A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon an interesting picture while scrolling through my Facebook page. The words ”You have to love yourself before anyone else can take the role of loving you” were written in large letters. The quote really got to me and for a moment I actually felt an ounce of despair. Is it really not possible for anyone else to love me if I do not completely love myself first?

The first thing that came to my mind was the definition of the words ”loving yourself”. Does it mean that you should put yourself first or is it more about self-confidence?

In Sweden we sometimes talk about putting ourselves in “the first room”, but in English I guess you would refer to it as putting yourself first. Often when talked about, the first room is something good and an absolutely necessary thing to do to improve your personal welfare. When applying Cognitive Egoism to your life, you allow yourself to do things that bring happiness to your daily life.

“By making yourself the first priority, especially by doing things that makes you happy and makes you feel good, you get energy. That energy is needed while taking care of a job, a home and taking care of others.”

Cecilia Kärvegård, Swedish Behaviourist in Aftonbladet Wellness.

I do agree with this form of loving yourself. I actually do believe that by putting yourself in the first room and treating yourself right, you get the energy to be able to let yourself be loved by someone else as well.

If by loving yourself means that you have to create a spot-on self-confidence or self-esteem, then I disagree with that. Self esteem has to do with the feeling you have of yourself, it’s the version of yourself that you wish other people see. When growing up, I lacked a lot of self esteem. When I look back at the way I used to feel about myself, I honestly feel heartbroken. I did not consider myself beautiful nor did I feel good enough, because I had people telling me that I was not. I believed them, completely, which dragged my self-esteem down a lot.

Today I look at myself in a very different way. I may not consider myself beautiful every-time I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror, I may not be great in every single thing that I do. However, what I do know today, that I didn’t know a couple of years ago, is that I am totally and completely good enough just the way I am.

Today, the number of young people living with a mental illness is rising. The Swedish National Centre for Suicide-research and Prevention of Mental Illness presents numbers of young people in Sweden living with a mental illness. The amount of young Swedish women hospitalised for trying to take their own lives or for self-destructive behaviour, has increased by large numbers since the early 90’s. It’s also a fact that the number of adolescents suffering from anxiety has increased by three hundred percent in Sweden over the last twenty years.

The question many people, including myself, is asking themselves is why this is happening now. Why is it that more young women try to take their own life today? One aspect of the problem might be the immense pressure created by our society today, on how you are supposed to look and act. The idea of what is considered beautiful and successful suddenly narrows down quite a bit while scrolling through social media. I often catch myself blaming society for these ideals, when in reality, society includes all of us. We are all capable of changing the ideals we find lousy – we are all capable of changing society.

I don’t think that you need someone else to tell you that you are beautiful before you realize it yourself. You are fully capable of realizing that on your own.

From my own experience, it’s easy to fall into some kind of idea that there is only one type of look or some characteristics that society find appealing, which is utterly and completely wrong. How much of a cliché it might be, everyone is in fact beautiful in their own way. I don’t know if I will ever love every single part of myself, but that is okay, because even my less attractive parts makes me, me.

Featured photo credit: Aki Tolentino

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Category: Health    Mental Health    Wellness
Tagged with: beauty    Mental Health    self esteem    self love    Social norms