Your entire life is lived through your eyes: your interactions with the world and those around you, your thoughts and how you interpret events, relationships, actions, and words. You might just be another person when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to your understanding of reality, you are the only person who matters. Your reality depends on how much you love and take care of yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the most defining factor in shaping the kind of life you live.
A lot of the time we believe we do love ourselves, but our actions and reactions suggest otherwise. Self-love is essential for personal growth, and is a staple in healthy relationships with others. Instead of believing you are practicing self-love, take a step back and reevaluate how you are treating yourself and the actions you are pursuing. Before diving into 6 ways to practice self-love, it is important to understand what self-love is, how it impacts everyday life, and ways to improve your own relationship with yourself.
In a world growing more complex and demanding every day, self-love may be something you are struggling with. Society is forever changing beauty standards and what is deemed acceptable, and if you feel you do not fit the mold, it can be difficult to be confident in the person you have become. Just like the changing societal standards, self-love is not a linear process. The process of loving yourself has ups and downs with certain days being particularly hard to find yourself attractive in your own eyes. Having off days is ok and should not be taken as a sign to give up. There will be days where feelings of anxiety, loneliness, grumpiness, and tiredness can be felt, but understanding the process of growing takes time and is not an overnight feat. Ultimately, loving yourself comes down to your actions.
Self-love provides benefits to one’s overall health and esteem, but the issue is a majority of people do not know how to go about self-love. Self-love is about treating yourself the same way you would treat someone else you love with feelings and actions. The feeling of love is easily understood, but actions may be difficult to grasp. Typically actions assimilated with love are taking care of one’s needs, being thoughtful without expecting anything in return, sacrificing wants for someone’s needs, and fighting for someone you have a deep connection with. Now those examples are geared toward showing love towards others, they provide a staple for showing self-love as well.
It is important to love yourself enough to take care of your own needs. Push past your want to help others and take care of your own needs for affection, a mental health day, or give yourself the rest and relaxation you have been putting off. Be mindful of yourself and treat yourself every now and then in order to increase your own happiness. Sacrificing your needs for someone else’s needs is not love, but is a type of self-harm and could be a sign of a toxic relationship if the recipient is demanding your love to the high extent of losing your own health.
What Happens Without Self-Love?
When you lack self-love, it can be hard to truly be yourself around others. You constantly try to make yourself an image of who you believe people would enjoy, and feel as though you are lost and are not free to be yourself. Hiding parts of your personality away in order to gain acceptance and feel validated by others is called masking. When a person is masking, they can feel like a chameleon and change their personalities depending on the friend group they are around because the fear of being judged and outcast for being who they are controls their actions.
Lack of self-love can lead to an overanalysis of one’s own behavior. By compulsively analyzing your own behavior, it allows for a mask to form from watching others and trying to mimic their actions. This is problematic as you are changing yourself in order to become someone else. Part of self-love is being accepting of your own uniquenesses and understanding who deserves and does not deserve to be in your life. Someone who does not accept you for who you truly are is a toxic entity in your life and should not have a strong impact on who you are as a person. Changing yourself for someone else in any type of relationship, is a tell tale sign of unhealthy love and should be dealt with immediately.
By overanalyzing who you are and hiding parts of your personality, you can develop a strong gear of being judged by others, thus making self-love even harder to grasp. When the fear of others thoughts plays in the mind, it can make it hard to go out in public because it is hard to be confident in the way you talk, dress, and present yourself due to the made up scenarios of others thoughts. A majority of the time, people do not care about what you are doing, as they are all worried about their own selfish needs. Taking a step back and understanding people react based on their own personal experiences and needs can help you understand how not to take encounters personally because a majority of the time the thoughts we get upset about are ones we make up ourselves.
Ask yourself where the source of the hurt and fear come from because nine times out of ten, the only reason a stranger’s words hurt is because there was already a doubt in our own minds. The reality created within our mind is powerful because we believe it to be true.The same concept goes for criticism from strangers. Words do not hurt unless you believe them to be true, so self-love and truly believing in the beauty of who you are is a superpower everyone struggles with. Believing you are the immaculate human you can be is a powerful step in taking control of your own life and not caring about what others think of you.
Self-love goes further than mental health. Showing yourself self-love can be within little actions such as properly eating even when you do not feel like it or not skipping a bath. Self-harm to your body when you are not giving it the proper nutrients it needs or not practicing proper cleanliness are some of the first steps away from self-love. Starting with a little physical step you can control and working your way up to combat the bigger mental issue will allow the progress to self-acceptance and self-love to come at an easier pace because as you love yourself physically, the mental aspect will slowly follow.
Take time out for yourself in order to build your own happiness. Being there for yourself is important because without your own support, no one else can ever make you feel truly protected and loved. You will question intent and can be subtle to harmful situations because you do not have enough confidence to stand up for the respect you deserve in your life from yourself or from others, as those who lack self-love tend to settle for less.
Here are 6 ways to practice self-love and grow your confidence in who you are.
Limit the Junk Food Your Brain Consumes
When you feed your body bad food, it tends to feel sluggish, bloated, and grumpy. Similarly, your brain reacts the same way when you feed your mind garbage, thus affecting your mood.
- Reality T.V. – Reality television is not truthful and in fact is still a show needing ratings and viewers. Story lines are still made up to make the content interesting to viewers. The depiction of life can make our depictions of life distorted and make our expectations unrealistic, thus causing an increased amount of sadness and misunderstanding when we are not able to find out television reality.
- Unfollow/Unfriend People on Social Media – Negativity can follow you everywhere. An act of self-love is dismissing anyone from your social media accounts who spread negativity and do not spark joy in your life. Whether an influencer, family member, or friend, removing the hurtful posts affecting your mental health is a strong step in taking control of your own needs. Be intentional about cultivating the information you consume.
- Negative thoughts – Do not get caught up in assumptions of others thoughts and realities. Your mind will believe what you feed it, and assuming the world and everyone in it is out to get you will only increase your anxiety levels and decrease the love you have for yourself and paranoia kicks in.
Understanding your thoughts are just thoughts will have a big impact because it will help you explore negativity and natural anger. Natural anger can be utilized for good within your life as it can drive you to do better, but negativity and negative thoughts will always be the force holding you back and increase your self-doubt and worth. Being positive is helpful, but harnessing and understanding raw anger can be a weapon in productivity in life. Do not feed yourself negativity in hopes of keeping yourself angry and mad because in reality, it is doing more harm than good. The anger coming from negativity is geared towards the self and is not real anger. Knowing the difference between natural anger and negativity can have an impact on the journey of self love.
Be Intentional with Your Time
Enforce boundaries in your life, so you can plan time for what matters the most to you. Intentionally set time away for activities that make you happy and promote self-health. Not having time to take care of yourself is not a valid excuse to put your needs on the backburner. Every human needs alone time in order to be with themselves and do what needs to be done. If you set a boundary for your own needs and it is constantly getting broken, you know the individual disrespecting your boundary is a negative entity in your life and should not be given a strong hold on your journey to self-love.
Regularly scheduling time for rest and relaxation are vital in self-care and self-love. Occasionally allow yourself to have no plans in order to breath. Take naps when you feel like it, treat yourself to a dessert or spa day, and let yourself take control of activities with a positive hold on your mood.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Suppressing your feelings and disregarding them as invalid is a sign of self-harm. Just because someone has experienced worse than you does not mean your feelings are any less hurtful and invalid because you have not had the same experiences as everyone else. Understanding feelings is a human need and a way of relieving stress is important in self-love. Allow yourself to freely express everything in your life and do not change who you are otherwise you will begin to feel trapped.
Forgive yourself when it is needed. We all have aspects of our pasts we are not proud of. Maybe you feel badly about how you treated an ex, or maybe you are upset about snapping at a family member when you were frustrated and tired. For some, the streak of time in their lives they have not forgiven themselves is grand. Forgiving yourself is a step towards healing and growing as a person.
Journaling, meditation, or talking it aloud to yourself or others are great steps toward forgiving yourself. When you do, try saying, “even though____ happened, I deeply and completely forgive myself for my actions. I did the best I could at the time, as I could not have known and better. I will try my best to act differently in the future. I forgive myself.”
What you feed into your brain repeatedly is what it will believe at it is easily persuaded. Positive affirmations will move from words, to positive thoughts and feelings, to beliefs with time. It is important to remember consistency is key as the bigger the wound from the experience, the longer amount of time will be required for healing.
Accept your emotions without judging them. Rejecting emotions tend to make the situation at large worse. Understanding you do not need to “control” your emotions because they do not damage you but in fact do quite the opposite by creating a stable emotional resilience. The balance between negative and positive emotions is needed for contentment in life.
Take responsibility for the fact you lack in self-love. The reality is you are ultimately responsible for everything happening in your life, including your happiness, unhappiness, successes and failures, and the relationship you have with yourself. Life throws curve balls, but it is how you react and respond that determines how the situation pans out. Taking responsibility is the most powerful attribute in our lives. Your mindset and happiness is based on your actions and what you feed your mind. Taking ownership of your life can help transform it. Life is not always fair and no one chooses to have low self-esteem and feel incompitent, but if you want to seize control of your life, you have to own your responsibilities and control your outlook. Love yourself enough to feed yourself positivity and confidence in a world designed to challenge you.
Self-love is not always an easy battle. There will be days when positivity and optimism falter. It is ok to struggle from time to time, as you are human. What is not ok is allowing self-pity and pain to bury you in an endless pit of despair. We all have dark days; ignoring the reality of pain, hatred, and anguish will take a toll on our mentality because the need to feel those burning feelings are being suppressed with more energy than our bodies are capable of. Be honest with yourself about who you are; forgive your past deeds and mistakes you are ashamed of.
Find and Open Your Heart
Accept your flaws and faults, but if you do not love the person with your thoughts, emotions, vices, and mistakes, you can never truly accept yourself for who you are. Understand yourself and the past you have gone through to become who you are. Love yourself intimately and find the reason for every negative thought and feeling you have toward yourself and the actions you have partook in. Most parts of your personality have a cause. Learn to love yourself in a way only you can, and stop being ashamed of your past. Instead, embrace it and understand it. When you hide past emotions and traumas, you essentially put yourself in a cage.
Feelings of false understanding or reality, trauma, or feelings of victimhood confine you into an altered reality and prevent progress towards loving yourself. The only way out is to push through all the pain and discomfort from the truth of the past you have been suppressing. In order to deal with the past and not let it have control, you will have to find comfort in the discomfort in order to accept and deal with the inner battles. Mindfulness is key. It will lessen the emotional disturbance as it will help ground you in the situation and allow you to have control.
ConclusionLoving yourself is crucial for emotional and mental health. Believing in yourself and controlling the type of beliefs you feed yourself can have a positive impact on your self-love journey. THe process is not going to be positive all the time, but when you reach a level of self-acceptance, love and esteem, it can make the world’s impact less bearing on your life. Understand who you are, forgive yourself for past mistakes, and work towards being a better version of yourself are positive ways to overcome negative thoughts and move on to healing. The journey to self-love is going to be uncomfortable at times as you begin to see and deal with the parts of you, you suppress even from yourself, but it must be done in order to achieve a sense of freedom to be who you are without worrying about others thoughts or feelings toward you. Practice exercises in order to love yourself more, so you can participate in 6 ways to practice self love.