How To Love Yourself
Sutton Full Potential Founder
A big part of self-discovery is learning to love yourself. It is also one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world of spirituality and healing. You may think that you love yourself because you buy yourself good clothes or eat good food, but self-love goes way beyond that. In this article, we will explore the deeper meaning of ‘how to love yourself’ and the tools that can help you achieve acceptance of your true self.
It has been observed that when someone starts loving themselves more every day, their lives seem to get better. This is because the person FEELS better and has the will to pursue their dreams, whether it’s a job or traveling to a new destination. They also notice an improvement in their relationships and a gradual drifting away from the toxic and negative people in their lives.
What does it really mean to love oneself? We’ve heard this statement so many times, and yet most of us are unaware of its true meaning.
You might agree that in most cases, it is easier to offer love to others than to ourselves. In fact, there are people who can be really mean to themselves and be their own worst critic. This can lead to self-mutilation, unhealthy relationships and use of toxic substances to get temporary relief from stress and anxiety. Psychologists suggest that a lot of people find it normal to stay focused on their perceived inadequacies.
Whatever the reason for poor self-love may be, there is always the time and opportunity to begin treating yourself better. You could start to give yourself the love and care you deserve right away! Importantly, self-love does not equate to being selfish. In fact, it is a way to showcase how you want to be loved by others.
Let’s begin with five simple and basic tools to kick-start our journey of self-love.
1. Get to know yourself
The most important first step in learning to love yourself is to know and understand your true self. Invest some time in thinking about your beliefs, likes, dislikes and values.
2. Learn to say “No”
One of the critical aspects of self-love is the setting of boundaries. If you’re wondering why boundaries are important, it is to let other people know you expect AND deserve respect. Saying ‘yes’ to everything may make you a people pleaser, but it is far off from self-love and care.
3. Stop all comparisons
Those who lack self-love often believe that others are better than them or have something which they don’t. The fact is that everyone is just different. Your value lies in who you are, and when you accept yourself completely, there is nothing or no one to compare yourself to.
4. Try practicing ‘being present’
There are enough distractions in our lives. While several of them might be worth our time and even exciting, others can be extremely draining. The distractions that keep us trapped in a negative space don’t allow us to truly know and be ourselves.
5. Acknowledge your strengths and make use of them
Everyone is gifted with both strengths and weaknesses. However, when you’re constantly distracted and busy, you don’t spend enough time noticing your great qualities. A good step towards learning self-love is to focus on your calibre and strengths as this will help boost positive feelings inside you.
Importance of self-love
Before we get into a detailed discussion on ‘how to love yourself,’ let’s try and understand why self-love is so important. It is among the best gifts you could give to yourself.
Studies suggest that when you love yourself, you notice an increase in your self-worth and self-confidence. Also, there is a general air of positivity around you, one that you would not feel in the absence of self-love. It’s a guiding light that protects you from your own harsh words and behaviours as well as those of others. Many people also feel that it’s easier for them to find someone they can love once they have learned the art of self-love.
It is critical to make gradual progress in learning self-love because it will take you to a much happier and peaceful place. This is a place where you can accept and nurture your ‘whole’ self, not just parts of it. Self-love is also one of the easiest tools to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of you and your actions. This is because you approve of your own self, and do not seek validation for anything from others.
Although we’ve already mentioned some key tools to achieving self-love, there are many other ways in which you can make yourself feel positive and worthy. These include the following:
Forgiving yourself for past mistakes
Reflecting on past mistakes is one of the best ways to forgive yourself and move past them. It might be hard to recollect some poor decisions you might have made, but forgiveness is key to letting go and allowing for better things to come your way. The lesson here is to love yourself despite all the mistakes you’ve made as they don’t define who you are. Your self-worth is not dependent on a bad choice or decision from the past.
Start maintaining a journal
Writing down your feelings and thoughts on a daily basis can be a very helpful exercise in self-love. This will allow you to revisit earlier dates and notice how you were able to cope with some difficult circumstances. Writing in a journal will also enable you to rid yourself off of negative feelings and experiences and help you focus on good things in the present.
List down your accomplishments
We’ve all achieved something or the other in our lives-big or small. Writing these accomplishments in a diary could be a way to love yourself. You’ll end up feeling positive and good about who you are and what you have managed to achieve so far. It is very easy to keep dwelling on the negative things in your lives and ignore the positive stuff. So, jotting down your accomplishments will remind you that you have potential to do lots more and that you can be proud of your journey.
Make solo travel plans
This might sound completely bizarre and uncomfortable, but it is a brilliant thing to do when you’re trying to learn to love yourself. Traveling alone can be an eye-opener for many, especially those who lack self-love. You learn so many things about yourself while exploring a different culture. It is a completely wholesome experience, one that will help remove you from your routine life and challenge you in different ways.
Take breaks more often
Take out at least 30 minutes from your routine on a daily basis to relax and unwind completely. Tell yourself you deserve to feel calm and serene, even if there are things that need to be done. It is extremely important to cut off from all the chaos that surrounds you and give yourself care and love in the form of short breaks. During these intervals, you could decide to read a book, meditate or simply take a long warm bath. Meditating is considered to be one of the best ways to unwind and relax your mind.
More on boundaries
Learning to love yourself is not something that happens overnight. The pace of the process may be different for different people. To kick-start your journey in self-love, you could list down some of your basic emotional needs. These are essentially things critical to your well-being, and may hurt or upset your feelings when violated or ignored. Examples may include being heard, receiving compassion and empathy when you’re dealing with tough circumstances, being celebrated if you achieve something. It could also mean receiving unconditional love and support from your loved ones, being taken care of, and so on.
Always remember, if something feels important or paramount in your life, then it is exactly that. And if somebody ignores that or crosses the line, you’re bound to feel hurt. When you’ve developed the guard of self-love, you will not ignore that, your feelings will help you identify the difference between right and wrong.
When practicing self-love, it’s your responsibility to let others know your boundaries and that you won’t tolerate their violation in any way. If you receive an apology, go ahead and forgive the person. If not, you can choose how you want to or don’t want to continue a close relationship with them.
How to be YOU
One of the foremost things to keep in mind when trying to inculcate self-love is to identify what makes you happy or feel good. You need to make a conscious effort to be aware of your feelings when you’re doing your daily chores/activities. Is work making you feel tired? Does gardening uplift your spirits? Does reading stories and poems to your children make your day more satisfying? Do you like doing volunteering work?
These are all examples of situations when you’re bound to feel some sort of emotion, positive or negative. If something makes you happy, content or calm, do it more often. Give yourself the permission to feel these beautiful feelings. The idea is to do more of those things that you love doing. You might need to eliminate some other activities from your life to make room for these ‘feel good’ things, and that is completely okay. In fact, it is a good thing!
Also, make sure that you’re spending some time alone. You could try and schedule some ‘me time’ each weekend and do something to recharge, like going for a swim or visiting the theatre.
Give yourself the care that you give others
Sounds simple, right? However, it might be one of the most difficult things to do for some people. They simply can’t get themselves to self-care or nurture because they associate it with being selfish or self-centred. Or they might not consider themselves to be as important as others. This is what ignoring your needs looks like. The fact is that ‘selfish’ is a very misunderstood word and it isn’t wrong to care for yourself. When you offer yourself compassion, you’re basically showing concern and importance for your feelings. These are positive signals for your body, and help you care better for others as well. You may have heard it several times, but it is true, you need to give yourself the same treatment as you would give to your best friend, parents or children. Be gentle with yourself, care for yourself and let yourself know you matter.