A #wattpad4 chat a couple weeks ago was about self love and it stirred up a lot in me as I have struggled a lot with self love over the past couple of years (It’s definitely not pretty experience). So I figured it’s time to delve back into those waters as I do know a lot about the subject, it’s something I could teach for days on but I’ll restrict myself to this post, the chat, and another post on my other blog.
I often see self love romanticized and of all the things writers tend to romanticize, this one upsets me the most because it can make people who struggle with self love feel worse. It’s damaging and harmful to your audience, in this case I recommend you do valiant research if you don’t struggle with or understand self love.
Disclaimer: self love is different for every person, just as it will be for each of your characters. This is a brief post, as such I am brief in my descriptions and reasoning. I may expand at a later point.
Self Love Can Be Ugly
Self love isn’t just treating yourself to something nice every once in a while or telling yourself you look hot. Self love isn’t pretending you’re confident, telling yourself to get over something or giving yourself a pat on the back. Yes, those are some of the aspects of self love but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Self love is – to be straightforward -gross, disgusting and dirty; portray it as such.
Sometimes self love is accepting the fact that you feel like crap instead of pretending you’re ok. Sometimes self love is making yourself cry because you know you’ll feel better afterwards. Sometimes self love is locking yourself out of all of your social media so that you don’t have an anxiety attack over something as simple as the number of people you follow isn’t divisible by five.
‘I Need Self Love?’
Sometimes ‘oh, I might need love myself’ is not even on a character’s radar. Make the character realize they need to love themselves. Just because someone is confident in themselves does not mean they love themselves. Yes, confidence can come with self love but confidence does not equal self love. That’s for another post though.
Self love is especially important when your writing characters who struggle mentally because self love may not even be something they know how to do.
Why Self Love?
Your character’s mind is shaped by what it lets in; people’s words, actions, subconscious signals in stuff they see; as well as genetics. We live in a society that thrives on tearing others down with barbs and nails that just barely scratch us but over time those scratches build up, break the skin and become infected.
Self love is something we need to incorporate realistically into fiction so that those who struggle with it don’t feel alone and to inform those who think people who don’t understand.
What are your thoughts on self love? How do you incorporate self love?
Good questions/thoughts to ask your characters and the story:
- Why does your character believe in themselves now instead of before?
- What calms or character down or is stress relieving for your character?
- Does your character have a network of people they can trust or do they need to find one?
- What is your character’s prospective of themselves based off of? Their friends? Their family? Their religion? Social Media? The law?
- Why shouldn’t your character love themselves? Why should they?
- Why do other people love your character? Why do they hate them?
- Is self love something your character is familiar with?
- Boundaries are important to self love and love in general. Teach your characters about boundaries.
- Allow your character to have people help her/him, especially if they struggle with this, have other characters try and help.
- Look at all your character’s flaws (or their perfections) and ask yourself – ‘why wouldn’t they love themselves’…. try and write that in.