Ok so I promise this title isn’t as negative and awful as it seems, I have some explaining to do and hopefully, it’ll all make sense. When I say ‘self-love’ that doesn’t mean I’m about to start hating myself, it means I’m giving up on not reaching my goals.
5 years ago if you’d have googled self-love it would have been full of tips on mental wellbeing and self-psychology. Nowadays it’s all bubble baths and face masks. What I’ve found is that what starts off as self-love, like treating yourself to a coffee or skipping the gym that one time, actually breaks down your habits and your self-discipline. Suddenly ‘treating yourself’ started months ago and never truly stopped, and all you’re left with is an empty bank account, an embarrassingly large pile of ASOS returns and the inability to make it up the stairs to the Northern Line without being out of breath. What it’s doing? It’s telling your mind and body that staying in your comfort zone is ok. The repercussions? You’re not only not getting any closer to your goals, but you’re going in reverse and unlearning how to work towards them.
I feel like retailers don’t help because I get so many emails every week promoting this ‘treat yourself’ culture, even so far as to be selling t-shirts with “that’s why I have a credit card” written on them. This really doesn’t promote a very sensible or quite frankly safe attitude towards money. I’ve always been taught to save as much as I can and spend only what I can afford, and if you can’t buy something with your own money then it’s not truly yours and it’s always going to feel better to buy something you really want if you’ve worked hard and saved for it. Truly I don’t understand why making bad financial decisions and spending money you don’t have has been so glamorized. Those payday treats are one thing but if you consistently spend more than you earn all you’re doing is putting yourself in debt and convincing yourself you can afford a lifestyle that you can’t.
Self-love in my book should be about loving yourself enough to have that discipline that’ll help you reach your goals. If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, sitting on the sofa in the name of ‘self-love’ is not going to help you achieve that. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is never something you’re going to want to do at first, that’s a whole new level of self-discipline. If you push yourself to do it once, then you’re starting to build a habit and it’s going to get easier and easier to say yes to new things and take on bigger goals than you ever thought imaginable.
We’re just coddling ourselves by giving in every time, that little voice that says buy the dress/ order the takeaway/ choose the lift, these things – as well as everything else in life – is fine in moderation, but not if it’s going to stop you reaching your goals. Every time you give in you’re reinforcing a bad habit and after a while it doesn’t even feel like anything bad. It becomes “of course I can get an uber home, I do it all the time” forgetting that actually, it was a treat in the first place.
As you’ll know if you’ve ever read my blog before, I love a face mask and a bubble bath as much as the next person, but I don’t think that constitutes self-care. If you’re frazzled and exhausted, a face mask is not going to make that feel all better and sparkly new. The reason these things are considered self-care is because what you’re actually doing is taking time for yourself. The real act of ‘self-care’ is taking an evening away from whatever is causing you stress, to pause, reflect and to rest.
So let’s extend that ‘Treat yourself” mentality and call it “Treat yourself, well”, choosing the cheaper, healthier option isn’t boring if you look big picture. A balanced meal, not buying that super expensive ‘it’ dress and actually turning up to that spin class you keep paying for, is going to make you feel so much better than a face mask and an expensive takeaway. You’ll feel more productive, you’ll have less guilt and worry less about the things you should be doing.
This blog post wasn’t intended to be preachy or super negative, I started writing it on a notes page on my phone as a pep talk to myself, it spiraled into something blog length and I decided to post it. I’m a big believer in everything in moderation and regularly checking in on yourself and your habits, it can be easy to let things slip a few times, but show yourself some tough love and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.