Self-love and self-care are hot topics these days, and not without good reason: in today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli that influence our day-to-day thinking.
The ability to love one’s self is a learned skill, and depending on your self-image, it can take years to develop the skill. However, it is certainly available to learn how to love yourself, and these simple steps will help you build habits of self-love.
- Watch your thoughts
In order to love yourself, the essential step is to start paying attention to the way you think about yourself.
Most people don’t think about their thinking–it’s a habit you have to cultivate day in and day out, but in order to love yourself, you must start by swapping negative thoughts for positive ones each time you catch yourself thinking them.
-Treat yourself the way you treat others
You’ve heard the saying “treat others the way you’d like to be treated,” but the inverse is also true.
Most of the time, it’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself, but if you’re the kind of person who finds it easy to do things for others but never pays attention to your own needs, then you should definitely apply your good habits towards others to yourself.
It’s also important to set boundaries in your life and in your relationships.
When you have a positive self-image, you are less likely to let people walk all over you or do things you’re uncomfortable with for the sake of not letting someone else down.
Learning that it’s okay to say no out of respect for yourself will help you build a habit of valuing your worth.
-Spend time by yourself
Spending time with friends and family is great and can be very healthy, but sometimes, it’s necessary to get alone in order to rest or just do the things you like to do.
It also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your thinking and work things out without distractions.
Of course, this implies that you put the technology aside sometimes–though it’s also nice to watch a movie or some YouTube by yourself sometimes, too.
-Cultivate loving relationships
On the flipside, loving yourself also means spending time with the people who love you, whether it’s your significant other, family member, or friend. In any case, it is important that it is a loving relationship–not a one-way street, not hostile or negative, and not toxic. No relationship is perfect, but if you walk away feeling like crap almost every time, or then it’s probably time to rethink that relationship’s value. The people you spend the most time with should bring out the best in you, not the opposite.
-Don’t settle for less
This is advice often used in relationships, but it is certainly applicable to other areas, too: don’t settle for the job that you hate, the haircut that sucked, or even when a restaurant gets your order wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards as long as you don’t start expecting perfection. Believing that you deserve quality relationships, quality services, and a quality life is an important part of loving yourself.
-Learn how to relax
Many of us are on the go a lot–jobs, school, family, etc., and we don’t take the time to relax enough. Relaxation doesn’t always mean a week-long vacation. (Although that’s nice sometimes, too!) It can mean a fifteen-minute breather, an evening of pampering, or a nature walk at the local park. Anyway you slice it, relaxation is an essential part of showing yourself a little self-love and makes it easier for you to do the things you need to do.
-Be honest with yourself
It’s really easy, depending on who you are, to slip into denial when it comes to recognizing your weaknesses–because most of us don’t like our flaws, and we don’t want to think about them. Even though it’s not productive to focus on them obsessively, it’s also not productive to pretend they don’t exist. That means you’re lying to yourself, because everyone has weaknesses. Being honest about your mistakes and accepting the fact that you’re not perfect is actually more loving than ignoring them–because then you can grow through them.
-Believe in grace
It doesn’t matter what your personal belief system is–you’re better off believing in grace than not, because when you do make mistakes, you need a healthy way to deal with them. The alternative is having grace on yourself–determining that your shortcomings do not have any bearing on your self-worth. It can be difficult to do at times, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Right next to grace is forgiveness–and again, it doesn’t matter what your belief system is, because forgiving yourself is essential to self-love. When you hold onto your mistakes, you’re not helping anyone–least of all yourself. No matter how big the mistake is, learning to forgive yourself is incredibly healing.
-Learn to let go of the past
This goes hand-in-hand with forgiving yourself, but the difference is that it also implies forgiving others. Many times, not forgiving others is just as (if not more) damaging to yourself than it is to the other person. Letting go of past transgressions–whether they were your fault or someone else’s–is a two-fold kindness to yourself and to others.
-Live in the present
If you’re not living in the past, then you may be fretting the future–which isn’t going to help you love yourself much. All we really have is the present moment, and it’s enough just to face the challenges (and successes) of the day. It’s not that you can always ignore the concerns of the future, but you can choose to accept where you are today and treat each day as a fresh start.
-Do the things you love
This one seems self-evident, but many of us don’t take the time to do the things that
make us happy–whether it’s drawing, reading, playing basketball, anything positive. But loving yourself does mean doing the things you love, so find what makes you happy and do it!
-Treat yourself every so often
You’ve likely heard this before–and though you can definitely go overboard with treating yourself, if you’re the kind of person who tends to deny yourself the things that you want, then by all means, treat yo’self! (Parks and Rec fans, I hope this reference resonates.) Buy that cute top, that cheeseburger, that doo-dad. As long as you’re not breaking the bank, show yourself a little love every now and then and buy yourself a present!
Yes, you should give to yourself, but also giving to others is one of the most fulfilling ways to love yourself–as long as it’s not out of obligation or guilt. Giving freely–without expecting anything in return–is just as satisfying for you as it is for the person you’re giving to, and in that act of selflessness, you’re showing yourself more love than if you were to hold back from giving.
-Take care of yourself
Treating yourself is nice, but beware of treating yourself too much–because part of loving yourself is loving your body, too. This doesn’t mean you become a health guru, but it does mean you take the necessary steps to feel good, whether it’s walking, running, biking, yoga, drinking more water, making wholesome meals, or eliminating foods that make you feel blah. You only get one body–so love it!
-Celebrate your accomplishments
Thanks to negativity bias, most of us are more likely to focus on our failures than on our accomplishments–but you can’t forget all the things you’ve succeeded in doing, no matter how small! Take the time to write a list of everything you feel proud of, even if it feels insignificant–and then celebrate them!
-Don’t compare yourself to others
This one is huge, because in our social media-saturated world, it’s easy to spend hours looking at people who seem much prettier/healthier/happier/more successful than you. First of all, you have no idea what those people’s lives are actually like, and it’s a guarantee that they have flaws. Second of all, you can only be the person you are, and just like celebrating your accomplishments, you have to celebrate what makes you unique, too.
Naturally, this one would make the list. Easier said than done, right? We can’t always be 100% ourselves in every setting. If you’re loud and boisterous, you probably can’t be that way at your quiet job. Although, if it’s too much to bear, maybe it’s worth your while to find a job that plays to your strengths! The goal is to be the most yourself as possible, and if you’re holding back, then take a step back and ask yourself why.
-Learn to let go of the little things
Similar to living in the present, learning to let go of the little things implies that you keep moving forward and not let small irritants ruin your day or your self-image. So you spilled your coffee–that sucks, but it’s nothing to beat yourself up over. So you didn’t get your laundry done like you said you would–tomorrow is a new day! Learning to love yourself means learning to laugh at your mistakes, to let them go, and to keep moving forward. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you think about yourself.