There’s a lot of talk these days about self-love. It sounds great, but what does it actually mean? How do we love ourselves – and why is it important?
This article will look at ways to dial down the former and boost the latter, with the conviction that doing so will help you to lead a happier, more fulfilled life.
For many people, the concept of self-love is an overblown theory and they often ignore its importance. When we talk about self-love, it is easy to picture someone reading self-help books or hugging a tree; but self-love is much more than that. A lot of studies have shown that self-love is the key to mental wellbeing and it keeps depression and anxiety at bay.
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 shortcomings, 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.
“I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don't want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It's high time that I accept all the great things about me.”
C. JoyBell C.
Why It’s Important to Love Yourself
It’s important to love yourself because of the simple truth that you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself first. When you fully love yourself, this gives you the opportunity to move through the world with deeper compassion for others. Also, you’ll have greater resilience to withstand any challenging life event or personal adversity. Depression, anxiety, stress, and the obsession with perfection, will vanish in the face of pure optimism that self love creates!
Without self-love, you’re likely to be highly self-critical and fall into people-pleasing and perfectionism. You’re more likely to tolerate abuse or mistreatment from others. You may neglect your own needs and feelings because you don’t value yourself. And you may self-sabotage or make decisions that aren’t in your own best interest.
Self-love is the foundation that allows us to be assertive, set boundaries and create healthy relationships with others, practice self-care, pursue our interests and goals, and feel proud of who we are.
“A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else.”
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
Why You Might Be Lacking Self-LoveLack of self-love is something that could be developed in childhood and carry through to adulthood. Or, it is something that could present itself solely in adulthood.
Some examples of negative behaviors that can be attributed to a lack of self-love are earlier sexual activity, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm, and eating disorders.
You might be lacking self-love for a variety of reasons or habits, as noted above. It can be because of the actions of those around you, because of a traumatic event in your life, because you lacked a good example of self-love, or simply because of a way of thinking that you innately practice. But, one important thing to remember is that lack of self-love is not an accurate reflection of reality, rather a reflection of your perception on reality.
"You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy."
Here are five Ways You Can Start to Develop Self-Love:
Value, worth or esteem. Respect yourself in the way you expect others to, and base your value of yourself on your own opinion rather than theirs.
Embrace positive energy. Unfortunately, some people have negative outlooks on life. Don't let yourself get drawn into all that toxic talk — surround yourself with those who exude positive energy and, when on your own, make sure you create daily rituals that remind you to stay present in the moment and savor the situation. Write it down in a journal, share a hilarious anecdote with a friend or simply just sit and find contentment.
Avoid social comparison. For all that we love double-tapping on our friends' Instagram photos or coming up with clever tweets, frequent social media use can result in festering resentment and the breeding of negative emotions. If you find yourself experiencing depression or decreased self-esteem while scrolling through your feed, put your phone down immediately. Instead, try to redirect some of that energy into something positive that involves focusing on your own goals and interests. Being conscious of how much social media is affecting you on a day-to-day basis is pivotal to increasing your self-love. So, be kind to yourself and limit the amount of time you spend staring at your phone.
Practice self-talk. Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are the most awful, demeaning things anyone could ever say. Instead of drilling into yourself how terrible you are or using self-defeating language, reframe—and use language that builds you up, not tears you down.
Understanding. If what you seek is not acceptance but “understanding,” then understand this: you only need to validate yourself to feel validated. And in most cases, when people are grasping for external validation, it’s because they aren’t turning inward and reassuring themselves “this is fine. you are fine.”Express gratitude. There's a plethora of strategies to help you cultivate gratitude and it can be as simple as writing a letter to a loved one or jotting down a line about something you're grateful for in a Memory Journal. After a month or two of regularly expressing gratitude to both yourself and those around you, you will notice a greater sense of satisfaction with your life.
Peace. If you want peace, give yourself peace — but you must do so not by checking out, but by taking care of things, ensuring peace not just in this moment, but in the long run.
Boundaries. It’s not anyone else’s job to define how we should be treated (and anybody’s effort at this is simply because they are being kind, not because it’s their responsibility.) It’s our job, not theirs, to set boundaries.
Find your happy place. Whether it’s the couch in your living room or a nearby café that makes a mean mocha latte, find a place where you can sit quietly and live in the present moment without interruption. Bring a book, listen to music or a podcast or simply just sit in quiet reflection. Either way, you'll find comfort and solace in having a safe spot you can return to time and again when you feel like you need your emotional batteries recharged.
Take time to meditate. Quick deep breathing can relieve stress. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. Focus your attention on the breath and on how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Read more about “How Do I Begin to Meditate”
"Loving yourself… does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion."
Self-love is vital to your overall well-being. Invest in yourself – you matter. If you’d like more ideas for practicing self-love, try this article:
P.S- You Can Combine Yoga Equipment, Meditation Music or Meditation Tools to boost and to gain more from your Yoga and meditation practice.