There will be dark days.
There will be times when the past will haunt you, and the future will terrify you. Your mistakes will hang over your head until you beat yourself up about them. The fears that inhabit your subconscious will surface, and the confusion within your mind will exhaust you.
People you thought you’d forgotten will appear in every face you meet. Your failures will unexpectedly outweigh your successes, and your flaws will shine brightly in the mirror before you.
You won’t be kind to yourself or gentle—you won’t embrace your shortcomings, worries, and misunderstandings. You won’t put yourself first—and though you are here in the world, you won’t feel like part of it.
There are days you won’t be able to see the good in your life. Gratitude turns into a barren practice, and forgiveness appears to be intolerable. You will seek validation and attention. You will long for the stability which you think has long been lost.
In those difficult times, you won’t value yourself for who you are. You will look at yourself through the lens of other people and drown in their judgments and misconceptions about you.
You won’t surrender to life—let alone understand it. You won’t feel like pursuing what nourishes your soul, because you won’t care enough about what brings you delight and comfort.
There will be times when you will need a dose of familiar pain—the pain that gives your existence a reason. You will behold it and feel like plunging into its ocean once more….just one more time.
You will scrutinize yourself more than you can imagine. If you can’t detect an apparent flaw, you will dig for one. You will collect your imperfections and persuade yourself that they’re the reason behind all your disappointments.
There are days you simply aren’t going to love yourself…and it’s okay.
It’s alright to experience these days that make you want to leave your skin. This nonacceptance, disappointment, doubt, and intolerance toward yourself is part of the self-love journey. Love isn’t sectioned. The love we hold for ourselves, our families, friends, partners, nature, and so forth is the same: it doesn’t pressure things to constantly go right; rather, it stays, even when things go wrong.
There will always be highs and lows when it comes to love. I think we all understand this in the relationships we hold. We know that love can get messy. But oftentimes, we don’t reflect this truth in the relationship we have with ourselves.
To love oneself is a challenging task that the bulk of us don’t understand. I have found that the ultimate way to start loving myself is to consider “me” someone I respect, honor, and cherish in my life. Thus, I have grown accustomed to asking myself questions—such as, how I would treat this someone, what I would say to them, or how I would honor them?
This trick has always worked, because—like many others—I know how to be kind to everyone except myself. So, voilà! When I consider “me” in the same way as everyone else, I start to uncover the answers to self-love.
That said, let’s pause for a moment and visualize someone we love dearly having a bad day. If your partner, brother, or friend is in a state of confusion or dejection, would you leave them? Would you love them any less? In fact, we might love them more and stand by them because they need our support.
When we hit rock bottom—when the days we don’t love ourselves come knocking—how do we treat ourselves?
Do you support “you”?
I have found that not loving myself is an integral part of loving myself. Welcome your dark days the same way you’d welcome the days you feel bright, confident, and worthy.
We are still worthy, regardless of our state of mind. To keep honoring and supporting ourselves in all our conditions is what authentic love is about.
When darkness appears, know it’s part of the light. Let’s not beat ourselves up on the days we don’t feel good enough, worthy enough, or valued enough. Let’s not look at the momentary lows and think we have messed up this journey of self-love.
Be gentle and patient with yourself as you cross the heavy tides. You will cross them, I promise.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ~ 1st Corinthians 13:4-7
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Flickr/Holly Lay
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman