“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”Buddha
Self-love is a term many of us have heard of, but how many of us actively practise loving ourselves? Whether you have experienced a difficult childhood with little love from parental figures or you suffer from low self-esteem, this read is for you. With 1 in 4 British people reporting that they do not like themselves, it is perhaps more important than ever that we learn about how we can incorporate self-love into our lives[i].
No matter how much you struggle with self-love, there is a silver lining; we can learn to love who we are and show up for ourselves, even as adults.
In this guide, you’ll be introduced to self-love alongside advice on how to like yourself, and ways to harness better self-love and thrive in your life.
Learning to love ourselves isn’t always a linear process. Like any new habit, it requires being committed and practising it frequently. However, with the right attitude and techniques to hand, you’ll be on your way to a more confident and happier you in no time.
Self-love is the act of appreciating yourself on a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level. While self-love carries various definitions, many people agree that the term is centred on having high regard and respect for yourself.
People who have self-love actively practice taking care of themselves and their wellbeing. This often involves dedicating time to participate in feel-good activities.
Of course, self-love is different for everyone though many individuals find common ground in how they practice.
From meditation to physical exercise, there are many ways in which you can show love to yourself.
Above all, self-love means putting yourself first and not compromising on your well-being for the sake of others.
Self-love is incredibly important, but many people fail to recognise its importance. In everyday life, we face many stressors ranging from toxic work environments to interpersonal relationships.
When we are in touch with ourselves and the love we have for our mind, body, and spirit we reduce the chances of burnout or a poor mental state from occurring.
Self-love also helps us to make the right choices in life and nurture our well-being in the long term. Those that practice self-love techniques regularly tend to be more positive and create better circumstances for themselves as a result.
The ultimate way to like ourselves begins with love. Love is a powerful emotion that we often connect to relationships with others. Instead of looking outwards for love, practicing self-love pushes us to look inwards. We all have a great capacity to love, however, sometimes certain experiences in life can hold back our ability to connect with this love.
When we make sure to dedicate time to appreciating who we are, our individuality, and our qualities we will naturally foster a greater sense of love for ourselves. Self-love practice also helps us to hold more space for other people in our life, directly and positively impacting the way we love others too.
If you’re unfamiliar with self-love, there are numerous ways you can practice including:
- Mindfulness techniques
- Affirming boundaries with others
- Ensuring good self-care
- Establishing healthy habits
- Positive mental affirmations
- Developing compassion for yourself
In the next section of this guide, we’ll go into more detail about each point to help you gain a better understanding of how to practice and familiarise yourself with self-love.
How To Like Yourself
Learning how to like yourself can take some time, so it is important to try not to rush the process. Many people who struggle with self-love find that they have to seek therapy treatment due to the complex nature of their low self-esteem.
If you feel that you have additional issues which contribute to your lack of self-love, we advise seeking help from your GP or a professional therapist. For those that simply require some advice and general tips on how to like yourself, read on:
Many of us are very tough on ourselves. When we make mistakes or act in ways we may come to later regret, we’re often filled with negative self-talk.
By lowering our expectations of ourselves and accepting that all humans are inherently flawed, we can create a more compassionate attitude where we foster understanding and love towards ourselves.
You may want to start by lowering your expectations tied to something that affects you daily, such as work. Perhaps you’re quick to criticise yourself if you make a minor mistake – now is the time to stop.
Everybody makes mistakes, everybody can say or do upsetting things. The key to greater self-love is, to begin with accepting this and forgiving yourself when said mistakes happen.
You’re only human after all!
How well do you know yourself? Ask yourself again. Do you know yourself? Getting to know who you are is going to help in your journey to greater self-love.
You might know who you are on a basic level, but it’s time to dig deeper. By getting to know yourself on a greater level, you’ll be in a position to love yourself more.
Journalling and meditation can be excellent ways to do this as we connect with our thoughts and emotions to understand ourselves.
Positive affirmations are a great way of practising and establishing better self-love. It’s no secret that when we replace negative thoughts with positive counterthoughts, we will feel happier.
Should you find your mind automatically deter to negative and critical thoughts about yourself, try and counteract this with a positive affirmation. For example:
You may think: “I’m so stupid, I can never do anything right”, accept the thought but then change it to a positive thought like: “I made a mistake, but I forgive myself and love myself”.
You can also practise positive affirmations by writing them out each morning or evening and saying them out loud to yourself.
Here are some good self-love affirmations to help you get started:
- I accept myself as I am
- I love myself deeply
- I choose to care for myself
- I am an amazing person
- I accept love from myself
- I love myself unconditionally
- I am at peace
Setting goals that we can achieve is imperative when it comes to self-love. You wouldn’t set a child up for failure, so why would you do it to yourself?
Be realistic with your goals and understand that progress is seldom linear. Instead, we may find that progress looks more up and down with hurdles to overcome as we go.
Building a strong sense of self-esteem takes time but it is worth dedicating time to. Many people struggle with self-esteem, so it is important to recognise that you are not alone in this challenge.
Choosing to build up self-esteem techniques can look like treating yourself with kindness more often, recognising and praising your achievements (whether big or small), and encouraging yourself.
Even the smallest of achievements should be celebrated and considered a win. If you usually struggle to get out of bed in the morning but managed to get up when your alarm went off one morning, praise yourself – you deserve it!
Read more: Understanding your self-image and identity
Being clear on where we stand with others goes hand-in-hand with fostering self-love. Many people can try to take advantage of us daily; from family members to colleagues, we may struggle to say ‘no’ or will simply accept poor treatment from others.
When you communicate your boundaries and affirm that you will not accept ill behaviour from people in your life, you show more respect and love for yourself.
Healthy habits go a long way and can vastly contribute to our sense of love for ourselves. When you show your body, mind, and spirit the love it deserves you’ll feel better overall and will likely increase how positively you feel about yourself.
Physical exercise is a simple act of self-love that we can commit to without any financial expense. Even low-intensity exercise from home such as yoga can do your body the world of good and help you to better connect with and appreciate your body’s capabilities.
Finally, self-compassion is self-love’s best friend. Without compassion towards ourselves, we’ll really struggle with self-love.
Mindfulness practice, meditation, and affirmations can help us to develop greater self-compassion. And, when we dedicate time to practising self-compassion we are closer to loving ourselves more.
As you’ve probably come to realise, learning to love yourself isn’t a straightforward process. With this said, it is a process that you should dedicate time and energy to in order to live a more fulfilling and positive life.
When we nourish ourselves and care for the relationship that we have with ourselves, we will see a knock-on positive effect in other areas. By dedicating the time and effort to the process it is possible to change the direction of our lives and benefit in both the short term and long term.