7 Ways to Work on your Self-Love
"When you're filled with self love you make better choices."
Despite all the things that you think may be terribly wrong with you, you need to try your hardest to love yourself.
I've spent years struggling with self-love and self-acceptance, I've had very low points, especially during my teenage years, when I was very uncomfortable with who I was and I constantly felt like I wasn't enough. But after some time you reach a point where this just needs to stop. It's much easier said than done, in my case it's taken therapy, books, meditation, time, patience, basically brain-washing myself and faking it till I make it. I still struggle sometimes, I'm not going to lie, but I do believe that making a real effort pays off.
Improving your self-image, like improving any skill, takes time and practice. Developing good self-esteem involves encouraging a positive (but realistic) attitude toward yourself and the world around you and appreciating your worth, while at the same time behaving responsibly towards others. Self-esteem isn't self-absorption; it's self-respect. What we really need to do is step back and take the time to really appreciate our very existence. We need to be thankful for being who we are because in the end, whether we realize it or not, our lives are worth loving.
Today I wanted to share with you some ways to show yourself some love. These are all things I've noticed have helped me personally, and that always make me feel better when I feel overwhelmed. I hope it helps you, too!
This might sound repetitive, because everybody brings it up. However, there's a reason for that, and it's because it really does help! These small things add up to how you feel.
Try sleeping 7-8 hours per night, exercising in the mornings, (even if it's just going for a walk, it will make you feel better), eating real food and not processed crap (some of my favorites are sweet potatoes, lentils, salmon, avocado and tomatoes). I don't mean go on a diet or start restricting your food, just try and get more of these healthy items on your day-to-day! It really makes a difference. Do a face or hair mask. Put on some perfume that you love, wear your favorite, softest sweater, read your favorite book. All these little things send a message to your body that you are worthy and being cared for!
2. Learn to say No.
Set healthy boundaries for others, and don't take on more than you can handle. This shows respect for yourself, and as an added benefit helps show others to respect you, as well. While helping others is extremely gratifying, we must not get caught up trying to please others and neglect our own well being. There are times when we have to say no, and we should not take this to mean that we are “letting others down”. You shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no. You deserve to put your most important needs first.
Next time you are faced with a situation where you want to say no, explain to the other person why you cannot do it. They may be so used to you accepting that they may question you. Stick up for yourself and explain you have something else you need to do. Guilt shouldn’t come into it and you shouldn’t feel that you have to say yes. Saying no will help you boost your self esteem because you are giving priority to the things in your life which are important and you are not letting others push you around.
3. Also, learn to say YES.
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
Getting out of your comfort zone is not an easy thing, I know. But once you do it, there's so many new opportunities open to you! Step out and do something that you've been meaning to do for a long time. I mentioned before how it's important to say No sometimes, however, don't let that prevent you from saying Yes to great opportunities and chances because you're scared to say Yes. Think about it for a minute, how many times have you said no yet deep down you knew that it would be good for you? For example, it could be a social opportunity, let’s say a party. You're asked, you say no and then when the time arrives and the party is happening, you wished you were there, you have regrets missing out and tell yourself you will say yes next time. Saying yes to new experiences will increase your confidence and you will be happy and proud of yourself for this, which will help increase your self-esteem.
4. Catch your thoughts.
Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Show yourself the same kindness that you show the people that you love. Try and imagine yourself from the outside, imagine the way your loved ones feel about you, and imagine yourself that way, too. Your loved ones wouldn't want you feeling sad or hurt, would they? So you shouldn't make yourself feel like that, ever. Once, I caught my mom crying because she felt so sad and powerless at how I kept saying I hated myself, and how I couldn't see myself the way she saw me. It was very eye-opening.
It can be difficult to catch your thoughts before they start getting mean, but you can start slowly. First, learn to recognize the thoughts, you don't need to control them from the beginning. Once you recognize the thoughts and triggers/patterns that took you to that place, you can start avoiding them and changing the tune in your head, don't let yourself go there. Immediately distract yourself, talk to someone, put on a nice song or a movie, do whatever you want except for allowing your head to drown you and make you feel worthless. If you saw a person yelling insults at another person, you would probably tell them to stop. Why do you accept that behavior from yourself?
5. Focus on the Positive
Instead of focusing on what you think are your negative qualities, accentuate your strengths and assets. Maybe you didn't ace the test you were studying for, but maybe your hard work and perseverance led to a better grade than you would have had. Maybe you felt nervous and self-conscious when giving a presentation at work, but maybe your boss and coworkers respected you for getting up and trying. Instead of nagging or focusing on the negative (in yourself and others), replace your criticism with encouragement. Give constructive criticism instead of being critical ("maybe if I tried to do ____ next time, it would be even better" instead of "I didn't do that right.") Compliment yourself and those around you on what you have achieved ("well, we may not have done it all, but we did a pretty great job with what we did".) You don't need to be all things to all people or please everyone. Give yourself permission to decide you're doing the best you can. Remind yourself when you're doing things well -- don't wait to hear it from someone else.
You can choose how to interpret comments and events, so try for the more positive interpretations. If someone says, "You look good today," don't ask yourself "What was wrong with the way I looked yesterday?" Accept compliments graciously (don't ask yourself why you haven't been complemented on something else or why you haven't complemented you before.) Look at temporary setbacks as opportunities for growth.
Avoid "can't" thinking or other negative language. If you say something often enough, you may start to believe it, so keep your statements positive, not negative. Don't be afraid to seek help in accomplishing things, but remind yourself that you don't need approval from others to recognize your accomplishments. Focus on what you're able to do. Remind yourself of all your capabilities and positive qualities.
6. Show yourself some appreciation
Doesn't it feel awesome to be appreciated? A small thank you, or a pat on the back for doing a good job is always a great motivator, no matter the scenario. So, one of the best things you can do for yourself if showing yourself appreciation and encouragement! Pat yourself on the back, tell yourself how amazingly you're doing, congratulate yourself on even the smallest of victories, like getting out of bed on a bad day, or saying yes to an activity that made you anxious. Celebrate every little victory with yourself, it feels great! If there’s anyone out there you need support from, it’s you. Believe it or not, your thoughts and opinions of yourself are stronger than what anyone else in the world has to say. What you tell yourself is what you believe. And to be honest, many of us are very harsh on ourselves. It’s good to push yourself to work harder, but you should also take the time to give yourself compliments too. You deserve to take pride in what you’ve accomplished!
Take the time to remind yourself that you are the best at being you. No one could ever replace that. And without you, this world would be a darker place. This is all true for every single one of you. You were placed here with a purpose in this world. You are an original that can never be replaced. There isn’t a single person in this world that could come remotely close to who you are. Embrace your individuality; you are loved for being you. You should love yourself for the same reason too.
7. Learn to forgive yourself
Forgive yourself. It’s one of the hardest things for us to do. We hold in past mistakes and use it as an excuse to hate ourselves more. It’s time to let that go. Only you can take away dark memories from your mind and replace them with brighter ones. If you continue to hold such mistakes against you, you won’t have any room in your heart to fill in with self-love. Those memories are dark for a reason; why waste space with something that only emotionally hurts you in the end?
Forgive the mean comments to yourself, all the times you brought yourself down, all the times you said no because you were scared, and all the times you said yes because you wanted to please someone (even though it was really inconvenient). Forgive the times you've let yourself believe unkind comments about yourself, the times you've caved into the self-deprecation and felt sorry for yourself, all the times you've fallen after promising you would never fall again. Focus on the forgiveness, and on how you can always start over, you can always have a fresh start, and you can learn to love yourself unconditionally.