Reasons why I've fallen out of love with the motivational 'self-love' culture

Ellie James explains why she is losing her motivation in supporting motivational and self-love quotes on social media

Ellie James
24th May 2020
"It's OK not to be OK! You've got this, you are incredible and loved, and what is meant to be will be..."
Sound a LITTLE familiar? Mm, me too. I know I'm not the only one to scroll through my social media feed recently and find my eyes soaking up quotes in various fonts, wording and often captioning pretty backgrounds of a sunset or a candid image of a teen laughing whilst holding a flower. And as soon as you've liked just one of them, Instagram decides you need daily motivation from about a zillion accounts littering your explore page.

Don't get me wrong here, I am a sucker for a good quote. I'm not ashamed to say I follow a fair few incredibly talented poets and writers - I would worship Courtney Peppernell if I could. I always end up scrolling through a quote thread of some sort when I go on my phone, which I guess is a better habit than feeding myself with celebrity Instagram accounts.

BUT, I'm not sure if I want to be reassured so consistently all the time anymore. I find I have started to read the real stuff, the quotes that state reality rather than telling me it's OK to take a break right now, or that I should be patient and trust the process. Actually, maybe reading so many of these quotes has in some ways done more bad than good for me. I don't want to be told that I am 'doing great' when I know sometimes I simply am not. Or when a post tells you the 'bad times will pass', I can find myself getting riled up from reading all this positivity.

Maybe I want to curl up with a fat tub of ice cream and cry and believe the bad time is not passing any time soon. I might be wrong about a lot of people, but for myself just wallowing in my bad mood for a little while helps way more than being told it will pass. (In fact I'm the type to throw the nearest object at someone who tries to do that, I'll admit). It's a bit like when your mum tells you to clean your room when you were just about to do it. You just don't feel so much like doing it anymore, right?

Before you think I'm going nuts, hear me out. Maybe it's the pandemic and being stuck in my house with no idea when life will return 'normal' that has got to me. But as much as I'd love to believe every motivating quote I read during this time, being told by an unknown source that 'this is a sign' that I'm 'on the right path', makes me roll my eyes now.

For years I've read posts telling me everything happens for a reason or that letting go of control will bring you what you desire. And you know what it's done? It hasn't motivated me to chill and let go or brought me what I've desired, it's actually just caused me to hold onto hope in extremely unhealthy situations. I believe in things happening for a reason, but sometimes the hardest pill to swallow is that some things do not happen for a reason - they simply just happen.

I'm all here for the self-love culture that has gripped social media and influencers across the globe, but now it feels like actual pressure to 'love yourself for who you are.' We are conditioned to believe that liking how we look or accepting things you haven't achieved yet is as easy as clicking your fingers. Influencers tell us to 'Love yourself!' whilst sitting by a pool clutching a cocktail and wearing a teeny bikini - because they HAVE achieved almost everything they have wanted, isn't that why they are saying it? Even Missguided have jumped on the bandwagon of motivating self-love reminders recently - no offence Missguided, but I follow you to see what new clothes have been released, not for a therapy session each time I scroll down my feed.

Again, I'm not preaching that some of this self-love culture is all bad. In fact, it's incredibly important for young teens to be reading about accepting themselves as they become more aware of who they are. When I was 12, self-love culture was pretty much non-existent. There were 'Tumblr girls' who were stylish and skinny, influencers heavily edited their pictures and posted them without admitting to it, and magazines had only just started to be called out for changing the entire shape of a model's face and body. There wasn't much going round about taking what you see or read with a pinch of salt.

Perhaps I have simply grown up and learnt from real life lessons, making me dismiss these motivating quotes now. Or maybe this pandemic in particular has made me realise that knowing yourself and accepting yourself has nothing to do with sources outside of you. I've realised reading quotes for motivation, or self-love, or acceptance of situations does NOT solve anything. The only thing that will solve you, is yourself. Read all the motivational quotes you like, paste them on your walls, put them as your phone background, stick them on your mirror. But if you aren't paying attention to the quotes and words in your own mind, reading ones written by someone else won't change a thing until you decide to write your own.

Did I just write a motivational PARAGRAPH about not reading motivational quotes? Whoops.

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  1. I so much agree with you I assume and tired of all the "positive" aphorisms
    Shit happens!Deal with it.
    I suffer from mild depression and yes I wallow in it

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