Self-love has been a mostly uphill battle for me. Confidence wasn’t something that was instilled in me as a child. I reached adulthood feeling like a wallflower, the one no one ever really noticed. I began to seek validation of my self-worth through attention and attraction. I built my self-esteem on those shaky foundations.

Years later, after filing for divorce, I began to focus on self-love like I’d never done before. I’d gone from a lonely marriage to a lovely life on my own with my children. I asked myself what I wanted for my life, and I listened to the answers. I began creating the life I wanted, not accepting the life I had without question.

Self-love is a lifelong practice, not a one-time learning experience. For this reason, I’ve curated a guide to self-love for those whose foundations were never solid or have gotten shaky through time and trials.

Our Most Important Relationship

Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for every other kind of relationship we have. It’s the most important, and yet many of us neglect it entirely, trying to source love outside of ourselves as if we’ll only be worthy when someone else tells us we are. We build our self-worth on shaky foundations instead of understanding that we are all born worthy in the first place. We love others so much that we forget we need to love ourselves, too.

When we love ourselves, a few magical things happen that change the game. First of all, self-love encompasses a whole set of characteristics like confidence, feeling comfortable in our own skin, and full body positivity. We feel good about ourselves, and it shows. It’s in the way we dress and the way we walk. It lights up our smiles and shows up in our eye contact with others. It’s not subtle. It’s like wearing power lightly and feeling good in it.

I got tired of my own bullshit. I decided that I needed to find another way, one that wouldn’t include breaking my own heart again and again on people who could never love me back in the way I needed.

I got tired of giving all my love away and keeping none of it for myself. There was never any left over for me. And I wasn’t okay with that anymore. It turns out that I matter, too.

On Wellness, Health, and Body Image

Too often, we make fitness about a look rather than a life.

All the advertisements toward health and fitness aren’t aimed at wellness; they’re aimed at self-esteem. They want to sell us a product to make us feel better about ourselves, and they can’t do that if we already feel pretty damn good. They need to make us feel worse so that we’ll need the product they’re selling.

Feeling sexy isn’t about meeting someone else’s standard. It isn’t about whether or not anyone else feels like we’re looking hot. It’s all about inner confidence and feeling comfortable in our own skin. It’s about projecting an aura of self-possession. Frankly, it’s about going out into the world with no f*cks given because we are worthy of feeling good about our bodies.

Unapologetic and Unf*ckwithable

Their feelings don’t matter more than mine.

Realizing that was a real moment for me. It was a lightning bolt of truth that freed me from this people-pleasing attitude I’ve carried most of my life. If my feelings were as important as anyone else’s, I had the right and responsibility to speak up for myself, to protect my space, and to live my truth.

The unfuckwithable woman has risen because the scourge of single zombies, playing the dating game mindlessly and waiting to devour the next victim, to satiate their lust and boredom and self-loathing, has risen in record numbers.

When a plague is upon us, heroes rise.

The Practice and the Rest of Our Lives

I needed to figure out this whole self-love business so that I never, ever allowed anyone else to treat me like I wasn’t worthy of love, respect, or consideration. But more than that, I needed to figure out how to treat myself better to enrich the life I was living.

Quit waiting for the stars to align to enjoy your life.

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, and The Good Men Project. She’s also the author of Left on Main, the first book in the Heart of Madison series. When she’s not writing for Medium and working on her next book, you can find Crystal traveling, paddle boarding, running, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, doing yoga, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her two wild and wonderful children.


Image courtesy of Sandra Seitamaa.