As the discourse around mental health issues gains momentum, how to love yourself is one of the biggest dilemmas that most people face. There are a lot of misconceptions and grey areas around this subject. Often, physical fitness and doing superficial things to please yourself is confused as self-love. Actually, the term is much deeper than that.
In fact, ‘self-love’ is often is even mistaken for being selfish or narcissistic, putting your needs above that of others. Especially in cultures that glorify sacrifice and going out of the way to please others, nobody teaches you how to love yourself and take care of your needs first.
Fortunately, these days, even psychologists and spiritual leaders advise that knowing how to love yourself is the first step towards loving others.
In the context of mental health, the concept of self-love was first propagated by William Sweetser in the realm of ‘mental hygiene’. According to his analysis, regular maintenance of mental hygiene was essential to create a positive impact on an individual as well as the community.
In its simplest form, self-love means taking care of your wellbeing and happiness, without needlessly giving into others’ opinions or judgements. It is all about having confidence in yourself, removing doubts about your talents and most importantly, accepting your flaws.
21 Self Love Tips
In pop culture, self-love has been trivialized as going for bubble baths, spa treatments and retail therapy. Sure, these steps might work to make you feel good, but they can’t replace inner peace, contentment, and courage to live life on your own terms.
Developing self-love is a conscious process. Even a seemingly successful person can sometimes be caught in a web of guilt-trips, dilemmas, and self-blame in a low phase. To love yourself when you don’t know how needs a certain understanding of life and the way your mind works. Here are some tips that will teach you how to love yourself.
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1. Be responsible to learn how to love yourself
Talk show legend Oprah Winfrey believes the way to practice self-love is to take responsibility for your life. “If anything has to move forward in life, make it happen. Don’t wait for someone to save you,” she says in her famous ‘10 Rules to Self-love’ guide. “It doesn’t matter where you came from or what circumstances you were born into. What matters is where you are now, forgive the past and look ahead,” is Oprah’s mantra.
2. Be aware of limiting beliefs
Beliefs don’t just mean what you think you believe on the surface but also your shadow beliefs that are often limiting. This is your subconscious mind that often says – ‘I am not good enough, I am not worthy enough’, so on and so forth. If these are the thoughts in your subconscious, you end up acting out of that belief system. Be aware of the negative self-talk.
3. Mirror talk can teach you how to love yourself
YouTuber and mindfulness coach Sarah Ashley Spiegel had hit rock bottom when she learnt how to love herself. Her tip: the mirror work. “Stand in front of the mirror every day, look deep into your eyes and say, ‘I Love Myself’ or ‘I Love You’. Say this for five minutes for one month. It might sound silly, but it helps you get closer to yourself,” she says.
Repetition is important. When you repeat yourself over and over again, the mind will gradually start to believe it and you will start loving yourself.
4. Remember that there is no failure
If you want to learn how to love yourself, remember that life is much bigger than a circumstance or an experience. Failures are nothing but lessons to prod you to move into another direction. “You get as much from your losses as you do from your victories,” says Oprah.
But when you decide to turn around your life, don’t get overwhelmed by the overall picture. Instead, check out the next right step and then the next. Doing one right thing after another is one way how to love yourself.
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5. Be mindful of what you eat
You are what you eat. If you want to keep your vibration high at all times, eating healthy is one way to do it. There are people who after a devastating heartbreak go on an emotional eating binge, neglect themselves and their bodies.
Do your best to steer clear of this trap. Treat your body with respect. Fill it with nourishing food and drinks. Taking care of your body is also a way of practicing self-love.
6. Don’t feel overwhelmed
If you want a readymade How to Love Yourself guidebook, here are a few tips that might just help whenever you feel completely at loss. Take a deep breath. Don’t blame yourself for how you’re feeling. Move your body, go for a walk, and get some fresh air. Connect with a good friend or a loved one to get your dose of love and cheer. Or just step away from your laptop or phone, make a cup of green tea and remind yourself – even this shall pass!
7. End toxic relationships
Is your relationship causing you nothing but stress? Now is the time to end it. End toxic relationships that serve no purpose. If there is anyone who does not make you feel amazing (which you deserve to be!) that person should not have any place in your life.
Know how to love yourself without a man or woman, do not base your self-respect or self-worth on your partner’s perception of your life.
8. Take care of your mind
The mind is a devil that plays tricks and lulls you into believing the worst of yourself and a situation. To provide self-care for the mind, get all the rest you need. Spend some alone time in nature. Practice deep breathing exercises. Get in tune with your emotions. Spend time on your favorite activities. Healing your mind can help you go a long way if you are struggling with how to love yourself.
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9. Meditate. Breathe. Give into a higher energy
The benefits of meditation are too many to enumerate, beginning with mind control. So, make it a point to dedicate 10 minutes, 20 minutes or more of your time each day to meditating. Create a small space in your house where you can feel the energy of the universe. Those scented candles, books, soft chanting music can help you in this pursuit. Use them. When you practice meditation, you practice self-love.
10. Step out of your comfort zone
An extremely useful tip on how to love yourself is to do something that will give you a sense of accomplishment. And nothing can be more satisfying than stepping out of your comfort zone and doing what you were always afraid of.
Never tried your hand at an adventure sport? Sign up for an expedition. Hate cooking? Step into the kitchen. Have no clue what coding is? Sign up for a course. The idea is to not compete with anyone but to push your own limits.
11. Be patient
Think about this – you may have spent an entire lifetime being told you are not good enough, going through obstacles, warding off competition while trying to be successful on others’ terms. But self-love is ever evolving. When you know how to love yourself, you will master patience.
Self-love needs a certain discipline just like sticking to a workout routine. So, be your own support system in sustaining these efforts. You have to be your own cheer leader because nobody else will.
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12. Treat others well
If you know how to love yourself, you will know how to treat others well too. Being kind and polite to others does not mean you ignore or neglect yourself. It means you treat others the way you expect to be treated by them. Of course, there is a chance that some people might not repay the favors but that’s okay. Don’t take it to heart. Give wisely. Be true to yourself while being nice to those around you.
13. Say NO when necessary
‘No’ is an immensely powerful word. It can put an end to bad relationships, terrible jobs, horrible bosses, and insensitive partners. Often people take on too much responsibility by not being able to refuse work. They then burn out.
In the personal realm, there are a few who constantly run around to make other’s lives comfortable and happy while not doing anything for themselves. Stop being the sacrificial lamb. Learning to say no does not make you a bad person.
14. Practice self-love in a relationship
You need to love yourself whether you are in a relationship or not. When you know how to love yourself, you will be able to keep your partner happier. Self-love in a relationship means demanding and getting equality. You are confident to express your desires and take appropriate, mature actions if your expectations are not met.
Being in love is a wonderful feeling but it’s not worth losing your identity for. That’s what it means to practice self-love in a relationship.
15. Take care of yourself
Remember one thing: you can only give what you have. The quality of giving has been extolled in our scriptures and religious books but while doing so, you cannot deplete your own energy. “Work on yourself and fill yourself up and keep your cup full,” advises Oprah.
Listen to your body. Feeling exhausted after a day’s work only to realize you have a party to attend? If your body refuses more action, respect it. Refuse the invitation.
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16. Be your own child
Sarah Ashley Spiegel has coined this term – BYOC (Be Your Own Child). We are often overly critical of ourselves because we strive to meet unrealistic expectations set by society. So, scoring less than perfect grades or putting on weight makes us anxious. “During such times, think about the unconditional love you have for your child. If your child made a mistake, you wouldn’t make them feel worse about it. That’s how you should treat yourself too,” she says.
17. Focus on gratitude
To learn how to love yourself, focus on the things you have and not the things you don’t. If you concentrate on what you have, you will find the universe is abundant and gives you more. If you operate from a feeling of inadequacy, you will never have enough.
Write a journal. Journaling is an interesting and useful technique to practice self-love. Every day write 10 things that you are grateful for. Read and re-read them. You will see that your energy immediately shifts from the negative to the positive.
18. Do not compare
The day you realize you are beautiful the way you are is when you can say you know how to love yourself. Accepting your flaws is a key element to practicing self-love. Loving yourself completely means being aware of your weaknesses, not beating yourself over them, and trying to correct them with tenderness and patience. Stop taking notes on what others are doing and how they are doing it.
19. Speak kindly to yourself
You may feel awful if somebody says harsh things to you. Similarly, you will feel terrible if you say bad things to yourself. When you look into the mirror, do you notice imperfections of your body or are you grateful for the beautiful body you have?
When you want to learn self-love, first love yourself in a relationship that you share with your innermost self. Others treat you the way you treat yourself. So be kind to yourself first.
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20. Practice affirmations
Affirmations can be hugely beneficial. Keep telling yourself – I am enough, or I am more than enough. Tell yourself this until it is imprinted on your subconscious. These days there are several affirmation cards available in the market and each have different ways of telling you how to love yourself.
Buy a pack and meditate over them. Feel the words as you say them out loud. These are all ways to get rid of any negativity or guilt you may harbor about yourself.
21. You are the center of your universe
The biggest choices begin and end with you. Think about your relationships as the sources of your choices – your spouse, work, and children. This means going within deeply. To master how to love yourself form a connection with your source energy before you connect with the world.
Self-love is not just a fancy term being bandied about. Neither, as we said, is it about looking good on the outside. To love yourself means to respect your core without coming across as self-centered. The power lies within you. Begin this whole new relationship that you have with yourself and watch your world and love life undergo a transformation like none other.
You can learn to love yourself by paying attention to your needs and desires, voicing them aloud and taking actions to fulfill them without worrying about others’ reactions. Walk your own path instead of being bogged by the standards set by society.
Write a gratitude journal. Take frequent breaks. Go for a walk in the nature. Exercise and eat healthy. Practice mindfulness and meditation. Be constantly aware of your breath. Use the mirror technique.
You learn to love and accept yourself by stopping needless comparisons of your journey with that of others. Know that it is impossible to be perfect and also that happiness cannot be a permanent state of life.
Putting your interests before that of others, refusing to do things that your heart is not set upon, learning to say no firmly yet politely, practicing gratitude, taking frequent breaks are examples of self-love.
Developing unconditional self-love requires commitment and practice. Repeat affirmations to yourself. Learn to accept a situation and yourself with all its flaws. Treat yourself the way you would treat a child.