How do you feel about yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you accept yourself – including your flaws and mistakes?
What Is Self-Love?
Loving and accepting yourself can be hard. Most of us weren’t encouraged to love ourselves or taught that it’s important, but instead turn all of our attention to loving others. In fact, many of us were cautioned about being conceded or narcissistic. But self-love doesn’t lead to feelings of superiority. Self-love is a healthy appreciation and acceptance of yourself.
Unlike people who are conceited or narcissistic, people who love themselves don’t find their worth by comparing themselves to others or putting others down.
Self-love means that you accept yourself, treat yourself with kindness and respect, and nurture your growth and wellbeing. It means valuing your feelings. Taking good care of yourself. Asking for what you need. Forgiving yourself when you make a mistake. Considering what others need, but not abandoning your values and needs in order to please them. Knowing that you’re imperfect — and you still have value.
Self-love doesn’t mean you feel positive about yourself all the time. You might, for example, temporarily be angry with yourself when you make a poor decision, but your self esteem doesn’t evaporate. You still hold yourself in positive regard, care about yourself, and know that you matter
All relationships need love, respect, trust, and forgiveness – and that includes your relationship with yourself. If you don’t love and care about yourself, your emotional and physical health will suffer. You may neglect your own needs and feelings because you don’t value yourself. You may hold yourself to impossibly high standards and berate yourself for even the smallest shortcoming.
Without self-love, you’re more susceptible to codependent relationship patterns, focusing on other people’s needs and problems, even tolerating abuse or mistreatment. You’ll struggle to set boundaries, assert your needs and wants, and pursue your goals. In other words, it’s difficult to create healthy relationships with others when we don’t care about ourselves.
HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF
Loving yourself can seem like a monumental task, especially if you’re highly self-critical. But if you start with one small change (and build on that), it’s a more manageable goal. Try using some of these questions or self-love journal prompts to help you get started:
- What does self-love mean to you?
- What’s one thing you can do today to be more loving and accepting of yourself?
- What would you say to a friend or family member who is struggling to love him/herself?
- How can you encourage others and yourself to be more self-loving?
- Are you making time for your interests? Are you prioritizing your goals? Are you living in harmony with your values? If not, how can you do more of this?
- How can you be more authentically yourself?
- When you were a child, what do you wish someone had said or done to give you comfort, confidence, and the ability to love yourself? How can you do this for yourself now?
- What holds you back from loving yourself?
- What do you need to stop doing in order to love yourself more?
- When you make a mistake, how can you show yourself compassion? What will you say or do?
SELF-LOVE TAKES PRACTICE
Even if it’s difficult to love yourself right now, don’t give up. Think of it as a muscle that will get stronger the more you exercise it. Every day, try to say or do one more kind thing for yourself. It all adds up and eventually, you’ll be treating yourself better without even thinking about it.