Loving ourselves is one the most important things we can possibly do to improve our quality of life. So much of our lives we spend hating ourselves – picking apart our every flaw, comparing ourselves to others, and wishing we were different.
It’s not really our faults. We get our messages about self esteem from our parents, and a huge chunk of it from popular media (and this is by design. The worse we feel about ourselves, the more money companies make by selling us clothes and products to make us more “beautiful”)
However, being constantly down on yourself is a major happiness sucker, and an extreme source of stress. Plus, it makes you very vulnerable to criticism and what other people think about you (and no matter who you are, you can’t please everyone, so this is a very fragile state to live in). Most people don’t really realize what a big deal having low self esteem really is. Probably because low self esteem has become normalized – it’s a pretty damn common occurrence in this day and age!
Think about it this way – when you hate yourself, you treat yourself the way you would an enemy. You might call that person names (at least in your head). You might make fun of that person when they fail, or if they are in any way “different” from others. And you would never do anything nice for that person, lest it make him feel good.
Now turn that around – how does it feel when you are someone’s enemy?
Sucks, doesn’t it? It’s incredibly stressful.
This constant influx of negative energy is not good for your health and happiness (and it’s really not good for your skin either, since stress is a major cause, or at least aggravator, of acne).
But, How Do You Actually Start Loving Yourself? What Do You Actually Do?
Well, the first thing you must do is start listening to your own thoughts. Your thoughts are not who you are – there’s your thinking self, and your observing self (this part is the part of you that is there between the thoughts).
With your observing self, simply notice what you say to yourself. Try to catch yourself in negativity, and ask yourself:
“Would I say this to a friend that I loved, or be this judgmental of them?”
If the answer is no, then stop. Stop and say something nice to yourself instead. Think of something that you really like about yourself, and just go “You know, I’m the best ski jumper in town. And I have great hair. And I think I’m pretty dang cool sometimes too.”
The way I like to think about loving yourself is simply treating yourself (and thinking of yourself) the way you’d treat someone else that you loved. It’s a very simple concept. You’d never want that person you loved to be treated so badly, or judged so harshly. Their feelings would be so hurt!
That being said, let me make this distinction, because you might think “yeah, but I still kinda judge my friends. I notice their flaws”. Yes, you might notice flaws, but you don’t really care that much. If your friend had acne, or wrinkles, or cellulite, or they happened to be a little obnoxious when they had one too many to drink, or if they weren’t that good at public speaking- you’d accept them as is, despite any of that.
To me, this is the essence of what “loving and accepting yourself” means. You do have flaws (you don’t have to deny that – although what actually counts as “flaws” is pretty subjective), and you’re never going to be everyone’s cup of tea (and as a perfectionist myself, I find that hard to swallow), but to someone who loves you, your flaws just don’t really matter that much.
Be someone who loves you.
Do Things For Yourself That Make You Feel Rad, Not Bad
The next thing you can do to start loving yourself is actually tons of fun.
You just start taking time (plenty of regular time) to do things that make you feel lovely and awesome and beautiful and fabulous and full of fuzzy goodness. Because you are worth spending time on!
The thing is, if you feel yucky on the inside, you will see the world as yucky too. And your thoughts will make it so – it’s rare that someone without self love does fabulous and happy things for themselves, because they don’t feel they are worth making happy. It’s a prophecy that self fulfills. (Note: This is probably one of the biggest reasons people can’t get motivated to change their lifestyle and really make a go of treating their acne naturally, or losing weight, or saving money to travel, or quitting their job and starting a business, or to do whatever they really want to do – they don’t love themselves enough to feel they are worth putting the effort in for).
However, most people still find that it feels great when someone else spends time on them and lavishes them with gifts and surprises and loveliness – it certainly does makes you feel loved – so doing that for yourself fosters your own self love. Once you’ve got some of that, it will be easier to tackle your big goals and dreams.
So anyway – what can you do in order to make yourself feel fabulous?
Well, this is very individual. What works for one won’t work for another. Maybe painting your nails makes you feel like a goddess. To me, I couldn’t care less about painting my nails. So you have to choose what you like!
Use these things to make a list – a list of all the things you can do that make you feel loved. And these are things that should not depend on you having another person with you. You don’t have to do these things alone, but you should be willing to or it doesn’t really count!
Some examples could be:
- Buying a new shirt that you’ve have had your eye on for a while
- Taking luxurious bubble baths
- Making a playlist of your favourite feel good tunes and singing along at the top of your lungs while home alone or in the car
- Make a really fancy and delicious dinner for yourself with all the trimmings
- Buying lingerie for yourself
- Renting or going to see that movie you really want to see but don’t know who to watch it with
- Going to a spa or giving yourself the spa treatment at home
- Buying art supplies and getting creative
- Finally ordering that book you really want to read
- Making a scrumptious healthy dessert for yourself
- Paying to go get a professional massage
- Going out dancing
- Making plans to go on a weekend trip to somewhere special or new
- Finally enrolling in a class you’ve been interested in
There’s so many things – those just came off the top of my head! So get creative!
Isn’t Loving Yourself Selfish?
I know, it sounds selfish. We are reminded of divas on TV who must have her way, and a yacht, and 20 diamond necklaces, and doesn’t care who stands in her path to get them.
It’s not like that at all.
It simply means that when it comes to your energy, you put yourself first. If you are constantly giving to others without spending any time on yourself, or waiting for someone else to fill you up with love and satisfaction without doing it for yourself, your energy is going to be zapped right out. Which means that you will end up sucking it from others or giving off mega bad vibes.
Loving and respecting yourself and your own abilities leads you to having more respect for others, a more positive attitude about others, leaves your heart open to care for others, allows you to pursue passions that inspire others, and it just generally makes you a happier, kinder, and calmer person.
Honestly, NOT loving yourself is more selfish!
I always like to think about those warnings on airplanes that say “In an emergency, the oxygen masks will be deployed. You must put your mask on first, and then you can help others around you”. The point being is that if you pass out because you didn’t put yourself first, then you are really no good for helping anyone else with their needs. I think that says it all!
Plus, it’s not like you have to go around announcing to the world that “I LOVE MYSELF” (although you can do that if you want! And I would suggest actually verbalizing it to your children if you have them). You can keep it quiet and just let it shine through silently. People will pick up the vibe and be drawn to it.
Self Love: You Gotta Work At It
Self love isn’t going to magically appear one day after you read this article. You do have to work at it, especially if you have a long history of un-self love and self abuse. But if you set the intention and send it out there, and really dedicate yourself to making changes in this department, you can get there!
Watch Me Talk About Self Love in Video
Do you have any suggestions about how to get on the self love train? What’s on your “love list”?