  1. In one of those gifts of synchronicity, today is the first time I’ve ever visited your blog and here is this post, which is exactly what I needed to hear.

    I’ve struggled with self-love, and I think sometimes it is because it doesn’t feel like…enough? And this is the epiphany – self-love just gives me the ground to stand on. And *that* is what I’ve been missing – firm ground beneath my feet. Once it’s there, then I can start building.

    Thank you for this.

    1. Megan — I just got goosebumps reading your comment ….
      Self-love just gives me the ground to stand on. And *that* is what I’ve been missing – firm ground beneath my feet. Once it’s there, then I can start building.
      Abso-fucking-lutely!

  2. Amen to that, Katie.

    I don’t know that I totally believe in my abilities all the time, but I give myself permission to try whatever it is I want to try. I might fall short of the mark and that’s OK too.

    I say to myself, “I’m allowed”.

  3. Yes! I also think part of the problem is our cultural obsession with quick fixes, as in “If I learn to love myself, all my worldly problems will disappear”. It’s one of my issues with the Law of Attraction movement in general as it sidesteps our purpose to be more than channels or receptors for good things. Not to say that receiving goodness is a problem, more that it should not stop there.

    1. You’re so right Jo. I have a post brewing in my brain titled “Why I no longer believe in the LOA” because I too believe we are more than just here for good things to happen to us (and if bad things happen to us it doesn’t mean we’re doing “it” wrong). Thanks for stopping by x

  4. I can hardly even type right now, I’m so excited. You completely scooped me with this post and this general idea, and I love you for it! This has been roiling around in my brain for ages now, and I haven’t gotten to writing about it–and honestly, this is the perfect opening, so I’d better get on that so I can say what *I* have to say about it, eh? 😉 Thank you so much for writing it. Self love is absolutely, undoubtedly an important piece, because without it, we can be pretty stalled and stuck, but then we have to (*get* to) do the even more advanced level work, I think.

    1. Hey Amy … I love it when the Universe tells more than one of us the same thing … it’s a wonderful affirmation that we’re never alone.

      I can’t wait to read what you write. Make sure you come back here and leave us all a link xx

  5. I love love love the idea that self love is not the end of the road, that it is the beginning. It certainly takes the pressure off when you don’t have anything “designated for the end of your road!

  6. Brilliant post Katie! I think we can get so caught up in trying to love ourselves that we forget that there is more to it, that once we open our hearts to others we open so many other doors for ourselves and for life!
    Thank you for your beauty!

  7. Synchronicity — I learned that word recently, and it’s pleasingly right. It happens a lot on the blogosphere, doesn’t it? Another blogger actually used that same post of mine as the jumping-off point for an e-book…[this ‘un]. (Which I got a giveaway “copy” that I will be posting about very soon, but you didn’t hear it from me.)

    1. Hi Holly
      Sui talking about her book and its inspiration is how I came across you. It is surprising and delightful when our ideas create ripples that spread out in different directions.
      Thank you so much for stopping by x

  8. We’ve obviously got different perceptions of what self-love means. For me it equals 100% self-love responsibility and self-commitment….and not projecting my needs onto others, taking full ownership of all that is occurring in my life, the good, the bad and ugly. I think many people believe that self-love is this light fluffy pink blanket. When I made a commitment to myself many years ago to open myself to 100% self-love, I then spent many years meeting all the parts of myself I was rejecting loving…not pretty…. I started to really get to know myself at a deep core level….and my life has transformed dramatically but this took many years. For me, self-love is a lifelong journey – there’s nothing ‘quick fix’ about it….

  9. I’m just wondering what you mean by answer. Answer to happiness? In my case it is the answer to contentment. What greater thing can you do for mankind than to love yourself first and foremost. After all, we are one, therefore you are loving all. I believe love is the answer to everything.

  10. Quite possibly you view self love differently than the people who believe that self love is the answer. 🙂

    I don’t know what you’re trying to mean by answer but to me, self love indeed is the bottom line of everything.

    Love is love and when we learn to love ourselves, when we cultivate more compassion, acceptance and forgiveness for ourselves, we learn to do the same for others. We also give other space and allowance to be able to do the same for themselves. When we love ourselves, we make this world a better place to be in.

    Also, when we love ourselves, we become more conscious of everything we are doing with ourselves. We stop living by default and stop accepting less than we deserve. We understand our worth. Which means we start to make conscious effort to improve our lives.

    Also, when we love ourselves, we take better care of ourselves. We make effort to live healthier life. When we are healthy, we can also take care of other people. Which means better health for ourselves and others.

    Self love means better relationship, better health and better career. I do not see how it’s not the answer.

    Self love also means you’re holding yourself accountable for your happiness. You’re fulfilling your own needs and desires, you’re there for yourself. Which takes the burden off other people’s shoulder to please you. Which means you’re off expectations and you now rather have a grateful attitude when someone loves you than making them feel obliged or guilty if they don’t.

    Lastly, as someone said, the world doesn’t want to be saved, it wants to be loved (and that’s how you save it).

    Like anything in this world, self love is not some magic pill. You just swallow it once and tada!! Picture perfect life is available for you. It takes works. If you are not working towards this journey everyday and then saying oh,, self love isn’t the answer then maybe you need some self reflection first.

    Like when you lack appetite and growing weak every day because of it. So you go to doc, doc gives you meds for appetite. And it works. You’re now hungry. So now you’ve to follow that hunger and eat so you could gain strength and become healthy. If you refuse to eat and then say that they medicine is not making you healthy then you know where the problem is. Don’t you? Self love is the same medicine. It gives you the hunger. You are free to refuse to eat. But can we please not blame the medicine?

    And I’m sharing such strong and lengthy opinion about it because people do not even love themselves. They are struggling. At least let us open up to them and tell them that yes. It actually really helps. Than telling them that you know what, it doesn’t solve everything. Perhaps not every last thing but it is still the best cure out there.

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