We all know how to love, innately. But self love? That’s a hard concept to grasp when you struggle with taunting anxious thoughts or debilitating symptoms of self loathing.
It can be far easier to love others because we can only see the best sides of them. When you are the only person who sees yourself for what you present to the world and knows the inner workings of your brain (which can be some of the ugliest parts of yourself), it can be hard to want to practice self-love.
Self-love is the act of valuing your own well-being and overall happiness. It is an acceptance of unconditional support and caring for yourself. Acts of self-love come directly from our own willingness to meet our personal needs. These needs can be simple, like making food when we don’t feel like eating, showering when we don’t feel like even getting out of bed, and so on.
Think of the person whom you love the most, and ask yourself, “What would you do for that person on a bad day?” Most likely you would do your best to help her recoup her energy and bring a positive light to whatever situation she finds herself in. You would love her even on a bad day.
So do this for yourself. Love yourself as you love others. Being able to love yourself when you have anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue or illness is difficult, primarily because you don’t feel lovable a lot of the time — but it’s still important. Give yourself priority when you’re feeling extra crummy.
It’s so easy, as humans, to be so hard on ourselves. Before you can truly love yourself, you must accept that you are human and not perfect. Give yourself a break by practicing being less hard on yourself. There are no failures — only opportunities to grow and learn. By shifting your thinking to forgiveness, you will cultivate the best form of unconditional self-love.
Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.
7 STEPS TO LOVING YOURSELF BETTER
- Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want
- Act on what you need rather than what you want
- Practice good self-care
- Set boundaries
- Protect yourself
- Forgive yourself
- Live intentionally
If you choose just one or two of these self-love actions to work on, you will begin to accept and love yourself more. Just imagine how much you’ll appreciate you when you exercise these seven-steps to self-love. It is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise all of the actions of self-love that I describe here, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way. The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relating. Even more, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.