Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every artist was first an amateur.” When you consider some of the greatest painters of all-time, names like Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Monet- it’s hard to ever imagine them as ever being anything other than spectacular at their craft. No one, though, is born an expert or an all-star. Achieving that status takes a considerable amount of time, practice, trying and failing and trying again. Every person who has ever became one of the best at anything, started their journey at the very beginning. Every one has a first time.
It’s not any different when you consider the art of loving yourself. We aren’t born knowing how to do that, in fact, it’s almost as if we learn the exact opposite. We are always taught to be humble and to put others before ourselves. From a very early age we are told that being selfish is a terrible thing and that we never want to display those tendencies. While I understand the reason we are taught those things, the message many times gets interpreted as we need to put ourselves last. After years of learning and doing just that, is it any wonder that we have difficulty learning to love ourselves?
It is absolutely important to learn to see the beauty in our own reflection. There is a difference between being cocky and being aware of the fact that you are worthy, valuable, and deserving of love. It takes practice to accomplish this, though, since it doesn’t come naturally. When you learn to love yourself though, all kinds of wonderful things begin to happen. When you know your worth, you refuse to accept being treated like anything less than valuable.
Learning to love yourself doesn’t mean you have to immediately look in the mirror and fall in love with what you see. You do, however, need to start to be able to fall in love with the heart you know resides inside of that physical body. That’s a beautiful place to start and a wonderful place to finish. Make a list of your wonderful attributes-and stop dismissing those things because they matter so much more than you think. John Mayer said, “If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving. Otherwise, it’s just “congratulations about your face.”
Physical beauty may be a nice thing to have, but it isn’t permanent-it fades and is a temporary possession. Inner beauty, though, qualities like compassion, intelligence, gentle kindness and loving empathy, are permanent traits that stay with us forever. As humans we tend to be attracted to temporary things and then become upset when our happiness doesn’t last. We have to begin to love the things that are permanent, for those are the things that will bring us lasting joy. Pay attention because those permanent things I’m discussing include ourselves.
It has been my experience that people who have learned to love themselves are so accepting and loving of others. Those people exude a joy and a nonjudgmental persona that is pure magic in action. I think the confusion lies in the fact that people think loving ourselves means we have to not have imperfections and flaws. That is absolutely incorrect. Loving ourselves means we have come to accept our imperfections and our flaws and we see our true beauty while embracing those things. We don’t have to be perfect. In fact, perfection is overrated and quite boring.
Consider this: the sparkle in a diamond can be related to it’s flaws. The light which filters through the diamond, reflects off of the imperfections, redirecting the light and thus creating more sparkle. I think it is the same situation with people. We all have our flaws and our imperfections and when we embrace those things, we sparkle and illuminate our beauty to the rest of the world. Our message to the world is that we are okay with who we are and it is absolutely contagious and irresistible.
It’s not an easy thing to begin to do, and it is something you absolutely cannot do wrong. Begin to see the individual beauty you possess and practice embracing the wonderful things that God has blessed you with that no one else exudes. I know some days it feels like we don’t have anything special, but we always do.
Just like anything else you want to become proficient at, you have to practice learning to love yourself. I think it’s important to remember that loving yourself has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks about you. People will like you and people will hate you. Either way, it has nothing to do with you. You don’t control any one else’s emotions and feelings. Perhaps you wish to recreate your image of yourself. That’s okay too. As we begin this journey we may find things we want to change and improve about ourselves. Wonderful–Do those things and while doing them, start to like yourself now.
Think about the course of your life and the times when you have fallen in love with other people–you didn’t love them immediately. First you liked them and then you began having deeper feelings for them. It’s perfectly fine to start with getting to really know yourself. List the things you like and don’t like and things you’d like to change or improve upon. If there are things you don’t like, work on those items and figure out how to evolve into more of the person you want to become—then take small steps into promoting that transformation.
Always remember that it’s okay to not have it all figured out. Everyone starts somewhere. A really great place to start is to stop disliking yourself for everything you aren’t and really start liking yourself for all of the beautiful things that you already are. Create your own definition of beauty and don’t let anyone else define your pretty. Always remember that you deserve the type of love that you would give to anybody else. In those moments of self-doubt, when you feel the need to start pleasing other people, tell yourself that it’s not their job to like you, it’s yours.