Can you believe that it is already the end of February 2021? Didn’t we start the year yesterday? I sure do think so. Anyways the entire month of February we talked about self-love, a topic very near and dear to my heart. During all my research there was one question that kept popping up in my mind: Can self-love be taught?? I can’t help but wonder when embarking on a journey of learning to love yourself are you teaching yourself something new or unlearning something old? Let’s discuss.
Learning To Love Yourself For The First Time
I started actively and willingly learning how to love myself all the way back in 2016. I can hardly believe that is now almost 5 years ago! Time really does fly! Yes for those of you wondering whether I am still obsessed with time the answer is a resounding yes even when it comes to learning to love yourself. When I think about how much time it took me to finally truly love myself and how I learned to love myself something peculiar presents itself.
Recommended: Obsessed with time and all that it represents
I realized that I had a lot of unlearning to do. Unlearning in terms of what was good and bad about me. This went way beyond unlearning bad habits. It had to do with my personality traits, things I loved and hated, activities I wanted to undertake, thought patterns and basically everything else you can read on the site (If you are wondering how I did it, I explain it all in my eBook ” Starter Steps To Creating A Life Story You Love”.). This leaves me to wonder two things:
- When teaching yourself to love yourself are you simply unlearning things?
- When learning to love yourself for the first time is it significantly harder the more time that has passed?
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When teaching yourself to love yourself are you simply unlearning things?
Based on what you read above it shouldn’t surprise you that I think yes. It also shouldn’t surprise you that I am not in complete agreement with myself. I am not in complete agreement with myself because for me it was a case of unlearning but for you it might not be. It could be just about learning how to love yourself from the start or you could be learning to love yourself again after drastic changes that happened beyond your control.
Also what needs to be unlearned is greatly tied to what self-love means to you. Yes, there is a universal definition of self-love but the way it is applied in practice is very different. What you need to unlearn is also completely intertwined with what it is you learned in the first place. Your mindset, your reference frame, your belief systems all play a part in whether you love yourself and how you love yourself. To make matters more complicated all those things are fully, partially or not in your control.
All of this greatly highlights one of the factors of why learning to love yourself is so hard. Am I naive to think that when learning to love yourself the best option here would be to thread in the middle? Thus say that when one is learning to themselves unlearning is always a part of it simply because nobody is a completely blank canvas when already consciously aware of themselves?
In a purely developmental psychological sense this would be absolutely true. As there exists a psychological theory of people being a blank canvas, Tabula rasa, when they are born that ‘’gets painted’’ on by all of life’s aspects.
When learning to love yourself for the first time; is it significantly harder the more time that has passed?
When thinking about the concept of Tabula Rasa it raises the question: can you really go back to it, if you ever had it? If yes it would immediately make the question above obsolete. However in this case I don’t think it is possible and if it is it’ll be extremely hard. People naturally create habits, thought patterns and customs. It literally is the only way we learn how to survive. Have you never told a toddler to not just cross the street without looking first? Of course I need to be fair and say that not crossing the street is a far stretch from self-love practices. However this is only on the surface the case as not crossing the street without looking contributes to you actively trying to protect yourself from potential permanent harm, which can be categorized as self-love.
I’m going wildy of topic. The point at hand here is the fact that the more we do things the more they get consolidated in our being. Thus I can’t help but wonder would learning to love yourself be harder when you are older or does that play no role? I could imagine it playing a role but somewhere I also can’t as the consolidation also depends on how often something is done. Also would everything we do in learning to love ourselves be new? As some of the things we do might already be able to be categorized as self-love practices without us realizing it. See the example given above.
Can Self-Love Be Taught?
The main question I have been wondering about all month. I would say yes self-love can be taught, but the process is so unique I wouldn’t know how to say yes without any side notes attached to it. I’m not going to bother you with all of them but I do want to highlight the most important one as it pertains to our generation, all the ones before us and all the ones to come. I can’t help but wonder have we been taught to love ourselves ever?
Purely judging myself here, I taught myself how to love myself with flaws and all. I was taught by society and my environment how to take care of myself. I don’t mean take care as in just the practical things but more in the line of not hurting yourself on purpose, going to the doctor when needing to, sleeping when tired etc. etc.. I think you get the point. All those things I would personally categorize under self-care and to an extent self-love but even then there are a lot of questions to answer first.
Also something that is pretty specific but I was taught to accept myself for the things I cannot change about myself, by this I mean the color of my skin🙋🏽. Before I continue I never ever wanted to change the color of my skin, however it has made me feel a lot of ways due to facing discrimination and bullying for it in my younger years. This made me have to come to terms with people’s feelings about it, but more importantly learning to be happy with the color of my skin exactly as it is.
This was something I had to learn, as prior to never having socialized with people believing there was something wrong with it, it had not been an issue. Did I there learn something new or was something just brought to my attention that made me learn something that was already there? If that was the case I had already learned to love myself in a latent way. I can’t help but wonder neither about that nor another question: Could it, in the event of us teaching ourselves to love ourselves, be because of a particular event highlighting it?
I wonder if we were taught to love ourselves in a latent way wouldn’t this at some point hopefully be triggered? On a side note there have been many times where I would see the quote that says something along the lines of ‘’when counting the people you love don’t forget to include yourself’’ resurge in popularity which really makes me believe that we are not taught to love ourselves right of the bat.
When looking at google trends from 2004 till today (28-2-2021) you can see that self-love has been gaining and losing traction pretty steadily (full disclosure: google trends can only go back as far as 1/1/2004). The trend really took off in January 2020, which I truly believe has a lot to do with the pandemic but that is just an opinion which I have not verified by research. Of course we have to take into account factors such as internet availability and also the possibility that people back then did not look for their self-love tips online but in books which all can skew the data. This even more makes me wonder when exactly we are taught to love ourselves beyond doing it ourselves as fully conscious beings.
When learning to love ourselves are we accessing something latently present or teaching ourselves something completely new, I can’t help wonder.
Find our more about self-love↴
1. What is Self-love; Unpacking The Popular Concept
2. Easy Self-Love Treats To Treat Yourself With
3. Self-love vs. Self-care; Key Differences You Need To Know
4. Toxic Self-Love Practices You Need To Stop Immediately
5. Learning To Love Yourself: Can Self-Love Be Taught?
6. How To Start Your Own Self-Love Journey (+ Free Workbook To Get You Started)
7. How To Start Loving Yourself Video Series
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