We’ve mentioned self-care in other blogs, yet it is so important that we will expand on it here to include self-love. What does it mean to love yourself or to practice self-love? Were you taught that this is a bad thing, that it is selfish, that you should instead be selfless? We should indeed aspire to show love to others but, in reality, the love and acceptance of self is one of the greatest requirements to happiness and long lasting relationships. When the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting another, it is for good reason. You simply cannot take care of (love) another if you cannot take care of (love) yourself primarily.
Research not only points to the benefits of self-love, but it also shows that self-criticism is comparable to self-sabotage. It actually hurts performance, productivity and well-being. Expressing as a people-pleaser, for example, may seem altruistic, but in reality, it’s a call for self-love. It is the needing/wanting of validation from others while ignoring the true value of yourself. It’s chasing after love that already lies within you. The truth is, you are wonderfully made, special, with a history and purpose unique to you. If you believe in your value and honor yourself, you need no other person(s) to shower you with praises. You know your worth.
Perspective is key. How you view your past can directly affect how you value self. Are you hard on yourself for the past experiences that you deem as mistakes? Perhaps mistakes should be redefined as ‘opportunities to learn and grow.’ After all, it is through our mistakes that we find personal growth, learning and meaning. Through mistakes we can determine what we want and don’t want, what we need and don’t need. It may be time to appreciate past ‘mistakes’ as a stepping stone to something greater. Be compassionate with yourself. You are in the process of evolving into something truly magnificent. Life is a process of learning and change. Embrace all that life brings your way. It has and will continue to make you who you are. In the meantime, guard your thoughts about self.
Start keeping track of judgmental thoughts you have about yourself and others. Write them in your journal, then rewrite them with a focus to create a positive counter-thought. Put those positive thoughts on sticky notes and place them in various locations in your environment. Changing your thoughts can have a profound impact on changing your life. Remember that joy is not tied to circumstance. Whatever is going on in your life, rise up and choose joy. Acceptance means never turning your back on yourself. Make a decision today to love and respect yourself. If you don’t, odds are, no one else will. You are, in essence, setting the bar for how others can/will treat you.
“Loving everything about yourself – even the unacceptable – is an act of personal power.
It is the beginning of healing.”
13 steps to achieving self-love:
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Don’t worry about others’ opinions
- Allow yourself to make mistakes
- Remember your value doesn’t lie in how your body looks
- Don’t be afraid to let go of toxic people
- Process your fears
- Trust yourself to make good decisions for yourself
- Take every opportunity life presents or create your own goals/dreams
- Put yourself first
- Feel pain and joy as fully as you can
- Exercise boldness in public
- See beauty in simple things
- Be kind to yourself
Self-love is about accepting what you’ve been through and the choices you’ve made because you now know that you acted on the knowledge and experiences that you had to date, at that time. Sure you have evolved and may be a different person now than you were then. Your today’s choice may be different than yesterday’s choice. This is progress. Don’t be hard on yourself. Self-judgment can be harsh and may not lead to healthy progress. Self-acceptance of all of who you are is a key to self-love. Your journey is different than anyone else’s and the ride you have been on has made you who you are. Love yourself foremost by accepting all parts of you, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. You are so special and you totally got this.