Self-love is an essential part of living a healthy, happy life. It's the foundation of self-esteem and self-acceptance, yet is often difficult for many of us to practice. We're often taught that we should "love ourselves" or that "self-love is key"; but what does loving oneself even mean? Unfortunately, this platitude is often devoid of real meaning and can leave us feeling uncertain of how to go about it.
Simply put, self-love is learning to treat ourselves in a manner that we would treat those who are closest and most important to us– our friends, significant others, and family members. Loving yourself means recognizing and cultivating the unique qualities you possess, despite feeling such emotions as fear, hurt, disappointment and failure.
Although self-love is a learned behavior, and not something we are born with naturally, it is something we can begin practicing each and every day. Here are a few steps one can take towards learning to love themselves:
Often times, we're so focused on the things we don't have that we forget to appreciate the little moments and kindnesses from others, ourselves included. Embrace the fact that there is always something to be grateful for and make appreciation a part of your daily routine. Start by acknowledging yourself for the small successes and for taking a step in the right direction.
Show Yourself Kindness
Rather than berate, belittle, and criticize yourself, shift your mindset to practice kindness. Speak to yourself using the same supportive and encouraging words you would use when speaking to a loved one. Pay attention to any self-talk that is more like "self-talk", and remember to practice empathy rather than judgement.
Do Something That Makes You Feel Good
As with any new habit it's essential to make it rewarding to ourselves. Think of activities that give you a break from the noise and chaos of daily life. Spend time outdoors walking, running or biking. Commit to a hobby, or try something new. Taking care of the body is an excellent way to show yourself love. Take time to nourish yourself with nutritious food and regular physical activity.
Take a Break From Screen Time
Technology is an integral part of our lives. But sometimes, we require a break or digital detox. Constant stimulation increases our stress levels and keeps us from truly connecting with oneself. Log off for even just 30 minutes and spend some time talking to yourself. Make a conscious effort to make yourself a priority.
Finding Time for Reflection
Take some time out of the day for yourself. Keep a gratitude journal, write out your thoughts and feelings, meditate or just take a few deep breaths. Emotional regulation is helping ourselves to be present and in the moment, allowing us to recognize our inner wisdom. So spend quality time with yourself and tune into how you're truly feeling.
Ending Toxic Habits
One of the basic fundamentals of self-love is cutting out any toxic habits. Daily excesses in drinking or smoking, indulging in negative self-talk, never setting aside free time or engaging in unhealthy relationships should all be eliminated immediately. Becoming aware of our choices and being willing to take responsibility for them are all essential aspects of self-love.
It doesn't matter where you're at in your journey of self-love: each of these steps can be taken to cultivate a stronger sense of self-love within ourselves. By giving ourselves the proper time and care, we can start enjoying daily moments of contentment and happiness and eventually develop a powerful self-love capacity!