The funny thing about my self-love journey is that I didn't grasp what it meant to love myself until I DECIDED to do it.

It never occurred to me just how powerful our thoughts and decisions are until last year. I think that the idea never fully registered within me and I moseyed along until it was beyond clear that I needed to pay attention. The lessons that I found myself avoiding or relearning, due to being hard-headed and stubborn, piled up until I had no choice but to pay attention in order to move forward. I have a confession to make and let me tell you, when I realized what I'd been doing, it rocked my entire being.

Confession: I was purposely avoiding the painful parts of my past and bad habits by placing all of my focus on trying to be readily available to others. The more that I was "distracted" by being supportive of others, the more I didn't have to deal with myself, or so I thought.

I made a promise that I would be honest with myself because while the truth may not always look or feel good, it is necessary. When it came down to loving myself, I'd grown so used to being my worst critic that I was afraid of stepping outside of that. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be my own best friend and I knew that if I took ONE step towards recovering from being negative that it would hurt. It would mean that I'd have to take a look at why I was on the defense all of the time. I'd have to look past the thick layer of anger and realize that underneath it was an even thicker layer of confusion, sadness/depression and paranoia. I would have to ask for help and I didn't want to appear weak. I didn't want anyone to know just how much I was struggling to stay afloat but I was beginning to crack and had no choice. Somehow, something was pulling me off of the floor and when I decided that I was ready to stand up, I came undone. Actually, parts of my being unraveled and that is a lot painful than everything falling apart at the drop of a dime. This pain was gradual and because decided to stand up, I had to learn how to deal with it.

Now that I've managed to survive the most painful parts of my self-love journey, I've realized a very funny thing.

It doesn't matter if someone doesn't agree with how I choose to love myself. It doesn't mean that I love myself any less.

The conscious decision, the EVERY SINGLE DAY decision, to love myself has nothing to do with how anyone else feels that it should look or feel. It was, is and will always be an internal and intimate job. I've been blessed to come in contact with people who have helped guide me to the door of self-love but I had to turn the knob and walk into the room. I had to want this for myself and listen, I fought hard to grasp the meaning of self-love for me.

I cannot tell you how long it takes for each person to understand what it means to love themselves but I do know that it takes patience. There may be days where you feel like giving up but try to remember to be patient AND gentle with yourself. You are not in a competition with anyone to see who can love themselves first or better. This is about you and how YOU feel about yourself. Take as long as you need. Eventually you will begin to trust and enjoy the process. That is what I know.