Everyone says you should accept yourself as you are. But it’s not that simple. Besides, the question arises: Do we really need even more self-love in a society full of self-promoters?
Love yourself! Accept your weaknesses! Embrace your inner child! All this is written in many guidebooks today. Self-love is the word of the hour – and admittedly it sounds great and like “I want to”. But how on earth are we supposed to love ourselves while we are constantly stumbling across great people with dreamlike lives on the net? People who suggest to us that such a normal average existence is something we should be ashamed of? Isn’t unconditional self-love a bit much to ask?
Cry, inner child!
In all honesty, the majority of us are far, far away from all the artificial flawlessness that some would have us believe really exists. They claim that we only need to invest a tiny bit in our self-optimization and – poof – we could belong. To the exquisite circle of the beautiful and desirable with the taut thighs and wrinkle-free faces. After all, being beautiful and sexy is in your own hands, and if you don’t participate, you’ve only yourself to blame.
“Cry, inner child, and wallow in self-pity and your bad connective tissue! And now, good luck with your self-love.” Well, thanks!
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Comparing makes you unhappy. Especially on the net
The fact is that there are now several studies that show that constant comparison with others makes us unhappy and affects our self-image. Scientists from the Danish Happiness Research Institute, for example, say that those who scroll through the postings of friends, colleagues and celebrities on social networks day after day end up feeling envious and inadequate.
True to the motto “Hey Loser-Ich, why don’t you sit on the beach and sip cocktails like your neighbor with the great living room furniture? At the end of the timeline, there is the sobering realization that everyone has a cool, exciting life, but unfortunately not oneself.
But what is the difference between healthy self-love and the completely exaggerated glorification of oneself? After all, quite a few scientists now speak of an “age of the narcissists” in which adolescents are already celebrating and staging themselves without limits.
Those who learn to accept their weaknesses and mistakes no longer have the need to hide © Stefaniya Gutovska / Shutterstock.com
“Narcissism is a conspicuous self-involvement and exaggerated self-centredness”, explains Anne Heintze, therapist and founder of the Open Mind Academy. “Narcissistic people are primarily concerned with themselves and are not interested in others. They overestimate themselves excessively and have an exaggerated attitude of entitlement”. Self-love on the other hand is the acceptance of one’s own personality, the acceptance of what and how we are.
“Self-love means trusting oneself, respecting oneself and learning to appreciate one’s own value. Self-acceptance plays a decisive role here”, says Heintze.
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The exact definition of the tightrope walk between self-love and self-criticism is also important for another reason: Apparently, a great many women today share the concern of coming across as self-involved or even being labelled narcissistic. For example, the British linguistics expert Judith Baxter from Aston University in Birmingham found in a study that men make jokes at the expense of others in 90 percent of cases.
70 percent of women, on the other hand, only ever make jokes at the expense of themselves. “As absurd as it sounds, this negative talk should actually have a positive effect,” explains personality coach Kim Fleckenstein. It may sound paradoxical at first, but it is evolutionarily anchored in us. In the course of human development, men have long been focused on competition with others, whereas women have always had a stronger sense of community.
For them, it is important – apparently even today – to have a less threatening effect on others and to be able to build as large a community as possible around themselves. If you let others look behind the façade (“I’ve never really been good at giving a presentation”), you tear down walls and look like a lovable person.
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Evolution is a stupid thing sometimes. Because in this respect, it makes life unnecessarily difficult for us. If we look at the results of a self-love survey (Women’s Health International), 67 percent of the women surveyed believe that people who love themselves are also perceived more positively by others. Just 3 percent think that people who accept and love themselves appear arrogant. And 77 percent stated that they had never been called self-love by others.
Ergo: To love oneself is not a crime, but on top of that makes people like oneself.
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Admittedly, there is no patent remedy that makes it easy to immediately rest deep within oneself and to radiate love from every pore. But there are a few clever tips that can pave the way for all those whose self-love level could use a little push up. So: Have courage – you are great!
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1. stop comparing yourself
This whole self-dramatization on Instagram & Co. is getting to be too much for you sometimes? Then just avoid the people who make you feel uncomfortable. Be it because you feel envy coming up inside you or anger at yourself because you might not have such a great trained body. Comparisons with celebrities are limping, because the image they convey on the net a) is often not quite real and b) does not automatically represent worthwhile goals.
Self-love means trusting yourself, respecting yourself and appreciating your own value © Stefaniya Gutovska / Shutterstock.com
2. do not strive for perfection
You don’t have to be perfect. Not for you or for anyone else. Or do you always expect 100% from those around you? Probably not because you know there’s no such thing. Then why are you so hard on yourself? I’d rather be easy, true to the motto: “Perfect is boring, human is beautiful!”
3. have some guts
What have you always wanted to do, but have put it off until now? No matter what the challenge is – go for it, put all your strength and heart and soul into it and in the end you will experience the feeling of having reached your goal, which should not be underestimated!
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4. stack not so deep
No matter whether in your resume or online dating profile: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. You’re somebody, you’re good at something, and everybody should know that. And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop beating yourself up about it. Sentences like “I never do anything right” are best deleted from your repertoire immediately. Instead, push yourself and praise yourself more often.
5. take care of yourself
This includes saying no more than once without delaying an explanation. You’re not feeling well, and you need time to yourself? Then say it, and don’t make up excuses. Listen to yourself and your body. That’s self-love too.
No more constant self-optimization: you are good enough! 67 percent believe that people who love themselves are also perceived more positively by others © Stefaniya Gutovska / Shutterstock.com
6. be who you want to be
Sometimes we can’t like ourselves very much because we have chosen a path in life that is not ours. Then we suddenly realize that we are in the wrong job or living with the wrong man. And now what? Overturn everything, redo everything? The uncomfortable answer is probably yes. Go inside yourself and ask yourself what you really expect from life and in which life you would really feel comfortable.
This doesn’t work during a five-minute brainstorming session, but takes a few weeks or months – and it’s painful. But it’s worth it!
Only those who love themselves can love others – is that right?
A sentence that comes up again and again, especially when it doesn’t work out with the great love somehow. “First learn to love yourself. Then you’ll be ready to give and receive love.” Sounds like a wisdom from grandma and somehow a touch spiritual. Is there really something to that? “That’s really true”, therapist Anne Heintze knows, “Acceptance of oneself is the first step to gaining acceptance from others.”
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This makes it all the more drastic that, according to the above-mentioned survey, a full 60 percent of the participants have already asked themselves the question of how it is possible that their partner loves them and why he or she wants to be with them at all. Almost 20 percent said they had these thoughts all the time. “You don’t have to do others any favours to make them respect you. They should love you because you are who you are and not because you are who you are,” says the expert.