Seeking Solace

(Self) love is in the air

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

To begin this exploration into the world of self-care and self-love, I think it’s pertinent to mention why it’s important.

I wonder why I should be working on myself when everything is falling apart around me. I wonder why I should take time I could be spending doing homework to check in with myself and figure out what’s really bothering me.

For me, these questions are easily answered with one simple phrase: The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. Especially with Valentine’s Day coming up, relationships seem to be the hot topic of discussion.

People talk about cultivating platonic and romantic relationships all of the time, but it is rare that the conversation turns inward. I know I typically don’t think about having a relationship with myself. But it’s true, the one person that’s always there is oneself. Crazy, right?

I want to focus on the nature of the relationship that I have with myself. For years, my perception of myself has been muddied by the opinions of others. I allowed my self-image to be wholly dependent on the way that others treated me. This was problematic for many reasons, some of which I’m still grappling with today and can’t quite name.

The worst thing that came out of this tendency was the internalized belief that I was never going to be enough. Yikes.

When beginning the journey to a non-toxic relationship with myself, I wanted to find the root of the problems. All of this would be so much simpler to solve if it was caused by definite catalysts, but unfortunately, that’s not what I uncovered.

These negative thoughts and feelings I have toward myself are deeply rooted, stemming from years of insecurity and self-deprecation. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve apologized for something small and added the token “I’m the worst” or “I suck” after said apology. Not only has this tendency annoyed my friends to no end, it only aided my growing dissatisfaction with myself and with my life.

I couldn’t find a way out of the negativity because I kept diving deeper into that downward spiral. My increasingly bad relationship with myself, built up on frustration and antagonism, wasn’t going anywhere — not until I did something about it.

I read recently in a post from Happy Well and Fed that you should treat yourself as someone you love. This resonated with me in my current state because of the simplicity of the message. It made sense to me. After reading, I asked myself why I wouldn’t treat myself like I treat my close friends or family.

The relationships I fostered with the right people provided a model for the relationship I needed to have with myself.

I couldn’t keep tearing myself down and devaluing myself because of perceived failures. I decided to spend time focusing on how I could fix the brokenness that I saw in myself. I would construct the relationship I needed to have with myself from the foundations of my relationships with others.

Now, I realize that altering the relationship I have with myself wasn’t going to be finished with a few simple practices, but I view this as the start of something new. I could develop an appreciation for my life and for my role in others’ lives, and if all went to plan this could work to promote a more positive perception of myself.

I needed to begin treating myself like I treat those I love. I deserve to be happy just as much as they do.

It’s self-love season, folks. Can you feel it in the air?

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].