Jennifer Lopez On the Importance of Putting Herself First

The multihyphenate opened up about self care in a new interview.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez may be known for her romantic comedies and much-buzzed-about personal relationships, but the singer and actress also understands the importance of giving herself some love. She opened up about taking care of herself and practicing self love in her new Vogue cover story.

Suddenly a single mother to twin babies following her split from Marc Anthony, Lopez wasn't in the mentality of putting herself first, she recalled. "I just didn’t understand what it was to care for myself, to not put somebody else’s feelings and needs — and your need for them to love you — in front of taking care of yourself," she told the magazine. "You turn yourself into a pretzel for people and think that that’s a noble thing, to put yourself second. And it’s not," she explained. "Those patterns become deep patterns that you carry with you, and then at a certain point you go, Wait, this doesn’t feel good. Why am I never happy?"

Eventually, Lopez hit a breaking point and knew she needed to make a change. "And finally I was just like, Ugh! It’s time to figure me out because I need to be good for these babies," she said in the recent interview. "And even from there, with all the willingness I had, it took years and years to really put the pieces together, like, Oh, this thing I do because of this, that thing I do because that happened to me at this age.”

Lopez acknowledged the work she's had to do in order to put herself first. "I have to forgive myself for the things that I did that I’m not proud of, the choices that I made that worked against me," she told Vogue. "Self love is really about boundaries. Learning what you’re comfortable with and putting up the boundaries, not being afraid of the consequences. Knowing that in taking care of yourself, everything will turn out okay, that people will treat you the way you want to be treated and your life will feel good to you."

Lopez wasn't also good at creating those boundaries, she shared. "For a long time, I was just like, Yes, do whatever you want!" said Lopez. "I can take it, I’ll be here, because I’m really strong, and I’ll be fine. Little by little it chips away at your self worth, your self esteem, your soul." (Read more: Self Work Is Not About Trying to Be Perfect)

Now, Lopez is in a different place emotionally. She's newly married to Ben Affleck. Yes, she wanted to take his last name because "it's romantic," but it was also the right choice for her. "I’m very much in control of my own life and destiny and feel empowered as a woman and as a person," she said.

As far as she's come, Lopez still looks back fondly on the previous versions of herself — the person who Affleck once nicknamed "Little" due to the couple's noticeable height difference (he's nearly a foot taller than her). 

"You come out the other side, and you’re better, you’re stronger, you’re good on your own," said the 53-year-old. "But there’s a little piece of that former self that was totally open, innocent, and unafraid, that is gone. Sometimes I mourn that, because I’m such a romantic," she continued, adding, "And because I loved that person so much."

In true rom-com fashion, Lopez wouldn't change any aspect of her past if she had the opportunity because it brought her to where she is today. "My whole life, my whole music career was just about love: every movie I picked, every album I made," she told the magazine. "Even though I’m super proud of who I am today, and I wouldn’t change a fucking thing — and I can finally say that, as a human being, as a woman, as a partner, as a wife, as a coworker, as a mother and stepmom — there’s just that little piece where you feel like, That old me? She was sweet."

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