Some people have too much confidence, while others are lacking it to the extreme. Sometimes self-love gets a bad reputation, but it is challenging to live a meaningful life without a positive self-concept.
Liking yourself means coming to terms with who you are, flaws and all. We all make mistakes, but self-love allows us to forgive and move on. When we are happy with ourselves, we have the chance to see our imperfections as forgivable opportunities and learning experiences.
Sometimes we feel like it isn’t right to like ourselves, or we have the impression that there is something wrong with pride. But it isn’t easy to live a meaningful life if you don’t like yourself, so let’s take some time to talk about why it is essential.
It is ok to like yourself; in fact, it is necessary.
For a long time, I had trouble accepting myself; either I thought there was something wrong with my looks, personality, or anything else that I could think of. But a lot of this came from being young and not knowing myself so well; a lack of confidence can stem from a lack of understanding.
As I had more experiences and did some impressive things, like graduating from university and moving to another country, that started to change. With these experiences, I gained more confidence in myself, my judgment, abilities and self-concept. In part, this happened through life experience, but it was probably also simply because I was growing more mature.
When we are young, we are often confused about who we are or what we want out of our lives; these feelings make life more difficult and could explain teenage angst.
At the same time, we often look outside for validation and approval because of this lack of self-confidence. Due to this, friends can be a lifesaver, or they can send us down the wrong path.
With more experiences in life, we tend to become more comfortable with ourselves and who we are. So in time, we might start to rely less on the judgment of others for our validation. And this is where self-love comes into play because rather than relying on others, we rely on ourselves.
But again, part of growing up is a realization of who we are, but it is also about acceptance.
The thing about living is that we are all living our own lives, so we build our worlds out of our concept of self. Put another way, you might have heroes or people you look up to, but that comes from a desire to be like them. And so, while you might want to be like someone else, you are still stuck within yourself, and that is where you have to build from.
Liking yourself is crucial because it gives you the chance to see yourself as a work of progress that deserves attention and consideration. When you like yourself, you are willing to improve and work towards getting better; simultaneously, you see yourself as important enough to be taken care of. Without this care, it isn’t easy to work towards anything important because you don’t have a foundation of self-respect.
We learn to like ourselves through acceptance of who we are
There are always aspects of ourselves that we can change, but at the same time, there are essential factors that we can do nothing about. You can’t control where you were born or who your parents were; you also can’t do much about who you are or where your interests can be found. On top of this, there are other things that seem to matter, but we can’t change.
Now, we shouldn’t forget about the things that we can change; you don’t have to be a jerk, you can get in better sharp if you try, and you can develop new skills that you don’t currently have.
But for many things, we need to be willing to accept that they are a part of us, and rather than fighting them, we should learn to work with them and move on.
So much of what can give us trouble and dissatisfaction comes from a lack of willingness to accept what we can’t change, which is one of the major lessons from the stoics. Indeed, we can’t change where we were born, but we can accept what it is and move on. Your situation might not be ideal, and you can work towards improving it, but refusing to accept it will cause more pain in the long run.
Growing up, I had lots of reading problems which made school a difficult place, and no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to change. Luckily my parents found a school that focused on kids like me and was able to teach me what public school couldn’t. However, before that, going to school was a painful and challenging experience that deeply impacted my mental health.
But what I’ve learnt was to accept that those struggles were a part of my life and made me stronger as a result.
These days, I know I have more resilience than a lot of people that I know. At the same time, I accept that some of the kids back then were jerks, but they also didn’t understand. But most importantly, I needed to get over the pain they caused me and focus on myself and what I can do now rather than dwelling on the past.
In the end, it is difficult to accept ourselves for who we are; it is something that takes time. Equally important, when we make mistakes, we can see ourselves as flawed, or we can see ourselves as evolving individuals learning from those mistakes. Regardless of who we are, what matters most is that we learn to accept ourselves for who we are, our flaws and all.
Self-love and living a meaningful life
To live a meaningful life, we need to be willing to step back from what everyone else is saying and listen to the voice inside of our heads. While we can ask others for advice, in truth, only we know what is truly best for us and our lives. And while these are vital realizations to come to, they are not possible without some level of self-acceptance and love.
When we accept ourselves, we free ourselves from the constraints of our culture and the people around us. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t listen to others’ advice, but that sometimes people are wrong or they have different priorities than we do. That said, to be clear about what matters, we need to listen to ourselves, and we can’t do that without taking the time to accept ourselves for who we are.
At times, finding meaning in what we are doing is easy because it is obvious. But other times, it takes work and careful consideration about what we are doing and why we are doing it. If we do things for the wrong reasons, in the long run, we will be unhappy with the results, regardless of what they are.
When we are clear about who we are and what we want, the results won’t matter as long as we work towards them.
To live a meaningful life, we need to be clear about what we want, but to be clear, we need first to be transparent about who we are ourselves. And while it is easy to go along with things, it is difficult, to be honest, and follow our hearts, but that is what we must do if we want to be happy. But once again, that first requires that we like ourselves; otherwise, we have no foundation to build from.
All of life is a series of experiences, but the ones that match our goals and values will bring the most satisfaction. That said, without self-love and clarity of who we are, none of the above is possible. So if you have not yet accepted yourself for who you are, be sure to put some effort into the process because it will bring important long-term benefits.