Updated: Aug 26, 2020
“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
What is Self-Love?
Self-Love in an unconditional feeling of affection, appreciation and acceptance of yourself. It means that no matter what happens in life, or what you do, you always treat yourself with compassion, kindness, understanding and forgiveness.
Why is Self-Love Important?
Self-Love is the foundation of becoming the best version of you. Self Esteem, Self-Confidence, Empathy, Compassion all begin with the love that emanates from inside of you. It is the first building block of an exceptional character. You cannot build an extraordinary life without it. Trying to will be akin to building a house on sand. You can get some headway, but it will not last. Additionally, you cannot give what you do not have. If you want to be able to truly give and receive love, you must first be able to give and receive love to yourself. As cliché as it sounds, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you don’t love yourself, then there will be nothing inside of you to give to someone else.
How is Self-Love different from Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence?
Self-Esteem comes from being proud of who you and what you do. It comes from a place of ego. This makes it much more fragile than Self-Love as can be seen when a relationship ends, or something fundamentally goes wrong in someone’s life. Their Self-Esteem is shattered. Sometimes persons then resort to self-numbing strategies such as alcoholism, emotional eating etc. Confidence comes from the Latin word to Trust. To be Self-Confident is to trust in oneself, specifically one’s ability or aptitude to engage successfully or at least adequately with the world. You can have Self-Confidence in parts of your life and not in others. For example, a person can be confident in their ability to crunch numbers, but lack confidence in their ability to give a speech. Self-Love on the other hand, is an overall acceptance of who you are as a person, despite all of your flaws, that creates an inner desire to take good care of yourself and focus on what makes you happy. Self-Love give you the resilience you need to successfully navigate through all of lives ups and downs because you are fully standing in the truth of who you are and therefore you are not easily broken.
How to Move into Self Love
Tame Your Inner Critic - We all talk to ourselves in our minds, but we are not always fully conscious of that voice, therefore the first step is to become conscious of your inner voice. What is it saying? Pay particular attention to what you tend to tell yourself most often. What do you say when something amazing happens, as well as, when things don’t work out. Let's try an exercise! Keep a note pad and a pen next to you or you can open the notes section on your phone; every time you think something negative write it down. Try to do it for an entire week. When you are finished, I want you to look back on everything that you have written down. It is stunning the negative recordings that we have on repeat in our heads without being aware of it. Those thoughts playing in your head, have been there your whole life. You may not have been aware of it, but the truth is, that you’ve been feeding yourself these messages for years, and the more we hear something, the more we believe it. The result is that all those negative thoughts of yourself have become your deeply held core beliefs about yourself! But what if you can change that? I’ve found it useful, when helping others to change the tone of their inner voice to do the following exercise: imagine someone is talking to your best friend, or if you are a parent, to one of your children and they repeat the exact words you are saying to yourself, except that it is now directed at your loved one; how would you react? I wager you will step in and defend them. Therefore, the real question is, why are you accepting less for yourself? From now on, every time you think something negative, write it over into something positive. Re-framing it will over time help you to remain in a more positive frame of mind. When that happens you will see your relationship with yourself and others will change, the quality of your life will improve and opportunities will come your way. When things do not work out, you will find yourself being more resilient and less overwhelmed by it. You will have a different life!
Treat Yourself with Kindness - You are deserving and worthy of everything good. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; You may make mistakes along the way, or things may not work out as you had planned but that does not mean that you are a failure or a loser or any other negative name you can come up with! No matter what happens in your life, you matter! Be kind with yourself. Accept everything about yourself without judgement: the good, the areas that are a work in progress and the in-between. Know that you are valuable and choose the words to reflect that!
Practice Self-Care – Show yourself love physically and emotionally. What do you do when you love someone? Love is both a feeling and a verb. It is just as much about feeling as it is about doing! Self-Care is doing something loving for yourself. Think of all the things you enjoy and do them with yourself. It’s time to become your own best friend! Stop depriving yourself from doing things that you like and that make you happy. Give yourself permission to do things you enjoy! You don’t always need to do things that make sense or that build your career; spending time doing things just because you like them are just as important! Some examples of Self-Care: Having a coffee date with a friend, Read your favourite book, Go on a movie date with yourself, Cook yourself a delicious meal, Dance around your Living Room, Go for a walk. The more you practice acts of self-love, the stronger message you send to yourself: “You deserve it”.
Create Healthy Boundaries - A boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person. The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is to protect and take good care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Poor boundaries can negatively affect someone’s life since it can lead to resentment, anger, stress and burnout. The key to setting healthy boundaries is figuring out what you want from your various relationships, establishing a threshold based on these desires and communicating clearly with other people about these boundaries.
Know When to Ask for Help – For many of us, asking for help triggers a deep fear of not being good enough and of being a burden to others. That is just not true! No man is an island and it is impossible to get every single thing that needs to be done on our never-ending lists without help! Accepting help gives you the opportunity to build better relationships by building trust and appreciation. It also opens you to other points of view and possibly a different way of doing things opening you up to a different mindset.
Let Down Your Walls and Let the Love In – Letting love in means taking your guard down and allowing others into your life. This leads to feelings of vulnerability, which for many is a very scary feeling. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable, is acknowledging that you may get hurt, knowing that everything could go wrong, knowing that love between imperfect people will undoubtedly be imperfect, but choosing to love all the same. Vulnerability is sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, insecurities and letting the other person hold space for you and vice versa. It is about sharing your past experiences, both good and bad. It is trusting when you are scared to and when you are not sure that you should. It is believing the person when they say they love you and allowing them to demonstrate that love and showing them love in return. Let love in from the various sources of love: spiritually, romantically, family, friends. It will be worth it!