Love, Actually

Written by Annabel Stewart

We’re obsessed with love. Romantic love, brotherly love, puppy love, unrequited love, crazy stupid love … and self-love. Self-love is a tricky one. Some people see it as vanity or self-absorption, others trivialise it as bubble baths and pedicures. What if it’s neither? What if it’s about accepting yourself, just as you are?

It’s so hard for many of us to accept that we might be ok, even if we’re not perfect. Perfectionism is rife, especially in today’s social-media-showreel world, but it can be argued that perfectionism is self-abuse.

It can be a pathway to anxiety, depression, procrastination, and low selfesteem.

Self-love, on the other hand, is about showing yourself some compassion, flaws and all.

We’re often not shown how to do that as we grow up, and as adults we frequently struggle with our harsh inner critic.

Many of the women I work with who are Grey Area Drinkers find it very hard to be kind to themselves.

Quite often they’re high achievers in many areas of their lives: they do well at work, they’re reliable and responsible, they support those around them as carers, nurturers, lovers … but they beat themselves up for never quite meeting the high standards they set themselves.

If you find yourself constantly falling short of your own ideals, and numbing your feelings with drinking, try a different approach.

  • Look at your life as a whole and acknowledge that different areas are all important: being a good friend, raising decent human beings and helping your community are just as important (if not more so) than getting kudos at work or looking like a super model.
  • If you find yourself using harsh words to yourself, be curious about where that’s coming from. Imagine how you’d talk to a friend in that situation and the words you’d use to them.
  • Practice being bad at stuff! Creative endeavours are great for this, sketching, painting, gardening … allow yourself to just play. Have a look for “wreck this journal” journals. They are freaky but good!
  • Give yourself permission to just show up as yourself, doing the best you can. Whatever that looks like. Realise that that will vary from day to day too. Some days you’ll smash it and amaze yourself and the world around you with your badassery. Some days you’ll just want to stay in bed and binge-watch Netflix. Both are fine, seriously.

Self-acceptance is the road to self-love, and with self-love you hold the keys to the universe.

How can you show some love for your perfectly imperfect self?