“You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first,” sounds cliché enough yet holds a lot of truth. Self-love is something that appears a bit difficult for a lot of people to understand. In fact, most people have a vague idea of what self-love is.
The fact that the phrase is seemingly intuitive has not been much helpful in getting people to grasp its overall idea. There are even those who confuse self-love with being narcissistic and self-serving.
Yet, self-love is something you and I need to fully be the best we can be both to ourselves and those around us. Self-love is an essential component of developing and maintaining a healthy loving relationship with yourself and others.
You can equally view self-love as a gateway. This is because it opens the way to living a more fulfilling life, developing more self-confidence, and achieving true success in all aspects of our lives.
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.
What Exactly is Self-Love?
Self-love is a psychological concept which helps us to look inward into who we actually are with the sole aim of accepting, loving, and caring for the person we see within us. This love entails accepting everything about this person we are irrespective of any perceived flaws or shortcomings.
However, what obtains for self-love for one individual might very well differ to what someone else might consider self-love to be. As a concept, self-love is never black-and-white nor is it a one-size-fits-all idea.
Self-love is about giving yourself the time and space you need to be yourself and love who you are. And the fact is that what has to do with you is definitely personal. Only you can dictate what it is that makes you happy and thus what loving yourself might imply.
You can think of self-love as doing to yourself all the things you wish your best friends would do with you.
Put another way, it’s like you are in a relationship with yourself, and the other “you” is treating you the way you treat yourself daily. How would you score this relationship based on the way you see yourself being treated in it? Are you being loving to yourself?
To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.
– Robert Morely
The beauty of self-love is that it enables you to first take care of yourself before proceeding to take care of other people.
Self-love involves honoring what you want to do to makes you happy. Though at times this might feel indulgent, yet it has the wonderful ability to bring out the best in you.
At times this might involve you having to say no to other people in order to say yes to yourself and what is best for you.
The Prevalence of Lack of Self-Love
In general, most of us fall victims to neglecting ourselves every now and then. You need to always remember that self-love is a journey and not a destination. It is a continuous process we go through every day of our lives.
As a result, you may occasionally find yourself engaging in certain behaviors which are unloving to your person. The important thing is that despite such mistakes, you need pick yourself up and continue loving yourself.
So, how often do you find yourself engaging in the following?
- Using cruel self-talk to beat yourself up.
- Setting unrealistic expectations that you often fail at.
- Using self-sabotaging behaviors to deprive yourself of things you deserve to enjoy.
- Engaging in neglectful or harmful choices that are abusive to your body.
At the same time, a lack of self-love could be something that had been developed during childhood and carried over into adulthood. Yet, there are cases where a lack of self-love can entirely develop during adulthood.
Some of the possible reasons attributable to its development at either stages include the following:
- Actions of those around us
- Traumatic events
- Lack of exemplary self-love
- A natural way of practiced thinking
Importance of Self-Love
Self-love is something we should take as seriously as our love for other people in our lives. Most of the time, we are used to giving so much of ourselves and energy to loving those around us.
Yet, we often find ourselves giving little or no consideration to how we are feeling and doing as a person. We give out so much of ourselves that we have little or no affection left to show to ourselves.
This is why the concept of self-love is important to our well-being. The beauty about self-love is that it allows you to first be in love with yourself – the complete person that you truly are.
Then from the abundance of the internal love you’ve created within yourself, you can now more readily give full love to the people around you. It is only when you’re full of love within yourself that you can wholly and sincerely love others.
As a result, self-love has a way of impacting on the quality of your relationships, faith, work, and your future. Thus, your commitment to loving and accepting yourself through self-love has a direct way of affecting most of the decisions in your life.
A Balancing Act
The fact is that we have this source of love within us all. However, we naturally tend to focus on giving it to others around us with almost total neglect for ourselves.
But through self-love we are able to balance things up. Through it, we come to realize that we are not only worthy of loving but also worthy of being loved both by ourselves and by others. Interestingly, both conditions start from within us.
Love, connection, and acceptance are your birthright.
– Kristin Neff
The reality of the matter is that you can only give out what you have. It is from the abundance of the love you have within you that you can effectively give out to others. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Self-love thus means putting yourself first before everything and everybody else. While some people may think it is selfish, self-love is never selfish.
Truth is that nobody else is going to put you first in their lives – not even your mother or father can do that despite their love for you. It is solely in your power to put yourself first in your life.
A Debt to Ourselves and Others
Most times, I question the way we love other people and yet fail to do same for ourselves. At times I can’t stop wondering if we are simply loving others so that they can love in return.
Or is it that we so much want them to validate us and make us feel good about ourselves? Why do we go to such extent to show love to others even when it is to our own neglect?
Love yourself — accept yourself — forgive yourself — and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.
– Leo F. Buscaglia
To a good degree, loving ourselves is a debt we owe to ourselves and those around us. Thus, not loving ourselves invariably hurts others around to a certain degree. This is because it is only when we’ve come to accept and love our authentic selves that we can “truly” give and receive true love.
It is self-love that helps us to unleash the full embodiment of the love we have within us for the world to see and embrace. Thus, self-love is the prerequisite to releasing the full love we owe ourselves and the world around us.
Without self-love, it is practically impossible to continue giving to others without becoming resentful or exhausted. Self-love opens your heart not only to give but also to receive from others knowing fully well that you deserve it.
How to Self-Love
You don’t really need to be different to be worthy but it does require you to see yourself through a new self-awareness of love. Your true worth as a person actually lies in your innate true nature – a core of love and inner goodness.
Self-love is not a onetime event but more of a journey we embark on. Thus, it is an endless, ongoing process. And as a process, it requires time, dedication, energy, and devotion. Besides making it a practice, you may also require some resources.
To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.
– Alan Cohen
Determine to love yourself every day and before you know it, you’ll transform yourself into someone whom everyone always treasure.
Here are some tips to help develop self-love in your daily life.
1. Recognize The Way You Are Feeling
One of the first thing to learn about loving yourself is how to tune into and becoming aware of how you are feeling on the inside.
So, whenever something is bothering you or you are feeling a particular emotion, stop and take a moment to recognize how you are feeling at the moment.
Mindfully take time and breathe while asking yourself why you are feeling the way you are at the moment. Look for signs of what the problem is while paying close attention to your gut feelings.
2. Accept The Way You Are Feeling
Accept the reality of the feelings you’ve recognized you having at the moment. Always remember that there’s nothing wrong with feeling these emotions – they are all natural.
But while it’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling, it’s however not okay to let such feelings make you berate yourself, limit yourself, or stop you from moving forward with your life.
Face that feeling and sit with it a little bit feeling where it is in your body. If you simply feel it and acknowledge it, you’ll be surprised at the relief you’ll to come to feel. For instance, most fears simply just want to be acknowledged.
So when you are feeling down for instance, try to approach your feeling with a sense of curiosity and openness and identify the emotions(s) it evokes.
Learn to enhance your awareness of how you’re feeling and cultivate a sense of love and a feeling of goodwill toward it and then let it go.
3. Give Room for Mistakes
You should learn to love and accept yourself even when you fail in general life activities or with your self-love goals. Having self-love for yourself means refraining from criticizing and castigating yourself for a mistake or flaw.
Also, you need to avoid rehashing past mistakes and unnecessarily berating yourself for making them. Realize that you can’t change the past; the best you can do is learn from it and have a desire to develop yourself against such from happening again.
So if you make a mistake, just say to yourself “Everyone makes mistakes. I made a mistake and I feel bad about it, but it doesn’t make me a bad person.”
4. Forgive Yourself
Most times we are hardest on ourselves for things we can easily forgive others for. There are also times we hold ourselves to impossible standards and find ourselves feeling bad when can’t achieve them.
Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.
– Wilfred Peterson
To love yourself, always try to learn from your mistakes and more importantly to take actions to correct them while moving forward.
Whenever you find yourself harboring guilt or anger, try and ask yourself “What can I forgive myself for today?” There might just be something you need to forgive yourself about and let go of.
Try to always make an intentional effort to forgive yourself regardless of whatever you might have done wrong. No matter how hard it might be, it is always best to choose to forgive yourself.
5. Practice Good Self-Care
The most basic form of self-love is caring for yourself. To start a life of self-love, you need to first look at your habits and then start with self-care.
However, you need to look at what self-care means to you as a person and not what everyone is suggesting it to be.
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Truth is we all want to be healthy, yet being healthy is not a one-size-fits-all thing. The things that makes one person joyful and healthy may not necessarily be the same for another person.
Also, self-care has little to do with what you do as it is more about “why” you do it. Self-care is personal and it is not an easy-to-follow routine that is the same for everyone.
What that said, individuals with high self-love engage in daily healthy self-care activities. These include healthy activities like preparing healthy meals, regular physical exercise, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in healthy social interactions.
But while eating healthily, you don’t necessarily need to be afraid of occasionally indulging in some of your favorite foods.
6. Setting Healthy Boundaries
Part of self-love is being able to set healthy boundaries that protect and nurture your relationships, both with yourself and with others. Boundaries allow you to create time and space to love yourself.
Also realize that it is okay to say “no” to people when you believe it is in your best interest to do so. Loving yourself means being able to make the right decisions for yourself even when that means saying no to others. It is never healthy nor in your best interest to say yes just to please everyone.
7. Change Your Perspective About Your Feelings
Most times, when you feel bad, it is a red flag warning you that you need to change your perspective about something.
Can you remember a time when a family member or a friend was going through difficulties or felt bad about themselves? What did you do in that situation; how did you talk to them; and what was the tone of your voice like?
Love yourself unconditionally, just as you love those closest to you despite their faults.
– Les Brown
Often, we find it easier to console others or treat them in ways to help them overcome their difficulties. However, we largely fail to do same for ourselves when we need the same kind of consolation or treatment.
So when you are feeling “not good enough” or having a bad feeling, try to step back from it. Then, view it as though a loved one was going through that situation. Now, console or treat yourself the same way you would have done to your loved one. Thus, always remember to be kind to yourself no matter what.
A final note on self-love…
Self-love is a continuous journey requiring continuous action and a daily choice to always love yourself no matter what.
So make a commitment to love yourself today and start implementing some of the above tips in your daily life. With continuous practice, you’ll soon find yourself in love – with yourself!
Have a wonderful self-love journey!
If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Relationship Advice board to check the post later when new updates are announced.
This post was previously published on loving-relationship.com.
Improve your writing, expand your reach, and monetize your craft.
We welcome all experience levels.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com