I have had a lot of people tell me lately that they think self-love is the most important factor when trying to improve their lives and be happy. I couldn’t agree more with this! But it is easy to say self-love is important and a lot harder to put any meaning behind that. It can be overwhelming and defeating when we try to put it into action.
So what is self-love? Where do we start?
To me self-love means loving yourself unconditionally. It means letting go of guilt and shame, forgiving yourself, and accepting all of your flaws. It means setting boundaries and considering what is best for you in all situations. You should be able to look in the mirror and feel proud of who you are looking at. It’s the key to unlearning the idea that thinking highly of yourself is a bad thing.
Knowing where to start can be a big problem. This is especially true if you are a person that is hard on yourself. And so I think the first step toward unconditional love for the self is just to take a deep breath and relax. You aren’t going to have everything figured out immediately. Enjoy the journey and trust the process!
Here are some things I did to try to start loving myself more…
I developed a habit of journaling. Buy a journal that you are psyched on and just write. Don’t put pressure or timelines on yourself with this. Write when you feel like it. When something is bothering you, when you are confused about something, when you get amazing news – just write it down. You aren’t writing an award winning novel; these are just your thoughts, so say what you want. Look at your journal as a trusted friend, and it won’t seem like a daunting task you are forcing yourself to do. Taking this time to sit quietly alone and get those thoughts out of your head is extremely therapeutic.
I shut down negative self talk. First, recognize when you have defeating thoughts about yourself. Don’t focus so hard on trying not to think them, and instead just acknowledge them. Tell yourself out loud that it is a lie. Remember that you shouldn’t believe everything you are told, even if they are your own thoughts. Once you begin actively acknowledging the bad thoughts you have, you are able to start controlling them. Congratulate yourself on achieving the first step toward self-awareness.
I started valuing time alone. The only way to get to know yourself, is to spend some quality time with just you. Sit alone with your thoughts, observe yourself, enjoy your own company. This is one thing that can sometimes take time to master (especially if you are an extrovert). It can be hard to confront yourself about things that maybe you’ve been avoiding. But in this journey to happiness, challenges are part of the empowerment process.
I set boundaries. If someone made me feel uncomfortable or insecure, I purposely distanced myself from them. I began re-categorizing people in my life and ranking them based on how much of my energy they deserved. Realizing love for yourself means protecting your energy and deciding that not everyone deserves to be in your space.
I got in touch with my feelings. When something would happen, I would try to understand what I felt and why I was feeling that way. This is where journaling really helps, but it isn’t required. You have to acknowledge your feelings and realize they are valid. This is the first step toward establishing boundaries with others in your life.
I read The Art of Happiness & The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. These books (while one is more humorous than the other) both teach you how to be self-reflective and more self-aware. You aren’t going to be able to master a love for yourself without enlisting some outside help, and these books are a great place to start.
I found a solid support system. This sort of goes along with setting boundaries. You have to find people that are your fans and cheerleaders. You have to find people that love you, even with your flaws – that want to see you thriving. People that aren’t 100% on your side are only going to hold you back and keep you down. My motto is: small circles and big vibes.
I hope this gave you a few ideas on how to get started on your journey. Be proud of yourself for recognizing your needs! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this topic. Share your own journey into unconditional self-love in the comments!