Self Love is Freedom. Be Free!

“You don’t need their love to live.
You don’t need their acceptance to succeed.
Self love is freedom.
Be Free.”
– Shhheba

The universe has been sending me some serious messages lately, and I’ve been taking notice. The common theme: Self Love. The signs have been everywhere from memes to self help articles to relationship articles; the list goes on! It got me thinking. So often in my sisterhood circles and encounters with other women we talk about self love but rarely get to the root of it. What does love of self really mean? What does self love mean to me, and do I have enough of it?

I’ve broken down self love into three parts:
1. How I feel about and treat myself.
2. How I allow others to treat me.
3. How I treat others.

Me, Myself & I

How do I feel about myself?
To answer the above question, take note of your persistent thoughts and patterns. Are you encouraging yourself internally on a daily basis? Are your thoughts and opinions about yourself negative or positive? The tone of our self talk can tell us a lot about the way we feel about ourselves. In relationships positive and negative communication have the power to either nurture or destroy. The same goes for our relationships with ourselves which is one of the most important relationships we will have. The good news is that this is entirely in our control. If you want to change your life, you must change your thinking. Be mindful of how you react either internally or verbally to daily situations right down to when you wake up in the morning or look in the mirror. When you catch negative thoughts, stop yourself immediately and turn them around. One great tool I’ve used to do this is with affirmations on a consistent and as-need basis. As a professor of mine used to say, “Repetition is the mother of all skills.” The more I practiced and changed my thinking the quicker it became a habit.
How do I treat myself?
Ask yourself, “Am I taking care of me today?”
When was the last time you took some time for yourself?
When was the last time you went to the doctor?
Are you eating a healthy diet?
Are you exercising?
Are you drinking enough water?
Are you using substances that may be harmful to your body?
When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?
I think about these questions all the time. I constantly have to reevaluate and take my own inventory, which is important as long your not being overly critical of yourself. Self love starts from within, yes, but it is also reflected in how well we take care of ourselves. Actions speak louder than words. I can say that I love myself, but if I’m not caring for my body and emotional well being.. do I really? Go down this list, you can add to it if you’d like, and start writing down the things you need to do for yourself. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to follow through when you put everything down on paper.

Who Is In Your Corner?

How do I allow others to treat me?
The company we keep and how we allow them to treat us is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Who is in your corner? When we have love of self, we surround ourselves with positive people that have our best well being in mind; friends, family and partners that love us and want us to succeed. So often, however, we may accept treatment that is less than what we deserve. We rationalize their behavior for plenty of reasons, and the most often root of the problem is that we accept the love we believe we deserve. A few years ago, I left an abusive relationship. Before that time, I could have given you a novel on all the reasons I just couldn’t leave. One of the biggest reasons I stayed among all the others is because I did not believe I deserved true love. I thought I deserved the horrific treatment I was receiving, and if we’re being honest, I didn’t know what love was at all. Today, I don’t tolerate disrespect because I have love and respect for myself. I don’t keep company that is toxic, and I’ve learned two very valuable lessons.
I never need to give anyone a reason for removing toxic people from my life.
NO is a full sentence even if others do not believe so.
Never apologize for making choices that are healthy for you. In fact, if you find that someone is unsupportive of changes you make in your lifestyle for your overall benefit, they don’t need to be in your life.
For me, I needed someone to spell things out for me when I was getting back on my feet. I needed to hear and read words that were clear so that I could learn. I thought I was crazy for thinking some of the below things because I allowed myself to be pushed down for so long. For those of you that might need that push, I made a list.
They do NOT love you if they…
1. Insult you
2. Belittle you
3. Belittle or embarrass you in front of others
4. Mock or make fun of your dreams and ambitions
5. Isolate you from friends and family
6. Actively encourage you to engage in risky, negative, or life threatening behaviors
7. Advocate your engagement with risky, negative, or life threatening behaviors
8. Lie to you
9. Use presents, money, housing, or favors to manipulate or blackmail you.
10. Gossip about you
11. Only call/make contact when they need something from you
12. Repeatedly invade and disrespect your privacy
13. Obsessively monitor your location or whereabouts
14. Disrespect your physical and/or sexual boundaries
15. Disregard your physical and emotional needs and well being (i.e. emotional abuse, depriving you of sleep, food, essential needs etc.)
16.  Physically harm you in any way (i.e. hitting, slapping, throwing objects, kicking, etc.)
17. Destroy your personal property
I could make that list longer, but I believe I’ve gotten my point across. If you have someone in your life who does those things to you that person does NOT love you. “But… they said they love me!” Words are cheap, and actions are priceless. Any person, regardless of what position they are in your life or who they have been to you, that does any of the above things does not have your best interest at heart. When you love someone, that is what you have. You want what is best for them, and anything less is unacceptable. Ask yourself this, “Would I do any of those things to someone I love?” You’re probably saying, “Of course not!” That’s my point exactly. We started from within ourselves, and now we have moved outward. We started with changing our insides and self talk, and now it is time to change our surroundings to reflect these changes.

I Am My Sister and My Sister Is Me

Now, we’re going back on the inside because, after all, this is a inside job. “I am my sister, and my sister is me” is Shhheba’s motto. Whatever you do to someone else you are in turn doing to yourself. Simply put, hurt people hurt people. Let me turn this around for a minute, do you do anything on the list above to other people? Are you short tempered or harsh with those in your life?
So far, we’re changing our self talk and our insides, we’re weeding out toxicity from our circles, and now we have to hold ourselves accountable for the damage we do to others. It is never a one way street. When we have love of self we are better able to love others. Reflecting on the last section, think about relationships. I am unable to love another human being totally and unconditionally if I do not love myself. I am totally incapable of providing the genuine love and affection they deserve when I am not right within myself. The more you are able to love yourself, the better you be able to give that love out to those in your life.
Breaking the chains of the past are not always easy especially when we have self conditioned to think so lowly of ourselves. Self love truly is freedom. When we stop searching for affection in the wrong places to fill the void and realize we have it with in.. what is there to search for? There is nothing we need to find to complete ourselves because we are already complete.
News flash: If you’re reading this you are already on the way there.
Be free,

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