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Self-love is free

The scent of wild frangipani or eucalyptus filling the room makes me feel good about myself, washing away negativities that I am definitely ignoring right now. Scented candles are pure happiness. Oh, they must be soy wax candles because who wants to breathe in harmful paraffin? And I deserve the best. They ARE exorbitantly expensive though, for a 100g of wax in a glass. BUT I am buying it for myself anyway because I love myself and I should treat myself right like this. Let’s try a new scent next time, maybe lemongrass for a change. Let’s add that to cart now. Teehee.

We might find that train of thought relatable at some point in our lives, all in the name of self-love.

Self-love is an inconspicuous driver of consumerism. Consumer brands advertising has steered self-love away from introspection and towards reflexive spending. We have been conditioned to “consume” to feel good about ourselves. “Add to cart” is almost orgasmic while driving around in your third cabriolet strokes your ego. It could be anything else from clothes, gadgets, makeup or sneakers.

When used strategically by marketers and advertisers, self-love is a powerful tool to rake in revenues. It is so meticulously crafted that we might not even think twice as a consumer because we buy what makes us feel good and what makes us feel good is worth buying.

Pretty sure the term “self-love” was started and popularised in the media as well. Marketing campaigns and advertisements are constantly feeding on that void in people’s lives, probably that part in us that dislikes ourselves. Little did we know, self-love comes with a price tag.

Clinical psychologist Deborah Khoshaba said self-love, or love of self, is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth; it is not simply a state of feeling good. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness, not narcissistically or egotistically, and not settling for less than you deserve.

Maybe that’s why self-love, the term and the feeling, is being exploited by consumerism so easily because having what we deserve is the least we can do for ourselves. Our houses may be bigger but our inner temples are hollow, and that is supposed to be okay. How we love ourselves now revolves around mass production and consumption; an environment where we seek both emotional and social needs through shopping.

Retail therapy is on default, when in reality, we should probably go to a real therapy (and there is nothing wrong with that). But we still choose the former anyway, because that void is being filled every time we spend, no harm done until we run out of money.

In the end, no amount of luxury clothes or cabriolets can make you feel better about yourself; externalising self-love beats the purpose of calling it self-love.

Personally, I would say self-love is a state of indomitable sense of self that no external factors could or should devalue and diminish my worth; recognising the good, embracing the bad, and making sure each tomorrow holds a better me. The best part is I don’t need to spend a dime, just some time.

Don’t get me wrong. If buying scented candles because you love them and if they do make you feel good like washing away a day’s worth of tension to relax, then by all means buy a dozen. It is only when you depend on it to bring you this faux happiness, by seeking happiness outside yourself, that it could be harmful in the long run. Just like that cheap paraffin wax candle that you wisely refuse.

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