By Guest Contributor Marisa Jayne
I am going to let you all in on a little secret today... life gets a lot better when you learn to love yourself.
Unfortunately, depending on your starting point, that isn’t as easy as it seems and coming from the self-declared queen of loving herself sick, I can tell you that you need to learn 'how' to practice self-love.
Self-love sure is the phrase of the moment. I don’t know about you but I see it pretty much everywhere. It has infiltrated my favourite lifestyle publications, it is constantly shoved down my throat on Instagram (and not in a good way), and now, even the packaging on my food and the labels on my clothes are telling me to love me, for me.
In no shape or form, do I think this increased discourse around self-love is a bad thing. With the constant lockdowns, negative news cycles and the rise of pandemic fatigue, now more than ever it is so important to treat ourselves with some extra self-lovin’.
Even though we are bombarded by this phrase on a daily basis, it is a difficult one to define and as someone who has preached about self-love for the past 18 months or so, I still struggle to answer the question of what exactly self-love is.
If you were to do a quick search on old-mate Google, self-love can be defined as "having high regard and concern for one's own happiness". That sounds all well and good, but if you dig a little deeper and as the term only grows in popularity, conversations around self-love have shifted to whether the term is selfish or not. Self-love has been noted as a concept that is both a fundamental part of a happy, healthy life (great news), but also an individual flaw, connected closely to being selfish, vain or a narcissist (not so great news.)
I am a strong believer that self-love is not selfish at all and instead is a necessity for living your best life. If anything, when you do get to the point where you utterly and truly love yourself sick (à la moi), you are in a much better position to treat the others around you with mutual love, respect and care - the same kind that deep down you know you deserve.
Only a mere two years ago, I didn’t love myself. Correction, I hardly even liked myself. I was a big ball of self-hatred and was so caught up in what others thought of me, my personality and my appearance. It got to the point that nothing else really mattered to me.
I wanted to be liked and I wanted to be loved, but that is beyond difficult when you don’t know who you are and the person you are being, isn’t too great of a human either. During this time of self-doubt and hatred, I suffered from crippling bouts of anxiety and depression. The things I would mutter to myself in the mirror were beyond unpleasant musings and this ball of negativity turned into a horrible cycle where not only did I treat myself so poorly, I didn’t really have any regard for others around me.
Whenever I went out with my friends, all I thought about was people comparing me to my mates and more often than not. A night out would end in tears and an argument or two with my best friends.
When you hate yourself, you hate your life, so in turn, I was bitter. I was narcissistic. And sure as hell, I was selfish. I remember some moments so clearly of not being able to celebrate some of my best friend’s achievements as all it did was make me reflect on my own failures. These are some of the days that I regret the most and I wish I could’ve been more present and elated during the moments that needed it; from the engagement parties and the weddings to the birthdays and the house-warmings.
After one too many breakdowns, which were more often than not public (apologies to those who had to witness them first hand), I had finally had enough and decided to take control of my life.
One of my core beliefs is to make sustainable and lasting changes, you need to get a little uncomfortable - so I pushed myself far out of my comfort zone. For me, that wasn’t rock-climbing or learning to surf, it was learning how to sit alone with myself, work out who I was, establish the person I wanted to be remembered as and force myself to switch my mindset to a more positive tuning.
That shift was not easy and was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I drowned my sorrows in lists of the things I liked about myself, chanted mantras in the mirror (don’t mock it until you try it - it freakin’ works!) and had open conversations with my friends and family.
The most crucial part of this change in mindset was defining what self-love meant to me and no, it wasn’t retail therapy, face-masking with crystals or eating the entire market of fresh produce (although, it’s totally fine if that’s you!). For me, self-love was and still is all about dedicating a night a week to crappy chick flicks. It’s ordering my favourite Uber Eats in my pyjamas. It’s going for a three-hour walkout in nature listening to my favourite podcats. It’s the moments where I am unapologetically myself - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Trust me, when I say, this little self-dedication worked wonders. Actually, don’t ask me. Ask one of my friends or even one of my Instagram followers who get to be on the other end of my self-love rants (lucky for them, hey...)
Ever since I got to this happy place - and don’t get me wrong, girlfriend still has her demons and her bad days - but, I have become a much better human being. I am now in a position to unconditionally love others, whether that be my family, my friends or my future husband.
If anything, learning to love myself has made me less selfish of a person. I am more compassionate to those around me and most importantly, I am at a place that I am so confident in myself, I am no longer threatened by the success of my counterparts. In fact, I am fucking thrilled when they get a win and couldn’t be prouder of them.
At the end of the day, although self-love is caring about your own happiness - happiness is MUCH better when shared, It means knowing what you deserve, no more and no less, and giving back to others in alignment to these same standards. Self-love makes you an overall better human and fundamentally it means that you will treat others the way you wish to be treated.
If there is one thing to take out of this, when you love yourself, you love your life. And when you love your life, those around you tend to love their life also.
Marisa Jayne is the voice, the brains and the beauty behind the Selfish Sesh, a podcast exploring self-love, identity, mental health, sex and relationships without all of the bullshit..
Follow her here and listen to Selfish Sesh wherever you get your Podcasts.