The dictionary definition of self-love is: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Sometimes, due to outside pressures and our inner critics, we can mistake self-love for being something that’s completely selfish; Charisse Kenion spoke to Confidence Coach Tiwa Ogunlesi of Confident and Killing It, to find out exactly what self-love means, and how we can embrace it.
Charisse: What is self-love?
Tiwa: Firstly, it’s hard to define self-love without using the word love. The next thing that comes to mind is acceptance. An unwavering acceptance of who you are and what you’ve been through and your life journey – acceptance and forgiveness.
Charisse: How does lack of self-love show up in our lives?
Tiwa: Self-sabotage. I always say your thoughts lead to your feelings and your feelings lead to the actions that you take. So, if you don’t love and believe in yourself, you’re not thinking nice things about yourself. And so if you think terrible things about yourself, you feel terrible about yourself and then you do terrible things to yourself.
People with a lack of self-love don’t feel good about themselves, so they make bad decisions. You disqualify yourself from opportunities because you don’t think you’re good enough. It can also show up as Imposter Syndrome, where you begin to think you’re a fraud and you don’t think you have what it takes. You don’t speak up in situations, even when you know you want to say something.
Charisse: Self-love – how can we show it?
Tiwa: I think showing self-love is a mindset, where you believe that you are worthy and that you deserve to be here. You know that your voice matters, your life matters and your opinions matter.
You know that your worth doesn’t depend on how much money you have, what school you went to, what job you have, what car you drive or where you were born. We matter simply because we exist. So, if your self-love is intrinsic, when you show up in life, you don’t show up as someone who’s insecure and you don’t internalize negative things such as failure or people saying mean things.
Instead, you know that you are worthy and no-one or nothing can take your worth away from you.
Another way to show self-love is to be mindful of the way you talk to yourself. I speak to so many people about this; so many of us talk to ourselves in a way that we would never speak to our friends. When it comes to us fulfilling our dreams, we ask ourselves: ‘are we sure?’ – we always doubt ourselves, but we would never say to a friend, ‘I really don’t think you should do that’ – we would just never consider that.
Charisse: How does showing ourselves self-love help us in everyday life?
Tiwa: Love is everything. You have to love yourself before you can love others. I think a lot of toxic behaviour that we’re seeing in the world right now is because there are a lot of broken people walking around who haven’t done the internal work to heal themselves.
We have to do the internal work, so that we feel whole and know what we’re bringing into the world. When we master that, we’re not concerned about other people, other women, coming to take ‘our spot’. The only way someone is coming to take your spot is if you don’t believe that you are unique and irreplaceable and that you have something to offer the world.
When we become more secure in ourselves and when we love ourselves, we have better relationships with other people. And those relationships are so powerful because they’re the foundation of the world we live in. When we have healthier relationships the world thrives and our community thrives.
Also, this is especially important for the mothers amongst us; I think there is a generational cycle of low self-esteem in women. If you’re insecure as a mother, and you’re talking about your insecurities, your children pick up on everything you say and do. I remember when my mum was insecure about her thighs she would grab them in front of the mirror – and what did I do as a teenager? I did the exact same thing!
You’ve got to be aware; your children are looking at how you talk about yourself and how you treat yourself. I’m not saying be perfect – we all have our down days – but it’s important to show and express the love that you have for yourself because it gives others permission to do the same, and soon it becomes normal.
Find out more Tiwa at confidentandkillingit.com
By Charisse Kenion