Loving yourself is important. You can’t love others until you love yourself. Here’s how to love yourself in 8 easy steps.
Let’s be honest for a moment —the past two years have thrown a wrench in every part of our daily lives. We’ve lost jobs, homes, and loved ones, and it feels like life has been one big test of our strength and resilience. It’s possible that learning how to love yourself and fulfill your personal needs has taken a backseat.
The art of self-love is especially complex for women, many of whom have the dual responsibility of caretaker and breadwinner despite the added challenge of a global pandemic. Yet, despite all of the challenges we’ve faced, there is still one thing that we can always control: how we treat ourselves.
But even self-love can be convoluted if you aren’t wary.
Companies and influencers jump at the bit to sell self-love quick fixes in neatly wrapped boxes every time you scroll through social media or turn on your television. Yet learning how to love yourself is so much more than positive mantras, aromatic bubble baths, and pretty manifestation candles. Such small tokens are aesthetically pleasing, but they miss the mark and cultivate toxic positivity that does more harm than good.
Self-love cannot be bought, posted, or mood-boarded. To truly practice self-love, you have to be prepared to address the more complicated reasons why many women fail to see their own self-worth.
The Real Reason Women Struggle with Self-Love
Learning how to love yourself is a journey that illuminates the disheartening realities women face in society.
Women who find it difficult to practice self-love are not broken, they are not defective, and they are not crazy. Rather, the challenge of knowing how to love yourself is rooted in three common experiences that all women collectively share:
- Unrealistic Social Expectations
- Traumatic Experiences
- Systemic Discrimination
Many women must simultaneously navigate the murky waters of all three of these beasts, but there is hope.
Knowing how to love yourself is an act that requires daily practice and intentionality. In the same way you might build time into the day to maintain spiritual rituals or workout routines, you need to create time dedicated to self-love. There’s no defined finish line, but rather, self-love is an action meant to be maintained.
How to Love Yourself: The Art of Pure and Meaningful Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is often misunderstood or ill-defined in conversations about how to love yourself, so let me make its meaning crystal clear. Self-compassion is multidimensional, and though its definition shifts based on the needs of individual women, these are the essentials.
- Accept yourself as you are.
You may have a distorted view of what it means to be successful, beautiful, or worthy — and that’s not your fault. Society is brutally unforgiving regarding the outrageous standards outlined for women through the commercialization of femininity.
Counter the false narratives of what it means to have value by reflecting on the infinite goodness you bring to your world. Just by nature of existing, you are deserving of love and have every right to be as you are in your truest form. Reflect on who you are as your most authentic self, and celebrate every piece of her.
- Know that you are worthy.
You inspire people around you, whether you know it or not, so keep that in mind as you figure out how to love yourself more fully. You bring joy, love, and meaning to the world. Practice actively expressing and accepting yourself in your most authentic state of being and enjoy the freedom that comes with letting go of unattainable standards of existence.
Let go of the need to prove yourself. Oppression and trauma have a way of tricking you into believing you have to prove your worth to the world — but you don’t.
- Forgive yourself for the things you can’t control.
There’s no sense in holding onto regret or guilt from chapters of your life that have long since passed. Studies suggest that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders that lead to compulsive and catastrophizing thought patterns. In short, the tendency towards anxious thinking leads to festering feelings of guilt and self-blame, so learning how to love yourself is essential for your mental health.
The trick is to regain control over your inner dialogue. When it comes to instances of failure or loss, stick to the facts. Anxiety has a tendency to misguide our thinking. It creates smoke and mirrors that invite self-blame where none is warranted. Catch yourself as you start to fall into the rabbit hole of self-blame and intentionally guide your thinking away from it.
- Make time for the things that bring you joy.
This one will be uncomfortable when you realize it means telling others no. Learning how to love yourself requires pruning time-wasting duds from your garden. The one thing that no one can ever get back in life is time, so reflect on who and what you choose to give it to.
Setting boundaries with your job, family, and friends will enable you to spend more time on the things that matter to you. You’ll also find that when you make time for things like reading, journaling, and pursuing your hobbies, your cup will overflow with the good vibes needed to power through difficult times.
- Let go of things that no longer serve you.
Start by looking at the habits you’ve grown most comfortable with. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s helping you practice self-love. For example, hitting up happy hour multiple times a week might seem enjoyable on the surface, but when you realize it’s draining your energy and your wallet, you may want to find new ways to unwind.
Likewise, reflect on the people you allow to exist in your life. No matter how much you may want someone to treat you better, you can’t control how other people conduct themselves. Sometimes, people you’ve allowed space for in your life turn out to be toxic. At first, letting go of someone you’ve built a relationship with may feel like a loss. However, once you experience life without the burden of toxic relationships, you’ll feel entirely liberated, and you’ll be one step closer to learning how to love yourself the right way.
- Be patient with yourself.
There’s a thought trap that’s easy to fall into if you aren’t looking — mistakenly believing you are supposed to be perfect. Wherever you are at this point in your life is fine. Your setbacks, failures, and unexpected detours are all part of the journey. Your mistakes are a critical part of your life because you would never learn to grow without them.
When you learn how to love yourself, you are more likely to achieve your goals. This is because confidence and self-esteem come from within, and they can be strengthened with practice.
- Stop worrying about what others think of you.
One of the quickest ways to kill your self-esteem is by caring too much about what others think. If you’re always looking for validation from those around you, it won’t be easy to find contentment within yourself.
Confidence comes from within, so focus on honing your own opinion of yourself. Rather than comparing yourself to others, focus on your own unique qualities and strengths. When you learn how to love yourself for who you are, others will follow suit.
- Actively build your self-confidence.
As you start taking control of time and self-perception, you’ll see opportunities to grow confidence. Find opportunities to practice confidence by speaking up, trying new things, and accepting compliments in your daily life. Confidence is a state of mind, so the more you act like a confident person, the more confident you’ll become.
Another great way to build self-confidence is by speaking kindly to yourself. Every time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, turn them around and talk to yourself as you would a close friend. Fill your mind with positive affirmations and loving words. Remember that you are worthy of love and respect, no matter what. When you believe in yourself, it will be easier for others to do the same. Learning how to love yourself teaches others how to love you, too.
- Feed your body, mind, and soul.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start taking care of your mind, body, and soul. When you make time for self-care, you are telling yourself that you matter and that your needs are important. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and body.
In addition, taking care of your soul is just as important. Make time for things that bring you joy, such as hobbies, creative pursuits, or spending time in nature. When you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you will feel more capable of taking on whatever life throws your way.
Loving yourself is a journey, not a destination. The most important thing is to keep moving forward, even when you make mistakes. Remember that you are worthy of love and respect, no matter what. If you tend to your mindset, body, and soul, you will be well on your way to a life filled with self-love and confidence. We hope that by following these tips, you will learn to love yourself more deeply and fully.