We’ve all heard the term “self-love” and have an idea of what it means. Usually we think of those little things that we can do for ourselves to show ourselves a little love. It’s the pedicure or massage. It’s taking a nap or reading a book. As a coach in the health and wellness field, I think of concepts like fueling your body with nutrition and moving your body in a way that feels good. “Self-love” and “self-care” are often used interchangeably.
But there are some deeper ways that we can “self love”. And these ways are acutely important. Why? Because showing ourselves radical self-love can help us increase our sense of confidence and worth and heal wounds.
So how do we learn to practice self-love? Here are 13 ways to start loving ourselves more!
Let go of perfectionism
No one is perfect. We certainly don’t have the expectation for others to be perfect, but for many of us, we hold ourselves to this unattainable standard. And its result is the frequent feeling of disappointment and failure. It’s healthy to strive to be better, but accepting and loving who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures is an act of self-love and compassion.
Stop comparing yourself to others
There is always going to be someone thinner, someone more fit, someone more successful, richer, more anything. Comparing ourselves to others either makes us feel inadequate or superior, and neither are feelings based in love. Instead of turning outward, look inward and stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you need to compare yourself with is the past you. Are you doing better than you were a year ago? Are you trying to be the person you want to be everyday? Yea, you are. You’re doing great! Love that about you and love you for where you are right now.
Give yourself permission to love your body
Your body is unique. It is a vessel that helps you move through the world. It creates new life, for heaven’s sake! If we can stop getting hung up on achieving this “ideal” body, we can love our body as it is. And when we love our body right now, it helps us to make decisions that are right for our body. For so many of us, we think when we’re in a thinner body that we’ll be happier people, but it simply is not how it works. Your negative thoughts about your body don't suddenly change with weight loss. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Giving yourself permission to love “what is” is a form of self-love that will create the confidence to live the life you want to live.
Remember who you are
None of us live a life without pain and disappointment. We have a full range of emotions and experiences that can sometimes create self-doubt. That’s natural. But when we let these feelings dictate much of our thoughts, we lose sight of who we are at the core. Remembering your core values, those qualities that make you you, keeps you centered and confident in who you are. You are more than your failures. You are more than what size jeans you wear. When we remember who we are at our core, how can we not love that?
If you want to grow the love you have for yourself, practicing gratitude is a great way to do that. Consciously focusing on the blessings in our lives fills our heart and feeds our spirit. Taking two minutes a day to journal gratitude can change your life.
This is a big one. Think about how you have been wronged in your life. Now think about all the times you forgave others out of love for them. Forgiving others is a gift to ourselves because it releases negative feelings. But for wrongs we have committed, mistakes we have made, we often carry those with us for a lifetime because we feel like we deserve to be punished for them. So we punish ourselves by holding onto them. Deciding to forgive ourselves for these regretful moments in life shows radical self-love! Just do it.
Let go of toxic relationships
Get rid of the people in your life that are not supporting you. If there is someone in your life that makes you feel anything other than fantastic, show yourself love by removing them from your life. This can be a difficult task for most of us, because we’re people pleasers and would rather accept the negativity than create conflict and confrontation. But ultimately that creates conflict in us, and that’s not self-love.
Unplug and just "be"
Life is busy, and we all need a break sometimes. For a lot of us, this break comes in the form of scrolling our phone or watching TV. And while there isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s an entertaining distraction, we miss these moments that could be moments that we reflect or just breathe. Think about unplugging for a time and just let yourself be. Allow your mind to wander or reflect or just be present with your breath for a few minutes. Show yourself love through just “being”.
Nurture your friendships
Our social circle affects the way we feel about ourselves. Look at the 5 people you are the closest with. These people should make you feel supported and loved, because that’s how you want them to feel. Do the friends closest to you value themselves? We rub off on one another, so if your circle is bringing you down or you’re surrounded with people that don’t value themselves, love yourself enough to make some hard decisions there. Love, support, and encourage your friends because with that gift, we’re giving those things to ourselves too.
Check in with yourself emotionally
This is an important way to show self-love, but it’s hard for many of us. We’re raised to push feelings down, to ignore them, or that our feelings are not valid. But they are valid and we all have them. This is part of our “human-ness”. Be willing to acknowledge how you feel and decide how you want to respond to those feelings in a way that honors you. Monitor your self-talk and challenge those thoughts that are unkind, not useful, or not even true. Decide that you can let those sorts of thoughts go and make room for more positive thoughts about yourself. Stopping this inner torment is a pathway to happiness and deeper self-love.
I’m talking to all you “can’t say no” and all you “people pleasers” out there. Failing to set boundaries that protect your time and your peace is not an act of self-love. It is okay to say no to activities that suck your time without feeling guilty about it. It is an act of self-love to set strong boundaries for people who are energy vampires. Our emotional well being and living our lives by our values is more important than what we think people might think of us.
Embrace the fact that you can’t control everything
Just like you can’t control the weather, you can’t control others’ actions, reactions, thoughts, or feelings. The only person you can control is you. Show yourself love by living your life in accordance to your truth. If you are the only person you can control, how will that affect your thoughts and feelings? Allow others to be who they are and instead focus on how you are going to respond to them in a way that honors your values.
Stop being so hard on yourself
This is one of the biggest things that keeps us from loving ourselves. We are human and to err is human. We all have that inner critic who just loves to beat us up over anything that we feel insecure about, whether it’s the choice we made at dinner or how our body looks. And because our inner critic is often our own voice, we believe what she says. And it’s just not true. If we can show ourselves a little compassion and tell our critic that we don’t need her opinion, we can start to go a little easier on ourselves.
The longest relationship that we will ever have is the one with ourselves. Think about that a minute. How would you rate that relationship? If it’s not a relationship rooted in love and trust, it’s a suffering relationship. So take some steps to foster that loving relationship. How can you show yourself more love for your body, your spirit, your wellbeing today?