Loving ourselves. Owning our past.
"In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you."
- Andrea Dykstra
Self-love can be tough, especially for people who grew up in unfavorable environments where love was misused, abused or ignored altogether. Learning to love ourselves is at the foundation of self-care, so we should all be practicing healthy self-love. Hopefully, we have learned (or are learning) how to love ourselves in a healthy way, regardless of our past. We cannot change how we mistreated ourselves and how others mistreated us, but we can control how we treat ourselves moving forward. Self-care also means having healthy expectations for how others should treat us too.
We all had different experiences growing up. Some people were dealt much tougher hands than others. While we may not be able to pick the cards we are dealt, it's on us to play our best hand. Sometimes we may have nothing else to do but fold. We have to be willing to ante up again. We also have to be willing to learn and grow from our experiences. Our experiences can teach us how to love ourselves if we are willing to accept where we are in life and what we have been through. From there, we can work on improving our own quality of life by incorporating self-love and self-care practices.
When it comes to how we are treated by others, we may not be able to prevent being treated poorly or unfairly, but we can take measures to reduce the unwanted treatment. This is a big part of self-love. We have to be willing to set boundaries. We have to be willing to speak up. We have to be willing to stand up for ourselves when we feel like we have been mistreated. That's self-love. Regardless of how we responded in the past to being mistreated, we can always choose a better response. We can choose to honor and respect ourselves in the name of self-love and self-care.
Regardless of how we have treated ourselves in the past, we can always demand better. We should be our own best friend. We should be our own biggest cheerleader. We owe it to ourselves. When we treat ourselves with the dignity and respect we deserve, we also set an example for others of how we expect to be treated. The better we treat ourselves with self-love and self-care, the more we set ourselves up for living a much better quality of life.
Psychology Today: Healing the Past in the Present
Very Well Mind: 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life