Do you feel like you lack the capacity for self-love recently?
There’s something you share in common with every single other human on the planet, yet it’s something you likely never think about. You only spend time in your own head.
It doesn’t matter how close you get to someone else or how strong a connection you may feel; you’ll never truly understand what goes on between their ears—just as they never get to know every thought that takes place in yours. They can love and understand you and, in many ways, know you better than you know yourself. But they’ll never step inside the chaos that is your mind. Only you know that and accompany it every second of every day.
As such, you’re aware of your insecurities and fragilities. You intellectually know others go through something similar, but you do not know; you only experience what you do. It can leave you fragile, assuming you don’t know as much as others; that you’re not as good as them; healthy as them; as clued-in as them.
I sense it’s always been this way, although it’s more intense and frantic in today’s fast-paced world—as we’ll dive into soon. It makes the importance of self-love all the more critical. Yet practicing self-love (and actually believing it) is harder than ever. That’s a problem because it sends you deeper into the cycle of insecurity and doubt. You retreat within and go deeper into your own mind’s eye. It can be beautiful, spending time there. Yet it’s also a place that can quickly turn toxic.
So now more than ever, it’s essential to practice self-love daily.
You need proactive exercises to set you up for a day of beauty and growth and reactive ones to overcome obstacles that stand before you occasionally.
We’ll soon shine a light on a few of these exercises. But first, you must gather a greater appreciation as to why self love is so hard today. Once you do, you’ll likely find it much easier to give yourself a break and say, “I love you… I am enough… I am doing okay.”
7 Reasons Why You Struggle with Self Love
Do you love yourself?
If you’re like me and many I speak to, the answer is “yes, but…”
That word but sure is a tricky customer.
- I love and appreciate who I am, but I just wish I had done more.
- I know I’m good enough. But if only I knew a little more than I do.
- I am proud of myself, but I still have so much work.
If you can relate, know you’re not alone. You can simultaneously love yourself and feel pride while battling inner demons and crippling insecurities. To some extent, every person experiences this because every human spends every second of every day in their own head.
That alone makes it hard to practice self-love. When you compare it to a few other outside factors today’s fast-paced world bombards us with, it’s enough to turn good intentions of self-love into excuses and procrastinations of tomorrow.
1. Hustle Culture Detracts From Self-Love
Hustle culture is more ingrained than most think. Although it does center around long work days and side projects, it goes much deeper than this.
As a species, we’re more connected than ever. To each other, sure, but also a wealth of content, knowledge, opportunities, and so much more. With a swipe of the finger, you can access just about anything you desire. It doesn’t leave you much time to step back and reflect.
You have the time, of course. Yet the temptation to say yes to this and that is more prominent than it was for prior generations. It all creeps up on you: a quick check of your email, a little glance at social media, that short video you meant to watch, oh, and that podcast; that article; that book… it’s far too easy to lose track of time and waste precious moments.
Moments you could (likely should) spend reconnecting with you and your feelings.
The mere fact hustle culture is what it is makes practicing self-love difficult. You have the time to do it, but it’s in constant battle with everything you can access.
2. Comparison Culture
There’s a saying you no doubt know well… keeping up with the Jones’s.
Humans have always compared themselves to others, wishing they had what their neighbors did. The issue is, we no longer live in a world where you come across a couple dozen people each day. It’s no longer your neighbors, work colleagues, and the odd celebrity you see in a magazine or on the TV screen. Twenty seconds of scrolling through social media connect you with dozens of people living seemingly better lives than you.
Today, the Joneses’ are everywhere.
You experience micro-interactions with them throughout the day. Bit by bit, it dilutes you.
You see someone who seems happier than you and consciously or not compare your situation to theirs. You know you only see an edited version of their life, but that doesn’t matter when you’re caught up in your emotions—and when it comes to social media, you often turn to it during periods of worry or boredom.
When this happens day after day after day, it eats you alive. Even if you do find the time to practice self love, you don’t believe the words you say. All you can hear is that inner voice that does nothing but compare you to everyone else.
3. Social Media & The Online World Detract From Self-Love
It’s not just comparison culture that takes place on social media. As impressive as it can be—and let’s face it, it can be amazing, bringing you closer to people across the globe—these platforms are designed to capture, keep, and waste our attention.
This is true for most facets of the online world.
From algorithms to manipulative marketers, you place yourself at its mercy each time you log on. It’s tempting, full of exciting possibilities. Dopamine spikes occur one after the other. You can escape online; be anyone you want to be. But it warps your mind, offering you a false sense of reality and leaving you vulnerable. Again, much of it’s designed that way. These platforms want your attention. They need it. The only purpose it has is to consume you so you consume it.
And it works. How often have you scrolled down a never-ending rabbit hole of videos and memes? An hour has passed you by. Maybe two. You intended to go for a walk or write in your journal. Yet it’s so much easier to scroll.
4. Greater Access To Knowledge
For most of human history, people gained knowledge by listening to elders share stories. It was in-person, intimate, and innately slow. You learned by either doing the thing or having someone else teach you.
Then, in the 1400s, a guy named Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This brought us into the age of expanded awareness. For the first time, you could passively learn from other people without having to be in the same room as them. Yet it was still slow going because reading takes time. Likewise, printing books isn’t something anyone can do.
So knowledge, as a whole, remained centralized, hidden by certain gatekeepers.
That’s no longer the case. Today, you can access almost anything with a swipe of your finger. The world almost literally resides in your pocket, which is absolutely amazing. Yet there’s a dark side to this abundance of knowledge because the more you learn, the more you want to learn.
Likewise, the more you realize how little you know, understand, and appreciate.
It once again leads you to compare yourself to others and the person you could be: the one you wish you were, that individual in the future once you fulfill your potential.
As amazing as our access to knowledge, it makes practicing self-love difficult. There’s always the temptation to learn, progress, tap into new realms you didn’t know existed, and grow your mind, body, and spirit.
It leaves you struggling to feel worthy, always wishing you were further ahead.
5. Greater Connection To Everyone
With a single voice command, you can likely connect with anyone you know, no matter where they are. It’s a beautiful opportunity that’s easy to take for granted. Yet as with all these other amazing opportunities, they house shadows because the more connected you are to others, the less time you have to connect with yourself.
Phone calls. Texts. DMs. Voice notes. Tagging someone on social media… the temptation to reach out and say “hello” is forever there. Indeed, we feel guilty if we don’t message someone for a while. We worry we’re not a good friend or we aren’t putting enough effort into the relationship. Plus, when are enough friends actually enough? We have access to so many potential people and it’s easier than ever to find and connect with them…
Often, it leads us to fill other people’s cups at the expanse of our own.
6. Addictive Technology Depletes Self-Love
As mentioned, we use (and often rely upon) technology to capture and keep our attention. Specific algorithms exist solely to learn about us, so we spend more time on that app or platform. They are clever, too. They get to know us better than we know ourselves, understand precisely what it takes to make us feel, feeding us with spikes of dopamine that keep us coming back over and over and over.
A refresh of your inbox. Visiting certain apps on your phone in a particular order. Just a little scroll through your newsfeed that soon leads to ten minutes you’ll never get back…
There was a time we didn’t have access to such addictive tools. If we felt bored, we would go outside, do something creative, or think. In other words, we’d practice self-love. A dying art in today’s ever-evolving world.
7. Abundant Opportunity
This world we live in today is full of opportunities. There is so much we can do with our time. Life is literally at our feet and we worry what might happen if we don’t make the most of it.
But what is “it”?
It could be anything. Yet such an abundance of choice often leads to frequent hopping from one thought, idea, and action to the next. You scratch the surface instead of going a mile deep. You focus on all the things you could do rather than the aspects of life you already possess. It leaves you with a sense of longing, even if what you have brings joy.
It isn’t that this abundance of opportunity is bad. Far from it, it’s a blessing. Yet we cannot allow such possibility to distract us to the point we don’t allow ourselves to love ourselves.
Final Thoughts: How To Practice More Self-Love, More Often
Writing an article like this feels tricky because it’s easy to paint a gloomy picture of today’s fast-paced world. That isn’t my intention. This period is incredible, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. There is so much to look forward to, and I’m excited to see how society evolves and branches into new realms.
Yet I’m also aware of an opened box that will never be closed again.
This fast-paced world isn’t going anywhere. As time passes, we’ll only become more integrated with technology, and everything is set to get even noisier (as hard as that is to imagine). With it, practicing self-love will get more challenging. Yet doing so will become more and more essential.
So what can you do?
You can start with these two simple exercises designed to open a door in your mind. The first is a reactive exercise available whenever you need to slow down and take a step back … whereas the second is a more proactive, holistic step you should aim to take each day.
- Proactive Exercise: as Kamal Ravikant suggests in his book ‘Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It,’ spend a few minutes in front of the mirror, looking yourself in the eye and saying, “I love you … I am enough… I am worthy.”
- Reactive Exercise: take a walk each day with no agenda other than to allow your mind to unwind.
These two simple exercises help you draw a line in the sand. Committing to them means you look beyond the hustle and reclaim your time, freedom, and energy. It opens a door and, once open, frees you to experiment with other self-love practices.
It’s a wonderful rabbit hole to lose yourself in. Enjoy.