For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of self-love, it is a phrase used to describe positive or compassionate actions, thoughts, and feelings towards ourselves. Although self-love may sound simple, putting it into practice is much more difficult. Many of us are in a pattern or habit of being critical and demanding upon ourselves. We are out of shape, we don’t make enough money, we are not beautiful enough, we are not smart enough, etc. The list of ways we use to belittle or judge ourselves is endless. Sometimes we are our biggest critic and the hardest to please. Maybe guilt and shame from our past looms over us like a black could. We say to ourselves, “I’m an awful parent/spouse/friend”. The degree to which we practice self-love varies, but for most of us it is generally very unfamiliar. In this post I will discuss how to begin practicing self-love and what mental and emotional benefits will follow. It is never too late to learn how to treat yourself with the love and compassion you deserve.
Practicing Self-Love Techniques
One of the best ways to start bringing self-love into your life is to practice positive self-talk. Contrary to thinking negative thoughts about yourself, positive self-talk is telling yourself helpful and rewarding things. If you have been judging or harsh on yourself for years, this can feel fake or forced. Like most things, an attitude of ‘fake it til you make it’ can lead into an authentic practice. It can be as simple as looking in the mirror and naming all the physical qualities that make your beautiful or unique. Tell yourself throughout the day that you are deserving of all the blessings you receive. If you believe in a higher power, think of the love that he/she has for you and how wonderful you must seem to them. Practicing positive self-talk can change the way we think about ourselves, do not underestimate how important the way we talk to ourselves is.
Another simple way to incorporate self-love is to write gratitude lists. A personal gratitude list is different than a gratitude list for your blessings. A self-gratitude list is when you search for and acknowledge all your positive traits, qualities, and aspects. For instance, it could include “I am grateful for my long hair, my sense of humor, my intelligence, my ability to comfort people, etc.” Recognize the great unique things that you were born with or inherited. When you practice noticing and acknowledging your positive qualities, you begin to make your self-worth a reality.
Lastly, self-love can be increased by practicing self-care. This is about taking time out of the day to relieve stress to our body and mind. Self-care of our body can be as simple as keeping ourselves nourished, exercising daily, and getting enough rest each night. Taking care of our mind is equally important. This includes things such as reading your favorite books, listening to your favorite music, or something creative that you enjoy. Self-care is about understanding your body and your mind’s needs and taking actions to meet those needs. Doing this can ease daily stresses and strains. When we make our personal needs a priority, we are enjoying and loving ourselves.
Benefits of Self-Love
When we start to incorporate self-love in our lives the benefits become apparent. Learning to love ourselves can dramatically change the way we feel about ourselves and the way we think others perceive us. We can notice a change in confidence in groups and a sense of calmness in our relationships. We no longer feel unworthy or not good enough. A strong program of self-love can help combat depression and anxiety, as well as reduce mental stress. Having self-love will protect us emotionally when disaster strikes (break-up, an illness, unemployment, etc.). We no longer have to rely upon people for approval and affection. It is empowering to know yourself completely and be proud of the person you are. Begin cultivating self-love today and see how much your life can change.