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The phrase self-love was unknown to me until a period I call the point of awakening in my life. Before that point, it mattered to me so much what people thought of me. I strived to make the people around me happy with me. Hoping that they could perhaps love me. I put people first before me.

They deserved everything and I wasn’t. The opportunities I gave up in life because someone else wanted them are countless. At the deepest point of my life, with family hit by my grandmother’s death by murder, unemployed with not a penny to my name, my first love dumping me on the day the total lockdown was imposed for her neighbor and nursing sickness from stress and anxiety I sank into depression.

Staying in my studio apartment and waking up every day only to have four walls of my bedroom look at me. Spend a full day by myself with no one to talk to.

I contemplated suicide. An angel within kept me hopeful and facing my negative mind. The more I faced my thoughts and inner conversations, the more I developed a desire to change what had habituated itself in my mind.

The loneliest and toughest time of my life made me discover the term self-love. Something that has changed a lot in my life and something forever grateful for. SELF LOVE

One morning, full of heartache, weak and disheartened, as I brushed my teeth, a thought hit me. ‘’Brian, what if you did all the things you do for people for yourself?’’ ‘’all the love you give to other people, what if you gave it to yourself?’’. That was my life-changing moment. I wrote down those two questions. I didn’t understand what they meant but something inside me was curious and suspicious of a probable deep meaning that they held.

Give yourself everything you deserve

My house was a mess. Everything was dirty.  The only clean thing in my house was me. That was because I fail to sleep without a shower and my teeth brushed. Yet only sleep could distract me from the reality of a heartbreak, empty wallet, and pain of losing a loved one. Not to forget the inability to seek human contact because of the lockdown.

That morning I looked at my house and realized how dirty and disorganized it was. I washed the dishes, took out the trash, mopped the house, and made my bed. There was a new life in the apartment that alleviated the pain in my heart.

For the first time, I switched on my phone and called a friend who had left a million voicemails. We talked and somehow, I managed to talk about what I was going through.

One of the terms she overused in the everyday calls that followed is ‘’SELF-LOVE’’. She had also fallen prey to a narcissist which left her with traumas. Her psychiatrist had guided her through the process of cultivating self-love and she paid the service forward to me.

Because of self-love, I have learned to love even more.

 Because of self-love, I have discovered things about myself that I could never know.

Because of self-love, I have let myself make mistakes to learn.

 Because of self-love, I have developed core self confidence and self-belief to become an author, news anchor, and corporate events emcee. Things I admired yet believed I couldn’t do.

Because of self-love I have made peace with my past, forgave myself where I went wrong and accepted my imperfect self.

Because of self-love, I go to bed knowing that I have a friend in me and that everything I desire is within me.

I can go all day to tell you about what self-love has done for me but this post isn’t about me.

What is self-love?

Self-love is a state of self-appreciation, self-awareness, and self-respect. Self-love is a state of being. It is not something you summon when you need it. It is having a high regard for your own wellbeing, doing something that supports your physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Self-love is paying attention to the conversations in your mind and the reactions you make to take action so you can harmonize them with what you desire to be.

  Here is the thing, take a piece of paper, write down all the things that you want God and other people to give you. Am certain you will not write, torture, hate, or reject. Your list is going to have things like peace, happiness, love, attention, approval, recognition, encouragement, money, etc.

Working out is a great way to give love to yourself.

Now look at your list and give those things to yourself. That is self-love. Does it mean so much to you when people tell you that you can or when you tell yourself that you can? The latter is self-love.

Yes, we all at some point need people to believe in us. Those people will not always be with us. There is a level of self-belief that self-love cultivates in you that makes you push forward even when there is no one cheering you.

When you make a mistake, how do you react to yourself? Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or sucker? Do you look for someone to blame so you can nurse your guilt? Or do you accept that you are an imperfect human, forgive, and hold yourself accountable to do better? The latter is self-love.

When people cross your boundaries, do you let them get away with it in fear of being rejected or hated? Or do you stand up for yourself? The latter is self-love.

Do not let anyone cross your boundaries. stand up to them.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you tell yourself that you are out of shape and not good looking or do you tell yourself that it is within your power to eat healthily and workout to get in shape?

When you do someone a favor or give them something, do you get mad when those people do not do the same for you? Do you give and expect something in return? When you give, do you do it and let everyone know?

The reason why people give and expect in return or do it and let everyone know is that there is a hollowness in their heart, an emptiness, and a craving for approval that they hope will be filled by praises from people perceiving them as givers.

They do not do it from the abundance of love in their heart. They do it from a place of emptiness and a desire for acceptance. With self-love, you are giving not because you expect in return or need approval, you do it because you have enough love in your heart that makes you want other people to feel what you feel. You are giving from a place of abundance.

Here is the thing we all have love within us. Love for our loved ones and love for ourselves. But for some reason, we disregard love for ourselves and choose to give it to others. The paternal and maternal love that can go to all corners of the world to show love to a son or daughter through providing protection and needs exists within us.

We are supposed to give it to ourselves too. It is very hard for the world to love us if we can’t love ourselves. Come to think of it, the opposite of self-love is self-hate. If you don’t have self-love, it is self-hate you have. The question is if you can’t love yourself, who will?

 How can you love yourself?

I know that is a question running in your mind right now. There is something called the ‘’inner man”. Your elan vital or soul. That soft speaking person in your mind that always talks to you.

As we grow old, we get influenced by external beliefs, social constructs, and prejudices which make us doubt the inner man and believe in things outside of us. The inner man is that person in you that tells you that you can be happy alone instead of staying in a toxic relationship.

It is that voice that you disregard and choose to stay with your abuser or narcissist because he or she has convinced you that you can’t amount to anything or live without them. 

Because society is so negative with a lot of people looking for something outside of them to believe in, we end up silencing the inner man within us to listen to people and influences outside of us that are clueless of who we really are.

The truth is no one knows you more than the inner man. In fact, some religions call him the God in us. The more attention you give to him or her the more you get to find and connect with yourself.

Pay attention to what your mind and heart say

 When you pay more attention to your inner man, he takes more space in your heart and mind. The soft voice becomes louder. That is how you develop an increase in clarity of who you are, what you can or can’t do, where your strength or weakness lays, what to give attention to, and that which you give less attention or even ignore.

  When you start listening to that voice, you will become more retrospective. You will understand your mind and body more. For the first time, you will be at peace with yourself.

When I started giving my inner man a bigger platform than the external voices, I started to discover things about me that I didn’t know. I enrolled for training in news broadcasting. With all the fear and nay sayings from people, the inner man told me to go for it. I was scared. I was nervous. I remember my first screen testing.

In front of all other trainees and trainers, I got a panic attack, lost words, and failed to compose myself. People laughed at me. In my mind, I was sure appearance the next day was as possible as jumping to touch the sky.

Awake at six, a soft inner voice said to me, dress up and show up to master the skill. I did. The rest is history. I am a news anchor. No one told me to try. Not even my family ever saw that in me. They were all surprised. My inner man showed me the way.

Your inner man is inseparable from you. He is as big as the attention you give him/her. He rises as you search within you to find him. When you make peace with him, you discover that everything you ever desire is within you. You will treasure yourself more.

You will learn that the first friend and best friend you will ever have forever is in you. You will enjoy more time with yourself. Your mind will be at peace with you.

The tranquility in your mind will spread to the environment outside of you. You will stop finding offense in small things. You will start finding the good in all situations. Yes, tough times will come your way, but your attitude will be strong knowing that your inner man has your back.

You will start eating healthy and exercising because you want your inner being to live in a fit and healthy body.

You will start to give your energy and attention to things that are within your best interest. Your personal boundaries will get stronger.

Yes, you will lose people on the way but know that those are the people who are not supposed to be in your life in the first place. Genuine and true friends will stay in your life. The users and manipulators will live because you will have ceased to be something they can use or manipulate.

You will become more self reliant and most of all you will learn how to be happy with yourself

How to connect with your inner man to cultivate self-love.

If you have to cultivate self-love you need to start giving to yourself. Where there is no giving, love doesn’t exist. Giving is the language of love. Even the Christian god had to GIVE his son to die for sinners to show them that he loves them. John 3:16 ‘’for God so loved the world that he gave up his only son Jesus to die for our sins’’.

So, giving is very important if you want to cultivate self-love. Giving is not only about money and material things. It can be in form of attention, care, encouragement, etc. Assume you are your own son or daughter and give yourself everything you would give your offspring like love, education, health care, moral support, etc.

1. Respect your boundaries.

If someone disrespected your child, am sure you would stand up to them or get your child away from them. You have personal boundaries that do not have to be crossed by anyone. You have personal values and beliefs that do not have to be devalued.

If someone transgresses them, stand up to them or walk away like you would do for your child. You do not have to let them get away with it because you fear offending them or being rejected. You will still be rejected anyway because the truth is genuine friends will respect your boundaries. By crossing them, it is another form of rejection.

2. It is okay to say ‘’NO’’.

You do not have to do things you are not comfortable with just to impress someone or people. If it’s not right in your heart then it’s not right. Many times, we end up breaking our own boundaries in fear of hurting others. Am not saying that you become a jerk.

No, there is a difference between being a jerk and being yourself. Jerks create malicious boundaries that hurt other people. For example, a jerk will refuse to get behind a queue because in his or her deluded mind thinks he has better things to do than other people. If your boundaries do not cause any harm to anyone, no one should cross them. Say no to anything or anyone that does not sit well with your soul.

It is okay to say ”NO” and walk away from situations and people that take away your peace

3. Learn to say ‘’YES’’.

A lot of times we are quick to reject great things because we feel not deserving. You deserve all the great things you admire. You deserve a great partner, you deserve a high-paying job, you deserve that beautiful dress or fancy suit, you deserve that car.

Feel deserving of everything your imagination brings. Do not say no to a good opportunity because you feel undeserving. My father told me that yes is the only answer to any opportunity that resonates with your heart’s desires. When I got the news broadcaster opportunity, despite my speech problems, low confidence, self sabotage and self-doubt, I said yes. Because like any other news anchor in the world, I am human.

4. You are imperfectly a human being.

Stop trying to make 100% of everything. You do not have to be perfect. You are a human being. You do not have to beat yourself up so hard because you failed somewhere. It is the essence of being human. Perfectionism is a disease of the mind. Imperfection is self-acceptance and self-awareness.

5. Celebrate yourself.

Every day you achieve many goals. Big and small goals. Learn to celebrate your victories. You were not where you are today. You will not be where you are tomorrow. Accept that your effort has paid off and celebrate yourself. Do not wait for people to celebrate you.

People only celebrate big archivers whose true experience they do not know of. You finished that assignment, take a glass of wine. You run that 10km, jump in celebration at the finish line. Celebrating yourself cultivates self-belief. The mix of victorious emotions alerts your subconscious mind that you are an archiver which in turn motivates you to do other greater things.

6. Embrace your strengths and weakness.

We are all good at something and bad at another. No one is perfect. We were not all created equal. That is the reality of life. The faster we accept, the more peace we get. We are all not as tall as LeBron James. We are all not as smart as Bill Gates. We may not all look as good as models.

If we were all equal in this world, we would all be everything. You would play basketball in the NBA then travel to play soccer in the English premier league and retire on heavy returns from crushing the stock market. But that’s unrealistic.

We are all naturally inclined to something that we can be so good at. Some have discovered it already. Others are still searching for that thing. We have a lot of resources within us. If you dig so deep within you, you will discover everything you ever wanted in this world, God gave you.

You are perfectly imperfect. The actor and actress you admire are battling inner battles also. My favorite actor is will smith. To me, he seemed like a God. Wholly perfect with everything in the world. But when I read his book ‘’WILL’’, his life was not as perfect as I thought. Despite his great acting skills and humor, he struggled with relationships just like me or any other imperfect person.

The house is not always as beautiful or peaceful as it appears most times. Learn to accept your imperfections so you can raise your perfections.

 6. Start being accountable.

No one is coming to save you from yourself. Only you can. The things happening in your life reflect your past decisions. You are out of shape because you neglect exercise and healthy meals. You are broke because you didn’t put in the effort. You are not loved genuinely because you didn’t give genuine love. Learn to hold yourself accountable. Do not try to find a reason to excuse your actions. You are in charge of everything happening in your life by how you respond or react to it.

7. Forgive yourself and those that hurt you.

You are a human being. You make mistakes and go wrong sometimes. Don’t be so hard on yourself where you fall short. Accept your mistakes and make peace with them. That way you create space in your mind to focus on being better.

When broadcasting news, sometimes I would stammer in one story and that would affect the next story. Then I would stammer in all stories. When I learned to forgive myself and make peace with my mistakes, I noticed that I would easily give up the disappointment of stammering on-air and forgive myself automatically as soon as I did it. The following stories would not be affected. With time, I stopped stammering.

Forgive those that hurt you. Forgiveness clears your mind of anger and all negative emotions. Hate and bitterness affect the mind that holds them. We have no control over what other people do but we have control of how we react to it. Forgive and let go. Not for them but for your peace of mind.

Self-love vs narcissism

When you say you love yourself, people that do not understand what self-love is will call you egoistic, proud, or even full of vanity. Realistically they are describing a narcissist. Narcissists make it a point to shout about how they love themselves. Somehow, they hijacked the term self-love to hide the self-hate within them.

Self-love is far different from narcissism. Narcissism is excessive love for one’s image of what he or she wants other people to perceive. The difference here is that a narcissist is excessively in love with what he or she wants other people to think of him or her.

Self-love is the polar opposite. It is love for the image of the kind of person you want to perceive yourself to be. As the narcissist tries to fake an image that people can see on the outside. A person with self-love looks within to see what is inside of them to become what they want to be.

Narcissists look for themselves outside or without. A self-loving person looks within to find themselves.

A self-loving person finds love and fuel within themselves whereas narcissists thrive on attention and fuel from people. Without approval and attention (fuel) they are at war with themselves. The self-loving person is at peace with himself with or without approval or attention from people.

Narcissism is self-hate wrapped in a self-love package. Narcissists hate what is inside of them so they fall in love with an image that can hide the darkness inside.

Narcissists pedestalize themselves to show people how big they are. Self-loving people uplift others.

A self-loving person is accountable for everything happening in his or her life. For the narcissist, they believe they are perfect and it is always someone’s blame.

Self-loving people have empathy. The narcissist cannot recognize what other people feel. They will come to stand in front of you in a queue without being sorry for it at all.

Conclusion.

It might sound cliché but it is true. No one can love you if you can’t love yourself. Naturally, you will attract what is inside of you. If you want to have so much to give. If you want to find sustainable happiness. If you want to be able to love from a place of abundance of love. Love yourself first. Not from outside of you as a narcissist does, but from within you. Confront your inner man and water him to rise up.