Self-love: 5 ways of practicing it
Practicing self-love sounds simple and obvious, especially when we are saying this to someone else. Loving ourselves is basically a way to accept what we are, to make an effort to treat ourselves with kindness. But, why is it so difficult to be nice to the person we see in the mirror?
The obsession with perfection, behaviours such as comparing ourselves or the need for external approval... There might be many causes for this behaviour that end up creating problems related to our perception of other people.
When we do not strengthen our self-love, ironically narcissism may appear (it may seem like they love themselves too much but studies show a low self-esteem in narcissists) or on the contrary, we feel dissatisfied with who we are, we become dependent on others and can be easily manipulated.
Self-love and love towards others
Self-love comes with facing what we dislike the most about ourselves. This starts with recognising we all live with our demons, those traits of our personality (or our appearance) that we do not like. We have difficult stories that are part of ourselves and we may often regret. We should accept that all those negative aspects are also part of ourselves. They contributed to who we have come to be today. They teach us a lot. Individual Therapy can help you work on your self-acceptance.
Loving others is easier, we don’t see the same mistakes in others that we see in ourselves, we always tend to be hardest on ourselves. If we do not know how to love ourselves, it is not possible for us to truly love with all of our heart. When there is self-love there is no unhealthy attachment, no dependence.
Instead of rejecting or forcing us to love what we do not like we should simply try to understand we are all humans, and part of life is that growth towards becoming better humans. If you practice self-love, you make healthier choices and build healthy relationships, whilst at the same time surrounding yourself with people that support you and promote self-love in your life. You are also loving towards yourself when you make mistakes, when you feel sad, angry, disappointed, fearful...
Self-love and self-esteem, what's the difference?
Self-esteem refers to one's level of satisfaction with oneself and it is more specific to what you appreciate about yourself. Self-love is much deeper. It is about accepting ourselves as we are. Unconditionally, without the need to hide or disconnect from our "faults". If you feel like reading more about self-esteem please have a look at my post about Self-esteem and sexuality.
5 tips to practice self-love
- Acknowledge and accept your flaws. Be conscious about your strengths and work to improve your weaknesses, no one is perfect and we came to this world to learn and experience progress. It is a game-changer for any challenge when you manage to focus on your skills. When we recognise ourselves as we are, instead of judging or reproaching ourselves, our life becomes much more enriching.
- Stop comparing yourself. Nothing is worse for your confidence than to measure your life using someone else's rules. Comparing ourselves to others allows others to drive our behaviour. Life is not a competition, we all achieve different goals; each one has different timings.
- Practice gratitude. We are more open to accepting situations when we are thankful for what we have, this helps to shift our mind and energy around what’s currently happening. When you are grateful for your reality, self-love becomes natural. You begin to see the blessings around you, and this includes the blessing that is your own existence.
- Commit to your goals and dreams. When you know you are doing your best to make your dreams come true you are more aware to be supportive of yourself and others. No matter if you succeed or not, knowing that you are doing your best is your first and most important reward.
- Make positive affirmations part of your daily routine. Tell yourself how beautiful and smart you are, how much you deserve to succeed in that dream you have been working so hard on.
A lack of self-love becomes an enemy to our goals, there is no other way to achieve what we seek than being confident that we have everything necessary to make it. We do not need to love everything we are to develop self-love; all we need is acceptance and commitment to our process, to learn, and to try to be our best version every day. It's also knowing that if we do not achieve a goal we set, it's ok. If some days we´re not at our best, it's ok. It's all part of life, we learn from these experiences and use these lessons in the future. They may help us achieve a different goal one day, far more worthy.
Self-love is not about feeling unbreakable, but remembering you can fail. Keep in mind no matter how hard you break you are going to stand up again. Contact me anytime you feel like you want a professional opinion and individual therapy, and check my social media @lovemindtherapy to learn some tips about working on your self-love.
Remember: We are all perfectly imperfect, just the way we are.