The struggle in loving yourself stems from the fact that you know yourself.

On a subconscious level, you know ALL about yourself. You know when you’re doing good. You know when you’re being horrible (no matter how much you try to justify it). On some level, you always know.

That’s why it’s so hard to love yourself. Because society has taught you that you’re supposed to be perfect. Society told you that perfection is defined as the lack of imperfections. (Society lies.)

But deep down, you know your imperfections will never go away. So, you get angry with yourself. Your anger turns into hate. You loathe yourself for being flawed.

Then, you run away. From yourself. And the further you run, the more you can’t see that your imperfections are precisely why YOU ALREADY ARE PERFECT.

So stop. Stop running. Because, my dear, self-love is not a dirty word. Self-love is not narcissism. Self-love is not selfish.

Self-love is the key to true happiness.

Here’s why.

1. You will push yourself to be the person YOU want to be.

If you truly love someone, you would do anything for them. And so, it must mean that if you truly loved yourself, you wouldn’t let your fears and anxieties – mere constructs of the mind – control you. No matter how daunting change is, you will allow yourself to fight your fears. Because you know that even if you fall, you’d have what it takes to pick yourself up.

At the end of the day, you won’t want to live up to society’s expectations any longer. Because you won’t care. The only expectations you’d live by are your own. And you’d love yourself enough to want to reach for the stars, no matter how long it takes.

Best of all, when your chains of fear and worry shatter into a million tiny little pieces, you will realise that there’s nothing you can’t do. Whatever mountain you were afraid to climb before, whether your fear stemmed from societal expectations or your self-imposed limits, will still seem daunting but you will love yourself enough to want to overcome your fears. You will realise that you can take your life in any direction you want. You can do anything you want. You ALWAYS had it in you. You will realise that you don’t have to wait forever to be the person you want to be or to lead the life you want to lead. You will stop doing things you dread and fill your life with activities that you know will result in growth and happiness. You will be happy.

2. Your self-worth will never be dependent on anyone else.

When you don’t love yourself, you remain unhappy because you don’t want to live your whole life fearing that you’re truly as horrible as you think you are. So you try to seek validation from others. But even when they give it to you, some part of you remains disbelieving. You feel as if they will get sick of you one day. You believe they will leave. You believe you don’t deserve love. You believe you don’t deserve validation.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You naturally gravitate towards people whose actions support your beliefs. Your self-worth is buoyed by the moods of those around you. You begin to panic when you see those blue ticks on WhatsApp – and you still haven’t received a response. You try to please. You try to change yourself to the point that you forget who you are. Just to fit the expectations of those around you, without wondering if those expectations should even exist in the first place.

The harsh but simple truth is that if you don’t love yourself, why should anyone else?

When your beliefs about yourself translate into your actions and reactions, people will pick up on those vibrations and they might unconsciously start taking you for granted. You may be so caught up in striving to seek their validation that you might not even realise that you’re letting that happen – that you teach people how to take you for granted. You don’t see that, unconscious or not, if anyone can do that to you, they clearly don’t love you the way they should.

Self-love brings with it the knowledge that you don’t have to be anyone else. You will experience a special sort of liberation when you know you can be yourself and if people judge you for it, it just means they’re not the right people for you. Regardless of who you’re dealing with, you will know that you deserve to be accepted for who you are. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what your occupation is or what your favourite ice-cream flavour is. If you love yourself enough, you will know that, as the famous quote goes, ‘’those who mind don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.” As painful as it is, you’ll love yourself enough to put an end to your suffering and walk away from anyone who consistently puts you down or takes you for granted, even if they claim to love you. It might be more bitter than sweet but you’ll know it’s for the best. You will be happy.

3. You will love – truly, madly, deeply.

When you throw out your toxic relationships and insecurities, you will see that there are people who really do love you just the way you are.

The best part about self-love is that it isn’t selfish. When there is complete self-acceptance, you begin to understand the kind of happiness one can derive from acceptance. And so, you will want to accept those around you for who they are. You will do your best to treasure and maintain the relationships you have. Even if you have disagreements or different ideas of how to live life, you’ll be able to maintain the quality of your relationships. Self-love brings with it a natural desire to understand and appreciate the feelings and experiences of those around you. Now that you love yourself, you don’t have to worry about rejection or your bruised ego. You can put yourself aside to truly revel in the happiness and wade through the sadness of others with them. And when you fall in love, you will be ready to jump in knowing that you have the strength to risk heartbreak for happiness as well as the strength to rebuild yourself in case the risk doesn’t pay off. No matter what, you know. You will be happy

4. You won’t take everything personally

While learning to love yourself, you will confront the worst parts of yourself and you will forgive yourself, as hard as it may be, for being broken inside. From then on, when people point out your flaws, you won’t feel excessively judged or hurt because well, you know that it’s a chance to grow. You’ll know that to err is human. Instead of taking things too personally, you’ll recognise that some people don’t actually mean to hurt you. Before jumping the gun by making assumptions or losing your temper, you will see why they said what they said. You will learn how to agree to disagree. You will learn how to let arguments go – not because you’re weak but because you love yourself enough to see that some arguments are just not worth it.

When you do fly off the handle, you would have learnt to take that as a sign that there’s something you feel uncomfortable about. And you would have learnt how to search your instincts to figure out what you’re truly angry about.

And when you do make a mistake, you would have gained enough insight to apologise for it. In the struggle that comes with learning to love yourself, you would have taught yourself that the true shame lies in not facing up to mistakes in the first place. So, you will never feel shame in admitting to them. You will be happy.

What are you waiting for?

So you see, once you love yourself, you will push yourself to eliminate the bad stuff, keep the good stuff and work towards dreams that you know will make you happy.

It takes time. It takes work. It takes a hell of a lot of willpower to wade through every feeling of self-loathing and low self-esteem to come out the other side totally, hopelessly in love with yourself. But you can. And you MUST. Not for anyone else. But for yourself.

Oscar Wilde once said that “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” And he was right. Technically, you’re the only one who’s definitely going to be with you for the rest of your life. So why choose to be unhappy when you can choose to love yourself? Stop running. Look inwards. Dig up all the self-hate. Turn it all into love.

You will be happy.