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When you have the opportunity to love yourself and the next person with an intensity that is difficult to explain you glow. For love is like a light that sets fire to the soul, shedding light on your darkest fears, chasing away the demons that keep you awake. For love acts as a lifeguard, saving you even when you think you don’t need saving.

While some say it is easy to love oneself, many find this extremely difficult. Some even think it impossible. The thing about love is that is that it forces you to address issues you have left unattended, it forces the real you to wrestle with the you that is based on the lies and insecurities that you have fed on for years. In recent days I have been fighting with myself, fighting for the freedom to love myself with the same intensity I love others.It was during this time that I found that like the five stages of grief, there are five stages of self-love.

1. Denial of your true nature

“I’m not this person. I am smarter, taller, sexier…” you tell yourself. The image you see in the mirror is surely an illusion. Your mind has convinced your spirit that it is trapped in an inferior shell of a body. You dismiss your own emotions as you see your sadness, uncertainty and pain as insignificant and silly. Walls are built and strength claimed to deny yourself access to your true self.

2. The only emotion is anger

The walls built never last very long. Soon the past begins to eat away at the “protection” that surrounded you and the only thing that will be before you is your true nature. Your true self seems to appear as a monster that should be slayed by all means possible. This is the most dangerous stage of the process because you begin to actively break yourself down. You begin to discourage and belittle yourself in ways that you wouldn’t dream doing to another. Your anger, like an earthquake, creates cracks in any self-esteem you still possessed, breaking down all hope and belief that you deserve love that is unconditional and unquestionable.

3. Lets barter

As the anger begins to simmer down you are left with fear. The idea that this nerdy kid with arms as long as her legs is truly you. You are afraid at the thought that you are inherently sensitive to the words of others, love lazy days more than work, that you think cats can never compare to dogs, and that the desert is better than the beach. You begin praying to God. You promise to be a better human being as long as He takes away your desire to love and be loved. You promise to donate to charity if he gives you a faster metabolism. And you pray and pray for God to take away all the “small” things about yourself that you don’t love, at every turn bribing Him with promises to be better and kinder.

4. The dark days have just begun

You will come to realise that the bargaining will go nowhere. It seems you are talking to yourself, as the person you hate still stands in front of you unchanged.You become discouraged, which soon turns into despair that sinks you into a deep depression. You allow life to go on without you, hoping that hiding yourself will spare the world of the ugly that is you. This is the phase that traps many people and claims many souls. When depressed you don’t dictate life, life dictates you. You allow anything and everything to happen to you. You accept heartbreak and pain, thinking if you don’t love yourself, no one else will. You continuously erode your self-esteem with self-hate and self-doubt, until there is nothing left.

5. Maybe this is me

It is always darkest before the dawn, and it is when one is most broken that growth can occur. The cracks in your defenses allow the light of love and hope to cast light in your soul, and thus grows your ability to love yourself in ways that you never thought possible. You begin to see yourself clearly. You will notice that your nose is actually cute and that your arms are not as long as you thought. The person in the mirror becomes radiant, as their soul is engulfed in love that was once foreign. You begin wanting to be the person in the mirror, but soon realise that you already are. The beauty of this realisation is that the world begins to reinforce this new found love that you have for yourself. You will notice that people who see you as wonderful, beautiful and smart begin to enter your life; continuously aiding in reinforcing your growing self-esteem, showing you that you are 100 times more than you think you are.

How you view yourself and how you love yourself magnifies how others view you and love you. In order to receive the best, know that you are the best version of you.

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Ros Limbo
mulemwa.limbo@gmail.com