Spiritual teachers, gurus, self-help guides, speakers and books… they all say more or less the same thing: self-love is the pathway to happiness and to a life free from suffering. The way some of them put it, it sounds like an easy thing to do. But do you actually know how this “love yourself” thing works? Could you be able to tell if you truly love yourself?
Self-love has several benefits and — contrary to popular belief — it isn’t a woo woo thing. It is, actually, the best thing you can do for yourself. In this article, I’ll share with you what helped me along my self-love journey.
One of the definitions of self-love is to acknowledge and respect every part of you. It’s to accept and appreciate yourself for who you really are. However, self-love can be different for each person because there are different ways to take care of yourself.
What self-love means to me may be different from what it means to you. Figuring out what it looks like to you may help you to improve your overall mental health and wellbeing.
Self-care means self-love?
For many people, self-care is a way to love oneself; but I believe, it’s just a small part of it. Of course, taking care of your health, eating healthy, working out and sleeping well are all ways to look after yourself.
However, self-love goes beyond taking care of the physical body. For some people, it can mean: prioritize yourself, treat and talk to yourself in a nice way, setting boundaries, trusting yourself, being honest with yourself and so on.
Why is it so hard to love ourselves?
Most of us haven’t been educated on one of the most important aspects of life: self-love. In my own upbringing, there was never a focus on accepting myself as I am. The result of not being taught how to love me was an adult lacking in confidence and low self-esteem.
The implications of not respecting and accepting oneself can lead to emotional and psychological pain. If you cannot understand your necessities, respect your values, learn to say no to things that aren’t good for you, then how can you live a happy life? You cannot expect to have a healthy relationship with yourself or reach your goals without self-respect.
- Learn how to say no
When you say “yes” to someone you’re saying “no” to yourself. Learn to respect your values, wants and needs and compromise only if you want to or can. Be clear and honest with yourself about what you truly want. And don’t feel guilty for saying no.
Learning to say no is a way of respecting yourself — thus a form of self-love. This is not a selfish act; when you’re taking care of yourself, you’re impacting others in a beneficial way.
2. Embrace yourself
Loving yourself isn’t about only acknowledging the beautiful and positive parts of you. It’s about loving all parts completely — even the ones you dislike.
It’s perfectly fine to feel angry, jealous and insecure at times. Instead of judging yourself for feeling like that, just embrace it. Realise that it’s part of human nature. Try to see these emotions like a blessing in disguise — an opportunity to learn something from them and grow.
As the spiritual teacher and writer Matt Kahn says: “Instead of trying to not take things personally, just love the one who came here to make like personal. Instead of trying to prove your worth, simply love the one who feels worthless, lost, ashamed, and alone. […] Whatever arises — love that. ”
3. Become your best friend
You are the person you spend the most time with, which means that the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one. Some people have a toxic relationship with their own selves and end up treating themselves as if they were their own enemy.
Treat yourself like you treat a beloved one — with compassion, care and consideration. Becoming your own best friend will make your life so much easier and happier!
4. Check-in with your core beliefs
Core beliefs are assumptions about ourselves like “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never be successful” or “There’s something wrong with me”. When we engage in this bullying type of self-talk, we might enhance some negative core beliefs. This one is the hardest to work on, in my opinion. It takes a lot of courage to dive deep into the dark parts of our minds. It’s a real act of self-love.
It’s hard because it’s painful. You might see things you’ve been trying to avoid for so long. These beliefs might be the way you unconsciously chose to act in certain situations, in order to avoid the things you don’t like about yourself.
So, to rewire our thinking, we have to ask ourselves some tricky questions. Why do you believe in those things? How did you end up with these conclusions? Was it someone or something (an event) that led you to believe in it? Is there a specific event that you recall feeling the same way?
To help you unravel the causes of some limits beliefs you might have developed, try journaling, tapping, talking to a friend or talking to a professional. Uncovering and challenging self-limiting core beliefs can and will transform your life if you do it properly.
Some other ways to express love for yourself can be:
- Writing a gratitude letter to yourself
- Nourishing yourself
- Taking yourself out on a date
- Focusing on the positive and shower yourself with good vibes!
“If you’re searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.”
Written by Camila Santiago
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