It makes me so happy to be writing this article for you. At last, it is becoming trendy to “be loving to oneself”, and I want to be part of this incredibly worthwhile movement. Over the last few years, there has been a more conscious approach to health, spiritual practices and caring for the environment. A shift happening on a global scale. Now more than ever, we are starting to realise how important it is to truly care about ourselves.
Because when you love yourself, healing takes place in all areas of your life. Your life will improve dramatically. You will feel way better than you are feeling right now. You will attract the kind of people that truly deserve you. You will get the job you want. You will earn the money you need. Your relationships will improve and your overall fulfilment and satisfaction of life will bring you all the joy and happiness that you crave. Therefore, the most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself, being 100% into YOU, happy with your real self, faults and all.
I know. Easier said than done. It is frightening to observe how easily we can become our worst enemies; how easy it is to show up in the way we think the world wants to see us. I am well aware that one of our greatest struggles in life is to accept, embrace and love ourselves, with all of our imperfections. We struggle to show up honestly and authentically, giving ourselves credit for everything we are, being brave enough to show up genuinely, knowing that not everyone will agree with us or like us every step of the way, and to be OK with it.
In this article, I aim to help you shift the focus into becoming your own best friend instead. The challenge here is not to discover self-love; it is about breaking down the walls we have built against it. Self-love lives within us, we have just forgotten how to access it. So we need to work on breaking down those walls. Because when we have the courage to push through them – to really know and embrace ourselves, despite our flaws, our human imperfections and our rejections – we also open the door to connecting in a more caring and empathic ways with others who are truly worth loving.
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
So why is it so hard to love yourself? We live in a world that is constantly telling us what to buy, what to wear, how to look, what to eat … how to be, essentially. All over the media and social media we are being told who to be and what to do to be happy and successful, creating impossible to reach expectations. This constant stream of unrealistic demands is hurting us in more levels than one. As we get caught up into this dangerous world of pretend and made up perfection, we unintentionally become too focused on our flaws, what we lack, comparing ourselves to others, missing all together the opportunities to love and appreciate ourselves.
Society at large also tells us that our worth is found in the idols of our culture – technology, status, youth, beauty, power, money, etc. Consistently comparing ourselves to such unrealistic demands flood us with thoughts of “I’m not good enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.” Feelings of lack are neverending. The thing is that, if you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love. In it’s simplest form, loving yourself comes down to your ACTIONS. The more you love, cherish, and honour yourself, the more you will flourish, come alive and feel safe and energetic. So be aware of every time that you ignore and neglect yourself.
Now, a word of warning. Learning to truly love yourself is a journey, and there is no magic pill for it. You will go through highs and lows, good and bad days, and it will be an adventure worth investing into, because the rewards will provide you with true riches. So let’s begin the journey to love ourselves. Let me share with you some simple, proven ways to get you to fall in love with yourself in no time.
1. Stop the negativity
Our brains are running our lives, controlling us as we spend our days engrossed into negative thoughts and worry about ourselves, rather than actively loving and respecting ourselves. So the action step here is simple: Stop all criticism – right now. Criticism and negativity never changes a thing. If you want to love yourself, you are going to have to start demanding of yourself much more than you have so far.
Focus on approving of yourself, wherever you are, and refuse being critical of yourself. Everybody changes. Take a look around you, and you will find a world filled with beautiful imperfection. Criticism breaks down your self-esteem, so find intentional ways to praise yourself instead, as much as you can.
You need to become aware of your thoughts and your words, and work to stop the gossip and the complaints. Complaining is a negative energy that locks us into a negative way of thinking. When we think and speak about the negative in ourselves and others, we zoom in on exactly that – the negative surrounding us. Also, you need to be aware of comparing your life to someone else’s – remember that people often only show their highlight, made up version of themselves, especially online – not their reality.
So instead, we need to work on shifting our radar towards what inspires us in others and ourselves, and look for connection, growth, love and joy. And as we begin to work on this shift, those are the exact qualities that we’ll be able to nurture in our own lives. It takes time and practice to achieve this shift, and you will undoubtedly come across many hurdles. Don’t let any of that stop you. Keep going and it will get easier and easier, until it becomes second nature.
2. Mind your mind
It has been estimated that an average brain has anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day, and around 70% of them are believed to be negative. Additionally, nowadays the information we consume in just one day is equivalent to that of a whole year back in the 1970s. Now, it doesn’t take long to realise that our brains are on overdrive, unable to develop at the speed of technology advancements, and we are all paying a big price for it. As a result, you may be living your life on auto pilot, overwhelmed and worrying about everything. What many of us don’t realise is that with some fine tweaking and awareness, we can all take control of our minds, instead of letting our minds control our lives.
You must become aware of the type of information that you allow your brain to consume. Just like your body feels grumpy if you feed it unhealthy foods consistently, your mind will also feel pretty terrible if it is constantly being fed rubbish – and your mood will suffer too. Stop consuming as much media as possible, instead, feed your brain with uplifting, positive and inspiring content, like TED Talks. Unfollow or unfriend people in your social media newsfeed that only spread negativity. Be very intentional what you feed your brain, the benefits will be huge.
3. Forgive your past self
I cannot begin to tell you how many of the people that I work with find it extremely difficult to let go of their past, their mistakes and failures, and the way they may have acted a long time ago. We tend to be really hard on ourselves, and often find it difficult to forgive ourselves for our wrongdoings. Holding onto this negativity isn’t helping you.
You did the best you could with the resources that you had. Enough already! Time to let go. You are not the same person as before. So give yourself permission to grow and change, and become a better version of yourself, whilst continuing to work on doing your best, one day at the time. And whatever happened in the past, it’s just that, past. Make peace with it.
Time to refocus on your present and future now. So stop regretting what could have been, or how it should have been, and start paying attention to who you want to become. What you focus on grows, so time to break up with the past. It’s just a matter of accepting that sometimes good people make bad choices. It doesn’t mean you’re bad; it just means you’re human.
There are many things you can do to make peace with yourself. You can journal about it, meditate or talk about it out loud, creating the intention to forgive yourself for your past actions.
You did the best you could at the time; you didn’t know any better, and you now know that you will act differently in the future. Occasionally, it takes help from someone else who understands the situation to go into these dark places – it could be a close friend, mentor, confidant, coach or therapist. You don’t have to do this work alone, just find someone who has walked the path successfully and sympathises with you fully.
4. Be kind and acknowledge yourself
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is so much easier to be patient and kind with the people we love. So how come we don’t seem to apply the same principle to ourselves? We are so used putting ourselves last. And the fact is that, unless we are gentle and kind with ourselves, we’ll never really give ourselves a chance to be and do our best. So be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to take a chance on life, to explore new areas, to give yourself room to grow and, yes, fail and make mistakes, as this is the only way to learn and truly live. Treat yourself as you would someone you really love.
Create a daily routine to acknowledge yourself so that you can focus on all that you are doing, rather than what you aren’t. Ask yourself daily: “What do I acknowledge about myself today? Write down any achievements, however big or small. On a bad day, go back to your entries, it will help you see how much there is to appreciate about yourself and how far you’ve come on your journey.
Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness and love. Acceptance and love must come from within. You don’t have to be different to be worthy; your worth is in your true nature. It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and living in appreciation. So train your mind to be grateful, appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
One of the greatest presents you can give yourself (and your loved ones), is to be present, every chance you get. Your life is not what happens between your birth and death; your life is what happens between now and your next breath. So pay close attention to your life as you’re living it; so much is lost when we don’t.
5. Take care of your body
Your body is your temple, and if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. You don’t need to be an expert in the subject. We all know the basics of what needs to be done to live a healthier life, we just choose not to apply them. And if you don’t, it has never been so easy to access relevant information and professionals to help you regain your health.
If you spend your day sitting and watching too much TV, then your creative and emotional energies will be trapped in your body. The danger of this is that when we are chronically stagnant with our bodies, that stuck energy often turns into anxiety and sadness. So instead of living a sedentary life, get up and move as often as you can. Find some form of movement that feels good to you, and make it a priority. From walking outside for a few minutes, a fun class or workout, and even dancing, do something that you enjoy and your body will thank you for it.
Likewise, if you are making poor food choices, you are going to feel like junk. So eat clean most of the time, drink lots of water, eat fresh foods and limit your intake of processed foods. Add to that adequate sleep and you will feel like you can conquer the world.
Finally, you must regularly make time for rest and relaxation. We expect so much from ourselves, which is causing us to feel stressed and verging burnout. To counteract this, take naps when you feel like it or treat yourself to a nice bath or a spa treatment whenever you want. Occasionally allow yourself to have no plans. Let your soul breathe.
Self-care is an essential aspect of loving yourself, so start paying attention and find a way to cherish the temple you live in. Don’t wait until you get better, or lose the weight. Start loving your body and yourself where you are right now, and do the best you can.
6. Remember to have fun
What makes you happy? Many of us don’t really know the answer to this question. Life has become so serious, and we have lost touch with the things that make us feel alive. Well, it is time to put a stop to that. Without fun, life is not worth living! And if you don’t know where to start, try to remember the things that gave you joy as a child. Incorporate them into your life now. Find a way to have fun with everything you do. Let yourself express the joy of living. Smile and laugh as often as you can, and you will start liking yourself a lot more for it.
Become more intentional about how you spend your time, and create time for the things that matter most to you. Give yourself permission to say no to people, work or circumstances that don’t serve you and your values. Make a point to spend time with people whose company you enjoy on a regular basis. The more you honour yourself and how you spend your time, the better you’ll feel. Don’t wait around for someone else to give you permission to live.
Caring for yourself is not selfish. We simply cannot give what we don’t have. So give yourself permission to live a good life and do things that you care about and take good care of yourself. Loosen up and be a little less serious about it all. Don’t take life too seriously; if you do, you’ll end up fearing every new step you take. So take life with a pinch of salt and laugh at yourself and your circumstances. People with a good sense of humour have a better sense of life.
7. Invest in fulfilling relationships
Not only is spending time around your favourite people good for you, but actively loving others, being kind and spending quality time with them, helps you channel love into your relationship with yourself. So take time to love your closest friends, family members, and significant others, and watch your self-love grow as a byproduct of being a good friend, sibling, child, lover to those who you’ve deemed to be worthy of your time.
Treating your favourite people with love and kindness makes you feel good in the same way that being intentional about how you spend your time makes you feel good. You’re essentially saying to your heart that “Yes, I care about you enough to put love into the places that I deem to be worthy of my time, attention, and love.” So form relationships where you feel loved and appreciated. The path to unconditional love isn’t meant to be a lonely one.
Furthermore, one of the best ways that you can cultivate a loving relationship with yourself, is to spend some time alone regularly. So you are also going to have to learn to spend time alone – with yourself, a very scary thought for many. Find ways to enjoy your own company. Go out, take a walk, meditate, do whatever appeals to you, and create the space and listen for insightful thoughts and revelations to come up for you.
Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Continuously look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings and the messages from your heart. Confidence comes from knowing that what you’re doing is right, and that what you’re doing is right for YOU. So make contact with your real inner self through meditation, self-reflection or contemplation, and create some quiet time every day to make contact with your inner world. You will come to appreciate and really enjoy the real you, your authentic self.
8. Seek professional help
Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counsellor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world at large. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.
So get started with whichever tips seem either the easiest to you, or the most challenging, depending on where you are in your journey and what you’re looking to work on. Start with one, focus on incorporating it into your life, and when you feel like you have a solid handle on integrating that habit, then start the work of adding another. People will come and go. So will life’s events. So will days and nights. And a true love for yourself will always stay with you, if you nurture it. So do those things that help you love yourself more, and never look back.
Over to you now: Which of the above points do you struggle with the most? How will you love yourself more today? What are the 3 most important steps that you need to take to help you on your way towards loving yourself more? You are lovable and it is your birthright to be loved, so invest in reconnecting with your true self. There is not better time to begin than now. I wish you the best of luck in your self-love journey.
Here’s to your success!