I don’t know why, but for some reason loving myself has always felt harder than loving and appreciating others. It is easy for me to find fault in myself where in others I would consider the same quality a lovable quirk rather than a cripplingly unattractive imperfection. I am my own worst critic and if perfectionism has taken hold of any part of my life, then my ability to love myself is being held in the strongest grip yet. I truly believe that love is the force in life that makes the world go round, and that it is impossible to truly – deeply – authentically – love someone else unless we first love ourselves. So, lately I have been reflecting on the meaning of self-love and how it comes to be. How is it fostered, and how does it grow? Although I have much to still learn about this, and although the following list is in every way incomplete, I wanted to share a few steps that have helped me rediscover and grow greater self love. Perhaps I am writing this list more as a reminder to myself than anything else, but if it can reach someone else out there and help a soul, then all the better.
1. Spend time with yourself
Love at first sight might be possible, but it is not probable, and chances are that in order to truly grow a deep and lasting love for someone, you must spend time with them. It is no secret that growing love for someone usually takes time, and the same way that spending time with friends and family is necessary to foster a healthy relationship, spending time with yourself is also crucial. Some ways that I have enjoyed spending time with myself lately includes writing in my journal, cooking a small snack and enjoying it in bed, watching my favorite TV show on Netflix, going for a walk outside, etc. Because often we get so accustomed to being around other people, having alone time might feel uncomfortable or unusual at first, but it is so important and crucial to be able to sit down alone and feel content with the company that you hold with yourself.
2. Recognize your accomplishments
Oftentimes I find myself at the end of the day reflecting on all of the things I didn’t get done, or could have done better. Although constructive criticism is essential to growth and development self-loathing is not. Even though it can be hard sometimes, taking some time at the end of each day to recognize the things that I did get done and did well instead of those things that I didn’t do or failed at is absolutely crucial! I have found that doing this floods my mind and heart with positivity and gratitude for myself instead of disappointment in myself. Sometimes these accomplishments that I celebrate are as small as “I made the bed today!” or “I was exhausted but still went for a walk to enjoy the fresh air.” The important thing is not what you did, but that you are recognizing those things that you did do, and that you are focusing on your strengths rather than your shortcomings.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Over the years I have realized how incredibly difficult it can be not to compare myself and measure my own self-worth against the worth that I believe someone else has. Several years ago now a friend shared a quote with me that has stuck in my mind and that often comes to remembrance when I fall into the trap of comparison; “Don’t compare your off-stage performance with everyone else’s on-stage performance.” I adore this quote, because not only does it remind of the fact that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but it also brings into awareness the idea that we, as people, are all performers. We decided how and when we want to expose ourselves to the world; we perform our selves and our roles every day when we are socializing with others. Only when we decide to allow ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable in our imperfection does our true identity with all of our struggles and short-comings shine through. But most people don’t get to see that part of us. Everything we see about other people is what they choose to perform for us. So, I find it helpful to remember that self-worth is not measured against someone else’s, and there is no universal standard of success that we can compare ourselves up against.
4. Don’t take discouragement personally
Sometimes even though we are trying our best to love and appreciate ourselves for who we are, someone else might end up saying something hurtful or offensive. I suppose this is more a question of when it will happen than if, so when that happens try to not take it personally. People usually act as mirrors, and if someone is being negative or discouraging, chances are that they are feeling negatively about themselves and that what they are saying in reality is not directed towards you at all. I try my best to remember this when others around me might seem negative and discouraging.
5. Take care of yourself
This might seem like a really obvious step to take if on the path towards greater self-love, but I find that it is one of the first ones that I forget to do. Oftentimes I get so caught up in to-do lists and overwhelming amounts of tasks that I believe I must accomplish, and other times if I don’t have events that force me out of the house everyday I will roll into near apathy and lounge around in pajamas and a messy top-knot all day. Either way, the first sacrifice made is usually that of taking care of myself; exercising, getting dressed, journaling, eating healthy and generally just taking time in the morning and throughout the day to take care of myself. Many of these tasks- getting dressed, fixing my hair, doing my make-up (or not), and so on- are opportunities to show self appreciation and love. And honestly, although I am in no way opposed to the occasional lazy day in bed, I usually feel a lot more confident about myself when I exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, etc. It is a lot easier to love yourself if you feel good about yourself.
So those are some of the steps that I have been trying to follow to grow my self-love. Although, as I mentioned above, this list is incomplete and although there are thousands of ways that you can grow and develop self-love, these are some of the steps that really have helped me. I would love to know in the comments down below what has helped you grow greater self-love! Let me know!
Check out the accompanying video I made:
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