You may already know what self-love is, but I am going to tell you anyway it is the regard for one's well-being and happiness. Self-love is all about treating yourself with the exact same concern, support, and kindness you would show to a friend. When you are faced with obstacles or difficult life struggles self-love teaches us to respond with compassion and kindness instead of passing self-judgment, it is about recognising that imperfections are a shared human experience.
More importantly, what is self-love to me? That is why you are all here, right? Well you are in luck I am going to tell you precisely that, AND I am going to give you a guide to self-love and how to practice it in your everyday life.
What does self-love mean to me?
To me, self-love means holding high regard for your happiness and well-being. It means taking care of your own needs and not always sacrificing your well-being to please other people. Self-love means you are not settling for less than you deserve. It is very similar to self-acceptance, and it involves self-understanding and the awareness of one's own strengths and weaknesses while embracing all of your flaws because boy don't we all have flaws. We are HUMAN, or so I like to tell myself.
This guide is going to give you a way of relating to yourself that does NOT involve judging or punishing yourself for every mistake that you make or every time someone is doing better than you. Self-love is known to reduce anxiety and depression, give you more optimism, and have a better recovery from stress. It can also give you better adherence to healthy and positive behaviour changes, such as diets or exercising.
My three facets of self-love
Mindfulness: keeping an open, non-judging, curious attitude; not overidentifying with negative stories about yourself. Self-kindness: Extending the same support and care you would for a loved one or good friend while treating yourself with kindness rather than being harsh and judgemental. Common humanity: Allowing yourself to be human, make mistakes, and learn from them. Understanding that we are humans are we are not perfect no should we act or be expected to act flawlessly.
I practice and teach self-love to everyone I know; I would teach animals if I could! I am always so amazed to see how much it transforms their relationship with themselves and how it promotes healthier ways of living. Self-love is proven to be far more effective when it comes to changing behaviour over motivation with self-criticism and shame. If you use self-criticism and shame, it will lead to your inner rebellion and cause you to give up, whereas self-love gives you hope and allows you to trust the process of change.
These are the eight self-love tips I highly recommend:
1. Recognise you are experiencing mental and emotional distress.
This is the time to adopt a mindful attitude in which you're deliberately paying attention to your inner experience so you can notice when you are beginning to shift into a negative state. The second you notice you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself stop and say to yourself, "this is a difficult moment for me," or "I'm feeling distress in my body and mind."
2. Accept the feelings are there.
You need to make a conscious decision to sit with whatever negative feelings are there and try to accept it - either way, it is there, so don't try and push it away. If it is a negative thought, search for the underlying emotion is it anxiety, anger, or stress? Scan your body and see where exactly you are feeling discomfort or tension; you may be feeling it in your throat, shoulders, belly, or other areas.
3. Picture what you might feel if you were seeing a loved one experiencing this.
In your mind's eye, picture your loved one being sad or feeling bad about themselves.Then think about how you would feel about this. Perhaps you would try to comfort them, try to direct this compassionate mindset towards yourself. If you are noticing yourself giving resistance or thoughts like "I don't deserve compassion, "acknowledge them and try to direct compassion to yourself anyway. Try asking yourself why others deserve compassion, but you don't.
4. Challenge the negative stories about yourself.
If you can't show empathy for yourself because you feel "bad" or undeserving, try to think about this as if it was an old story. Notice the old story of why you were undeserving. Now challenge this interpreation, if you acted irresponsibly, ask yourself if any circumstances influenced your behaviour. Perhaps you have experienced past traumas, or you were caught in the time of a stressful situation. Now commit to learning from this experience, rather than beating yourself up over it. Another way to challenge the story is to ask yourself if this situation is as black and white as you are seeing it, or are you being overly judgemental, are you being biased or seeing this situation from a single perspective? Are there kinder ways to view this situation? Do you expect yourself to be perfect, rather than allowing yourself to be human?
5. Think about how everyone messes up from time to time.
It is a tempting thought to think that you are uniquely messed up, while everyone else is a paragon of virtue. That is not reality, though, is it? Even successful people make SERIOUS mistakes. Making a mistake doesn't undo all of your successes and accomplishments. Humans are developing, learning beings rather than a finished product. Each of us is a work in progress.
6. What will it take to forgive yourself?
If your behaviour has hurt someone, ask yourself, what it will take to forgive yourself? Think about whether you want to make amends and apologise to the person you hurt. If it is yourself that you hurt through behaviour, ruining relationships or avoidance, make a coping plan for how to act differently the next time you are in a similar situation.
7. Use self-talk to encourage yourself.
You could say something like "it does not help to beat yourself up," or "Everyone makes mistakes from time to time." It may be a good idea to acknowledge yourself for trying even if you weren't successful. Try and tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did as well as the negatives.
8. Be your own life coach.
Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, guide yourself into a healthier and more positive direction. You could ask yourself what led to destructive behaviour, whether this is what you want to be doing and what the consequences of doing so are. It is never too late to change, so tell yourself that. Then think about a solid step you can take ASAP to move into a positive direction, or get up and try, try again! If someone else hurts you and you let them get away with it, think about setting boundaries to prevent this from happening again.
Want to know more? Subscribe to my website to get notifications each time I post!