This post is not what you think. On this day of love, I figured, what better time for me to share how much I hate the phrase Love Yourself. (Lol)
I bring this to you as someone who has done this, been on the receiving end of it and am changing. I understand the meaning behind this phrase and agree wholeheartedly — but the way it is used, rubs me the wrong way.
Love Yourself is often rooted in the toxic positivity and shaming culture of the self-help movement. It’s advice given to those who are unhappy, struggling, or have gone through or are going through a difficult time. When used this way, it sends the message that what is happening is wrong and needs to be fixed, changed, and avoided at all costs.
This doesn’t feel helpful, understanding, or kind.
I also dislike this phrase for the following reasons:
First – Love is a multi-faceted, constantly changing emotion. My love for my children is different than the feeling of love for a friend, and is different than my love for a partner, or my love of coffee…or the way I love rock and roll. My love for people has grown, diminished, and morphed. At times my love feels stronger, sometimes I demonstrate love in action, other times love operates quietly in the background. So, self love is going to be unique to each person, at different times, in a variety of ways, but it doesn’t mean it is absent.
Second – Prescribing self love to someone is too abstract to be helpful. What does love myself mean? How does one do it? If someone is stuck in a pattern of self-loathing or has gone through a difficult situation – is the advice to simply love yourself going to have any impact? Not only is it almost impossible to go from one extreme emotion to another, but if we can’t identify what is loving or ways to achieve this, how can we implement it? There are no specifics or tools given with this advice love yourself, so is it helpful to anyone?
Third – I would argue, one has to know oneself before they even know how to love oneself. Many of us simply don’t know ourselves. Our culture is focused on external – working, relationships, taking care of others, building a nest egg, going on vacation. We haven’t learned to know ourselves, be present with ourselves…so how could we possibly know what to do to love ourselves? We don’t always know the best way to love another person, until we have spent time and gotten to know them. This is true for ourselves too.
Fourth – Most of us don’t really know how to love ourselves so what business do we have telling someone else to love themselves? Giving this advice to others then comes with a dose of hypocrisy and that never feels good. (I say this and call myself out here,, because I know I’ve done things like this to others). The people I’ve met who truly understand self love do not feel compelled to interfere with another, give advice, or think any one or anything needs to change. They know everyone is on their path and will find their way.
I know, in my very co-dependent ways, I’ve thought I was being helpful to others. I’ve given a lot of advice and while some of it was good, I’m sure some of it rubbed people the wrong way.
I am practicing to turn inward and I am learning more about myself. As I do this more often, I understand better ways to love and care for myself and feel more authentic.
As always — I continue to grow.