It’s an age-old cliché; “You can’t love others until you learn to love yourself”, but it’s one I fundamentally disagree with. Like many things, self love is something that may not always come naturally to everyone. I’ve mentioned before in my article Stop caring what others think of you that learning to love ourselves is the foundation of so many aspects of our personalities, and is fundamental to our self esteem, our confidence levels and our self worth.
Self love is a process, and an ongoing one at that. Like any relationship, your relationship with yourself takes time, patience and perseverance. But that age-old cliché contradicts the most important point you will ever know about self love: that you, despite your flaws, are worthy of love.
In order to get you started on your self love journey, I’ve compiled a list of 7 steps I am trying to consider in my day to day life that are helping me on my own journey to self love. They are things I need to actively practice and tell myself, but I promise they do work!
1. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small.
Take time every day to congratulate yourself for your successes, great or small. Set yourself small tasks and goals, and reward yourself with a pat on the back when you complete them. Using these small goals to build momentum toward your more long term desires will help keep you feeling positive and motivated. Small wins don’t have to be planned, either. Try to recognise when you do something well and remind yourself why and how you done it well. This can be anything from how you’ve handled a difficult situation in work, to remembering to eat your five a day. Self love will come naturally when you feel like you are an accomplished person who meets their goals.
2. Look after your body.
Anything you read about looking after your mind and body will tell you the same thing – there is no replacement for the positive effects eating right and exercising have on your body. Granted, this is one step that I am constantly failing to improve on myself, because it does take a lot of motivation to be consistent with this. Try to build it up over a period of time, integrating healthier choices into your day to day life. If you are persistent, as time goes on it’ll become second nature. You’ll build good habits and those habits will make you feel so much better about yourself.
Trying to be more mindful in your every day life will also have a really positive effect on your body. If you haven’t yet jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon, I highly suggest investing in A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax, which has been helping me really try to appreciate the little things in life, to make time and look after me – without all the technical jargon.
3. Surround yourself with good people, and be good to them in return.
Treating people how you wish to be treated is a win-win situation. Every intentional positive interaction you have with somebody will reinforce to you your own worth. Knowing that you are treating other people with respect will remind you that you are a good person. You will receive positive vibes, that can only stand to increase your own opinion of yourself. When the people you are interacting with treat you with respect and courtesy in return, it will strengthen the mindset that you deserve to be treated well, to be liked and loved.
4. Stop caring what other people think of you.
Every time you feel a little bit judged or worry that you’re the centre of people’s thoughts, consciously tell yourself that your self worth is defined by how you feel about your own actions, not by other people’s opinions of you. It’s easier said than done, but by ignoring other people’s opinions of you, you will be able to really come out of your shell. Discover who you are by forming your own opinions and style. Focussing on yourself, and not how others perceive you, will leave you feeling much more confident and comfortable with who you truly are.
If you find yourself worrying what other people think of you on a regular basis, check out my article Stop caring what others think of you for some helpful advice on building the confidence to rock who you are.
5. Take time to relax every day.
Make sure you regularly take time to focus on yourself, to let yourself unwind. Whether that’s by reading a book or having a glass of wine (though I don’t recommend doing this every day, despite how tempting it may be!), make sure you’re always spending some time on you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses of work, money and personal relationships that we can often forget to just relax. Taking time to look after yourself is key to leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on your next challenge.
6. Follow your passions patiently and persistently.
I am a strong advocate of entrepreneurialism, being self-made and following your dreams, especially professionally. We spend so much of our lives embracing our work that the term work-life balance is quickly becoming extinct. Smartphones and high speed internet keep us constantly connected and long hours and plenty of overtime come part and parcel with having a career in the 21st century. We are immersed in work, and it can be a really great and prosperous thing. But if we aren’t passionate about what we’re doing, we aren’t going to be giving it our all. That will have a negative effect on how prosperous we can really be. Find what it is that really makes you tick, and follow the path it leads you down. If you plan appropriately, apply yourself consistently and take your time with what you are doing, you can live the life you are passionate about.
7. Let go of your mistakes.
Remember that we are all human, we all make mistakes. You will always have that voice inside your head that tells you you are doing something silly. It will tell you things like you shouldn’t have said that, or gosh, remember that time fifteen years ago when you completely humiliated yourself? This voice is good, it keeps us grounded and reminds us where the line is in terms of what we should, or shouldn’t, say and do. It stops us from becoming too cocky, and keeps us humble and compassionate. But don’t let that voice get the better of you, use it as a tool to recognise where you can improve in the future. Let yourself live in the moment and enjoy the present, and you’ll learn to really appreciate yourself.