First off, I know. You hear this ALL the time: "Love yourself before you love someone else," or "Practice self-love," or just about any phrase along those lines. The term "self-love" and the conversation topic, in general, is talked about so much that I think a lot of us overlook it, myself included.
A couple of years ago, I wasn't thrilled with how relationships in my life were unfolding, and I was always upset with myself for one thing or another. As I looked for different "solutions" for this recurring problem, the idea of self-love always proved to be the main "fix" for the majority of problems in life. I was SO annoyed because, obviously, I loved myself. I mean, who doesn't love themselves?
It wasn't until one day, entirely out of the blue, that I realized practicing the act of love for yourself is, surprisingly, pretty difficult. We all have family that we care about and friends that we adore, but I've found that no matter how many of these influential people pour love into us, it is impossible to receive it and reciprocate it if we don't love ourselves, first. This is where we tend to get confused. Self-love seems kind of selfish, right?
Well, think of it this way. When the safety procedure is presented on a flight, the flight attendant always instructs the parents to put on their own oxygen mask BEFORE putting an oxygen mask on their children. This is because, in the given situation, parents cannot tend to their children unless they have taken care of themselves first. Love is the same way. Before you can nurture a relationship with those around you, you must focus on your relationship with yourself.
A lack of self-love can stem from guilt, harsh criticism, or from just simply feeling unworthy. Before I say this, I think it's important to say that yes, you should always do your best. You should always strive to be the greatest version of yourself you can possibly be, but no, perfectionism is not achievable. You'll make mistakes, and every now and then things will fall apart, and it'll be your fault. Some days you won't feel attractive, and some days you just won't feel that important.
During these moments, and every other moment, it's important to remember to forgive yourself for the things you wish you could take back. Apologize to those who deserve it and mend relationships. Then move on. Those mistakes and the consequences that followed shaped you into a wiser and stronger person. Remember that constructive criticism is good, but that your best is all you can really do in this world. Remember that you are worthy. You are worthy of forgiveness, success, and happiness, but more than anything you're worthy of love.
If you learn to love yourself first, you'll be surprised how much love will open up to you.