The world is a strange and scary place. Still, we find ways to rise above time-and-time again, buoyed by our optimism and our hope for love. Finding love is not as easy as looking for it in the reflection of others, however. To truly know the depth of love when it comes to our bond with loved ones, we have to first know a love of self and the beauty that we have to offer this world.
The journey to self-love is crucial.
How deeply do you love yourself? Have you looked into the depths of your soul and embraced yourself for who you truly are? It’s hard to be happy in this life when we’re not even happy with ourselves. We are the one constant that never wavers. Wherever you go in this life — however high you climb or low you fall — you will always be there, standing right beside yourself. In order to be happy with that, you have to be happy with yourself. Beyond that, you have to love yourself and accept everything you are and everything you want.
You will never know love until you know love of self.
The journey to self-love isn’t a straightforward road (Campbell, 2002). We have to adopt new habits and shed the old ones that don’t suit us anymore. Are you running around in circles? Pursuing opportunities and people that aren’t good for you? By taking small, intentional (and mindful) steps, you can cultivate a love and respect for self that makes your life that much better for the living. Enrich your existence by falling in love with the person that is always by your side. It doesn’t take a major overhaul. It only takes conscious and wholesome intention.
Tips for loving yourself more effectively.
Self-love seems like a big ask — and it is when you’ve spent your life hating yourself. It doesn’t require major changes to adopt this habit, though, and it doesn’t take uprooting our lives in any major way. Instead, it involves shifting our perspective and learning to celebrate who we are. To do this, we have to shift our focus and intentionally take small action to reframe who we are.
Journaling is one of the simplest and most effective ways for us to solidify our self-love journey. Self-love journaling is the act of celebratory journaling. You write down things you love about yourself, tasks you’ve managed to accomplish, and hurdles you’ve managed to overcome. It’s a bit like a “greatest hits” book. You should be able to refer back to it regularly and see how amazing you really are.
Kindness is an act, and while we readily extend it to others — we’re not always kind to ourselves. This kindness is a part of loving yourself. Be actively kind to yourself each day. Say kind things, commit to kind action that reminds you how special and valid you are. Be mindful and aware of how kind (or unkind) you’re being to yourself. Intentionally extend grace and compassion toward yourself when things get tough.
Balance the self-talk
What kind of self-talk takes up most of the space in your life? Is that inner voice overwhelmingly negative? Or is it a voice of kindness and reason? You’ve got to find the balance between your inner critic and your inner cheerleader if you want to find a way to love yourself and the life you’re building. Have you given your inner critic the keys to the kingdom? Take them back and remind yourself of all the ways in which you are skilled and worthy.
Giving to others is one of the better ways to realize the good in ourselves. Seeing this good, we are more likely to love and empathize with our inner self. How often do you use altruism as a means of boosting your mood and self-esteem? You realize how powerful and good you are when you spend your time in service to those who need help and grace. Put yourself out there and be loving toward others so you can love yourself.
Engage in meditation
A big part of loving ourselves involves being able to be present with ourselves. What happens when you’re left alone with yourself? Do you feel the compulsive itch to immediately fill that space with other people, and experiences that distract or involve you deeply? These are often signs that we are running from ourselves. We don’t run from the people that we love. Engage in loving and mindful meditation so that you can be present and loving with who you are.
Focus on power
So many of us cannot love ourselves because we spend too much time giving our power away to others. To love yourself is to have power over your life and the environment around you. When you love yourself, you stand up for yourself and go after the things you really want in your life. You need to take back this power for yourself. You’ve got to stop looking to others for validation and know that you are the only person who can supply that self-worth you’ve been seeking.
Lean into forgiveness
You will never tap into the full extent of your love until you learn how to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes in this life. We all get things wrong. In order for you to find any peace, you’re going to have to confront and accept the humanity in you. Lean into forgiveness. Allow yourself to get it wrong and see it as an opportunity to learn the right way. The greater your forgiveness of self becomes, the easier it will be for you to love yourself inside and out.
Putting it all together…
It’s impossible to build a life that we love when we don’t even love ourselves. Self-love is a stepping stone into all the other facets of love in our lives. Want to have better intimate relationships? Want more material success in your career? It’s all built on how we see ourselves and how deeply we love and value the person inside.
Journal daily and use the space to celebrate your accomplishments and the things you like about yourself. Each evening write at least 3 things you did well and then write at least 1 thing you love about yourself. Practice active kindness. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend or a partner. Balance out your self-talk. Every time that critical voice inside your head pops up, put it down and tell it it has no power over your life or the way you see yourself. Don’t just dwell on yourself, though. One of the best ways to learn self-love is to build altruism into our lives. Give to others and you will find it easier to give to yourself. Take back your power and forgive yourself often for mistakes you make. We’re all human and we’re all doing the best we can to build a life that we love. Embrace the journey and love yourself too.
- Campbell, W., Foster, C. and Finkel, E., 2002. Does self-love lead to love for others? A story of narcissistic game playing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), pp.340–354.