“Love yourself” - sounds like it should come naturally but the truth is it takes willpower and a conscious effort. To support your quest, here are 5 things you need to know about practicing self-love.
- Embrace the journey.
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Deborah Khoshaba writes:
“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.”
- Contrary to the textbook definition – self-love is not selfish!
Past experiences may have shaped the control and attention to personal boundaries. One example of low boundaries is feeling responsible for another’s happiness and guilty for our own. When accustomed to a codependent environment, setting boundaries may feel uncomfortable and foreign. It can feel as if you are pushing out the ones you love. Whether we present it to ourselves or ask for it from others, respect for time, energy and space are acts of love we all deserve. Being able to establish personal space and control over your life builds identity, self-trust and self-worth. Exercising this muscle cultivates a validation from within leading you down a path of self-actualization where external factors no longer affect your feelings towards yourself. It is an act of self-love in itself.
- Less comparing, more collaborating
It’s important to remember, we are all human and we are not alone. Another’s experience does not invalidate your own. Although it is a personal journey, our neighbors, roommates or significant other(s) also have their own levels of self-love and some glasses of water are fuller than others. Learn what you can from the struggles and triumphs around you. Make observations, take notes and consider adopting some practices that elevate your feelings towards yourself.
- Interrupt your regularly scheduled programming and forgive yourself
Naturally, we have all had certain life experiences that either intensified or depleted our self-worth and affected our inner dialogue. Negative self-talk may run rampant without the proper attention. Recognizing it may not come naturally. Self-deprecating remarks often in comedic form are pretty successful in generating laughs. In a way, it allows us to make fun of our faults without taking ourselves too seriously. Openly discussing our mistakes and imperfections can be healthy, but it can veer too far into self-hate mode if left unchecked. Throw some affirmations, achievements or things to be proud of in your normal conversation. If it feels uncomfortable talking about yourself, start the habit of saying something positive or optimistic about someone else. Staying present and mindful in balancing your thoughts may help to break certain patterns. Establishing a mindful meditation practice is one way to practice balancing your thoughts. Rewriting your internal dialogue takes focus, attention and accountability. Stick to it and forgive yourself when you falter then watch how your external world rises to meet the level of positivity circulating in your inner world.
- Take care of yourself.
Nourish your body and mind daily based on what you need. Feeling overwhelmed, take time out for that much needed, restorative soak. Think about what you want to achieve and determine what it will take to reach your personal goals. It might entail incorporating one or several healthy activities like proper sleep, nutritious foods, stimulating conversation or intimacy (qualifies as a form of exercise, right?). At the very least, when we take care of our basic personal needs, we create an environment for self-love to flourish.
Check out the Unplugged Essentials: Self Care Strategies page to add to the 5 things you need to know about practicing self love and even more ways to unplug.