I think the most common misconception is thinking about self-love as one thing. The concept of self-love has never come easy to me. I find myself confusing self-love and “treat yourself” more often than I’d like to admit. Bad day? I stop by my favorite store (sometimes for me it’s a Whole Foods trip) and splurge a little (or a lot). Grab sushi plus a bottle of cabernet for dinner - we’ve all been there. Treat yourself too often and end up with a bank account that makes you second guess your ability to pay for a pack of gum at the deli across the street...

Sometimes I think of self-love as pampering myself. There’s something so comforting about lighting some candles, putting on a face mask, getting in the bubble bath and reading a book or watching my favorite show on Netflix. I feel empowered when I wake up with my first alarm, go for a run or do some yoga and still have time to make a matcha latte before work. I feel accomplished when I can avoid the couch long enough to cook a delicious dinner for myself after a long day of work.

I’m starting to realize that there is another side of self-love that is equally (if not more) important and definitely more challenging.

Self-love is certainly about being kind to yourself, but it’s also giving yourself tough love when you need it. Whenever things get challenging I immediately attempt to coddle myself, which is not always what’s best for me. I have a tendency to withdraw socially, and it’s something I’m still continuing to work through. When things get stressful, my natural inclination is to internalize and make less plans with friends. I’m not saying that introverting is not important, especially as an only child I do value my alone time but I’ve found that whether I’m going through a break-up or miserable at my job, I’m much happier when I avoid the temptation to become one with the couch cushions, having to endlessly tell Netflix, “yes, I’m STILL watching” and go to that happy hour or have dinner with my best friend instead.

Self-love is picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, putting on a cute outfit and surrounding yourself with people who love you back.

Throughout the past few months, I’ve found myself in a state of change, which has been causing me to feel discomfort, fear, sadness, and anxiety. Whenever I face these types of emotions I look to grasp on to a source of comfort. Sometimes that’s a hug from mom. Sometimes I find myself holding on to things that are “comfortable” but no longer adding value to my life, which can be detrimental to my future.

I was in a yoga class trying to accomplish “crow pose.” Sensing my frustration, the teacher instructed me to bring my gaze forward. At first, I told her I was scared to look forward because it made me feel like I was going to fall. She explained that:  (1) it was okay if I fell because falling doesn’t mean failing; and (2) if I did decide to look forward I would immediately feel more balanced in the position.

UHM HELLO why do I not follow this advice in my everyday life?! Here I am looking backward at things that are never going to change. They failed me once, if I have love and respect for myself why the hell would I allow them to fail me again.

Self-love is actively living your life. It’s looking forward into the future making the decisions that are best for you. Self-love is not holding on to the past and hoping someone or something will change in the future. It’s not all bath bombs, face masks, and matcha lattes. Self-love is knowing you can do better. It’s listening to what your body needs. It’s standing up for what you believe in. It’s knowing your value and when to put your foot down. It’s NOT backsliding. It’s holding yourself accountable to let that shit go and move forward into the future.