Growing up, I was obsessed with Disney movies. My 5-year-old eyes twinkled as I watched movies about the cliché fairy tales of damsels in distress and the princes who save them. The message that all of these stories conveyed were the same–once you find that special someone, everything else in life will go perfectly, including the love you have for yourself.

Then I grew up. I’d wake up some mornings finding it difficult to even glance at myself in the mirror without finding something to critique. My short hair, blemished face and my long nose were the immediate focus of my attention. It felt suffocating living life behind a facade of self-confidence.

I had this ingrained belief that I needed a relationship to define my path to happiness and identity, and if I didn’t have that relationship by a certain time frame, then I had missed the window for that fairy tale ending. In my mind, being in a relationship would provide me the self-validation I sought for. As a result of bad luck or simple mistakes in relationships, though, intrusive thoughts of feeling alone and self-hate began to build up, causing me to isolate from others.

Five Ways to Practice Self-Love

One day, I came to the realization that in order to be in any successful relationship, I had to start seeing myself in a more positive light. My mental and emotional health needed time to breathe, heal and connect. With this change of mindset, I started to create my own definition of love as time went on. Every day I would start my morning by realizing things I enjoyed about myself, even if it wasn’t with much confidence. 

I am currently enjoying my life, along with the relationship I am building with myself. I have come to the important realization that I don’t need someone else to fulfill every single need and expectation I have in life, because I can do that for myself. It took a few relationships along the way to help me realize that the commitment I really needed to be working on was the one with me before I could love anyone else.

Everything has its own timing, and there isn’t anything wrong with us if we don’t get there at the same time as another person. Everyone has their own journey, and you have yours. Do your soul a favor and appreciate yourself right now, because as you do, more love will come.

Do you consider self love important to a relationship?