“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with ‘self.’ You can’t find them in anyone else.” ~Unknown
Self-love is such popular term these days that it gets tossed around in normal conversation in various forms: “You have to love yourself more.” “Why don’t you love yourself?” “If you only loved yourself, this wouldn’t have happened to you.” “You can’t love another person until you love yourself first.” These are just a few of the self-love directives we give or suggest in order live a more fulfilled life.
Self-love is important to living well. It influences who you pick for a mate, the image you project at work, and how you cope with the problems in your life. It is so important to your welfare in order to know how to bring more of it into your life.
What is self-love?Is it something you can obtain through a vanity makeover or new clothes? Can you get more of it by reading something inspirational? Or, can a new relationship make you love yourself more? The answer to all of these questions is a big NO. Although they feel good and are absolutely gratifying, you can’t grow in self-love through such activities.
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 even spiritual growth. Self-love is so dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths in a much better way. We have lesser need to explain our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning. We are more centred in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfilment through our own efforts.
If you choose just one or two of these self-love actions to work on, you will definitely begin to accept and love yourself far more. Just imagine how much you’ll appreciate you when you exercise the 10 steps to self-love. It is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise all of the actions of self-love that I describe in this article, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way. The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relating. Even more, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Why self-love is important and how to cultivate it
For many people, the concept of self-love might conjure images of tree-hugging hippies or cheesy self-help books. But, as many psychology studies attest, self-love and -compassion are the key for mental health and well-being, keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself that does not involve harshly judging or punishing yourself for every mistake you make, or every time someone does better than you. Self-compassion shows that it is associated with:
Less anxiety and depression
Better recovery from stress
Better adherence to healthy behaviour changes, such as exercise or diet
To become more self-compassionate yourself and shower yourself with self-love, try to follow these 10 steps:
Practice superb self-care.
Get enough sleep to feel revitalized; attend a yoga class or go for a run; fill your fridge with healthy whole foods; drink plenty of water; and schedule in time for fun, adventure or relaxation. Value yourself enough to make self-care practices a regular part of your routine.
Recognize that you are experiencing an emotional distress or even mental suffering.
Adopt a mindful attitude in which you deliberately pay attention to your inner experience so that you can notice when you are beginning to shift into a negative state.
Accept completely that the feeling is there.
Make a conscious decision to sit with whatever negative feeling is there and try to accept it—If it’s a negative thought, look for the underlying emotion (anxiety, sadness, or anger), or scan your body to see where you feel tension or discomfort. You may feel it in your chest, belly, shoulders, throat, face, jaw, or other areas.
Make use of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
This is a healing tool where you tap on specific parts of your body while repeating a mantra or affirmation. If you’re feeling anxious or self-critical about a particular issue or problem, you can use EFT to release your negative emotional energy and re-establish inner calm and peace.
Use the mantra, “Even though I (insert your problem), I deeply and completely love and accept myself”.
Imagine what you will feel if you saw a loved one experiencing this feeling.
In your mind’s eye, imagine your loved one being scared or sad or feeling bad about themselves. Then think about what you might feel. Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Try to direct this compassionate mindset toward yourself.
Challenge the negative story you have about yourself.
If you can’t feel compassion for yourself because you feel undeserving or “bad,” try to think about this as an old story. Notice the old story of why you are bad. Now find a way to challenge this interpretation. Perhaps you experienced past trauma, or you were caught in a stressful situation then. Now make a commitment to try to learn from the experience, rather than beat yourself up with it/ over it.
Think about how almost everybody messes up sometimes.
It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up, while everyone else is a paragon of virtue. In fact, even the most successful people make serious mistakes. But making a mistake doesn’t undo all of your accomplishments and successes. We’re all works in progress.
Work on and decide what it would take to forgive yourself.
If your behaviour hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through addictive behaviour, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely, make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin to act differently.
Be your own life coach.
Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, gently guide yourself in a positive direction. You may ask yourself what led to the destructive behaviour, whether it’s really what you want to be doing, and what the consequences are. Tell yourself that you have other choices, and it’s never too late to change.
Keep in mind the common humanity you share with everyone.
There is a common myth in our society that there is such a thing as ‘perfect’ and we should all strive to be it. The truth is we are all human, flawed and prone to making mistakes as we navigate the world and learn and grow from our experiences.
Realize you’re not the only one who feels vulnerable, insecure and self-critical at times. We’re all fighting our own demons and trying to do our best. By remembering your common humanity you immediately take the pressure off yourself and no longer feel so isolated and alone.
Self-love is the prerequisite for complete immersion in the abundant flow of light and love in the world around us. Self-love is a journey. It takes dedication, devotion, and practice. Resolve to love yourself each and every day and watch your best self blossom and your greatest life unfold! Self-love is an exponential force.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
(Article by Trishna Patnaik – a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice.)