Self-love is a term that is often thrown around even in normal conversation. You have likely heard:
“You need to love yourself more.”
“Why don’t you love yourself?”
“You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first.”
Sayings like these are exhausted when it comes to giving people suggestions on ways to live a more fulfilling life, ways to have more confidence, ways to be more successful, or ways to feel something other than what they are feeling.
But when we talk about self-love in instances such as this, do we actually understand what we are talking about?
Let’s dive a little deeper into this sacred and fragile topic of how to self-love.
What is Self-love?
Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good; it is an action. Self-love is a choice. It is a way of relating to yourself that involves being understanding for your mistakes, understanding in your losses, and being able to effectively communicate with yourself about life without harshly judging or punishing yourself.
Research has shown that learning how to self-love is associated with:
- Less anxiety and depression
- Better recovery from stress
- An overall more optimistic outlook on life
- Better adherence to healthy behaviour changes
In short, self-love is how you view yourself and how you treat yourself.
Why is Self-Love Important?
Learning how to self-love is important to living happier and healthier in every aspect of your life. It influences who you pick to be your mate for life, the image you project at work, how you accomplish your work, the way you raise your children, the way you interact with those around you and the way you cope with the problems in your life.
Why You Might Be Lacking Self-Love
Low self-esteem or lack 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 negative behaviours that can be attributed to a lack of self-love, according to the National Association for Self-Esteem:
- Earlier sexual activity
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- 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 low self-esteem due to a lack of self-love is not an accurate reflection of reality, rather a reflection of your perception on reality.
Tips to Learn How to Self-Love
While self-love is not necessarily innate, it can be taught. Here are some helpful tips on how to self-love today:
Recognise How You Are Feeling
You’ve probably heard the cliché saying that “the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one.” Well, one of the first steps to learning how to self-love is kind of similar – it is becoming aware of yourself.
We all feel a variety of emotions throughout our life – sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, happiness, and more.
When something is off, it is important to take a moment to recognise how you are feeling at that moment and why.
Why are you sad? Why are you angry? Why are you happy?
In self-love, you must be mindful so that you can begin to shift any negative state that is involved in those feelings.
Accept How You Are Feeling
While there is nothing wrong with feeling any of the emotions we mentioned or others, it is important that once you recognise your emotions you can accept them.
Whether you want to feel it or not, the feeling is there. Take a moment to pause and sit with that feeling.
Now, scan your body to see where you feel it.
Think About Your Feelings from an Outsider’s Perspective
How would you feel if you saw a loved one experiencing the feeling you are experiencing at that moment? Then, think about how you might encourage them to proceed.
What is funny about life and our brains is that we treat ourselves entirely different than we treat others. While we might try to enforce a positive behaviour on our friend or family member experiencing a negative emotion, we would beat ourselves up for feeling this way.
View this situation with a kind eye and be kind to yourself. Love yourself in that moment and all moments.
This self-love tip really has two points to it:
First, decide what it will take to forgive yourself for whatever the situation is.
Second, make a conscious decision to forgive yourself.
We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes, but it is important to give yourself a break. You can be your own worst enemy at times.
When you believe you have made a mistake, decide what action you can take to make it right in your own eyes. Then, use self-talk to encourage yourself to take that step toward forgiveness.
Say No to Others
Sometimes practising self-love isn’t just about speaking kindly to ourselves when we are feeling certain emotions. It can also be about taking care of ourselves when others are around.
Set boundaries. Make time for yourself. It is okay to tell people “no” if you think that you need to. Love yourself enough to make the right decision for you, not for anyone else.
Self-love is a continuous action, a continuous process, a continuous choice. You should constantly be investing in yourself by working on doing things that promote self-love.
One way to continuously ensure you are focusing on how to self-love and putting tips like these into practice is to consider seeing a psychologist regularly for support.
At Psychological Health Care, our trained clinical psychologists are experienced in things such as self-love, and as an unbiased third-party, we can more effectively assist you in your learning. Book an appointment and start your journey to learning how to self-love.
Self-love is vital to your overall well-being. Invest in your self – you matter.