Is Self-Love Really the Opposite of Self-Harm?

December 14, 2020 Martyna Halas

So much is being said these days about self-love as the opposite of self-harm. We often read about practicing kindness towards our bodies, spoiling ourselves with nice things, or repeating positive affirmations. Even I said so in one of my articles. But the thing about loving ourselves is that it’s not an overnight process. It requires a lot of work, and sometimes it’s hard to love yourself if you don’t even like yourself. So is self-love the realistic opposite of self-harm?

Why I Disagree with Self-Love as the Opposite of Self-Harm

Self-love is definitely something we should aspire to. After all, love is a beautiful thing, and if you genuinely love yourself, you will be able to spread it and share it with others. However, sometimes the narrative behind self-love makes me a bit uncomfortable. It feels like an extra societal pressure that doesn’t always help.

Self-love comes more naturally to certain people, while others need to invest a lot of work to even start that journey. And yet, I see so many people preaching about how easy it is to love yourself. I’m told all I have to do is invest a few minutes of my time into that daily yoga practice, a bubble bath, or getting my nails done. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to reward yourself occasionally, but love can't be bought, and it doesn’t come easily.

Self-Love Is a Process

Imagine you’re in a relationship with someone moody, unstable, and emotional. You feel attached to that person, and you think there is potential, but you’re not really in love with that person yet. You do your best every day to please them, cook their favorite meals, and watch their favorite movies. Sometimes you laugh and have a wonderful time. Other times life feels absolutely miserable, and you question whether that person is the right partner for you.

The relationship I’m describing seems troublesome, right? And yet, that person is you. You’re doing your best to love yourself, but it’s a lot of work. We’re not the most comfortable people to be around. Sometimes you're giving yourself a tough time, you say nasty things to yourself, and you make yourself cry. But we’re all we’ve got, so we have to give it our best shot.

Like any relationship, love needs effort, and self-love is no different. We need a lot of perseverance to sustain this work, too, especially if we're prone to self-harm. Self-love is not a linear process like it is in fairytales. You can't just wake up one day and decide to stop hating yourself. But you can aspire for it and work for it. Sometimes the process itself is more important than the final destination. Therefore, to me, strength is the true opposite of self-harm.

Is self-love realistic? It can be but expect a lot of ups and downs while you're getting there. Don't beat yourself up if you’re not madly in love with yourself just yet. You’ll get there, one step at a time.

What do you think about the relationship between self-harm and self-love? Share your thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
Halas, M. (2020, December 14). Is Self-Love Really the Opposite of Self-Harm?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Martyna Halas

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