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The Issue with Self Love

Today everyone is always emphasizing the importance of self love. Everyone talks about how vital it is to love every bit of yourself, even your flaws. I have long struggled with self love, as many have, and I have always felt like learning to love my flaws was impossible. I felt like I was missing out on some great thing, some sort of enlightenment that others had and I did not. I have come to realize that I was not missing anything but the real meaning of self love. Many understand self love as loving yourself including your flaws and not caring how others perceive you or what they think, but I believe that this definition is wrong.

Dictionary.com officially defines self-love as “the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or wellbeing, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.” By its very definition, self love has nothing to do with learning to love your flaws or not caring about others’ opinions, it is about promoting your own welfare. The goal of self love is to put yourself into the proper mindset to acknowledge your flaws and work on them in a positive way. I believe that true self love is about accepting who you are while pushing yourself to become better. Don’t be mistaken, I am not saying you need to be better according to societal norms or pressures, I mean that you should better yourself to become who you want to be, whatever that means for you.

I also think that the current understanding of self love is dangerous. If not thought about mindfully and practiced correctly, self love can be a double-edged sword. The definition I have given is only the first definition the dictionary gives. The second definition of self-love is “conceit or vanity” and the third is “narcissism.” If all we do is focus on loving every bit of ourselves and not caring what others think, then it is very easy to become self centered, vain, and narcissistic.

We should always be mindful of our flaws and realize not only that they are there but that they make us imperfect and that is ok. We should also care what others think. Sure, we shouldn’t care what strangers or acquaintances think of us or let their opinions have an affect on our decisions, but we should care what those close to us think. Our friends, family, and others in our close social circle know us very well and if they express concern about our behavior or have a negative opinion, it is at least worth listening to what they have to say and give it some serious thought. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with positive people who accept you and are honest with you, because we often seek approval from others and we are more likely to get it from people who support us and will push us to be better.

I am in no way against self love, but I do think that people have illusions about what self love is. Self love is not some joyous enlightenment, self love is a daily war to wake up and not hate what you see in the mirror. Self love is not about loving your flaws but accepting that they are there and actively working to better them, all while learning not to worry that others will view you negatively because of them or let them control your actions or decisions. Self love is about listening to advice and opinions from those close to you, reflecting on those opinions, and ultimately making a decision on you own about who you are, who you want to be, and how you’re going get there.

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