Learn to Love Yourself
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation…” — Audre Lorde, Poet & Author
You’ve had more late nights than you can possibly count. You are always striving for more, both for yourself and for those around you. Often, that means putting your own wants and needs second or third or fourth or never.
Why do you do it? Why do you say yes to everyone else while ignoring your own needs? Are you motivated by altruism? Does helping others leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied? Or are you feeling worn down, dissatisfied, and a little lost?
Either way, it’s important to take care of yourself. If you deplete all of your stores, then you will have nothing left to give. Prioritizing loving and caring for ourselves will make you happier. By doing so, all our other relationships are richer and strengthened across the board. We’re better able to meet our commitments and achieve more.
So how do you care for yourself? How do you practice self-love? Let’s cover 5 simple things you can implement into your life right away to help you shift your priorities to include yourself on your list.
1. Put yourself first.
I know it’s easier said than done. So many relationships and roles in our lives—friend, parent, partner, employee or supervisor—to maintain and balance. The bottom line is you must prioritize yourself and own identity first.
Your basic needs of esteem, love, belonging, respect and self-actualization must be met first. When you learn to care for yourself first, then you improve the care you give to others. So maintaining those relationships and excelling in those roles will happen more easily and naturally.
2. Be kind to yourself.
We are slower to love ourselves, but quicker to be kind and loving toward others. Learn to love and accept yourself, imperfections and all. Step away from past mistakes, old memories and shortcomings. Live in the present. Your presence is a gift. Stay centered and find happiness in what’s right in front of you.
3. Turn off the negative self-talk.
Step away from passing harsh judgment on yourself and other. Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your strengths, abilities and positive qualities. Make repeated positive mental statements to change a perceived reality, and embrace optimistic thinking to increase your self-fulfillment.
Accept compliments graciously. Speak kindly about yourself. Celebrate your successes as well as setbacks. Pamper yourself.
One familiar positive affirmation to start with is, “I am perfectly imperfect. I strive to be better while loving all that I am today. In loving myself today, I am better equipped to improve myself tomorrow.”
We each have the ability to change for the better. By simply loving ourselves, we are changing the narrative that forms our daily life and interactions.
4. Give yourself a break.
None of us are perfect, and no one is happy all the time. Embrace your imperfections and excuse your bad days. You don’t always have to be at the top of your game. It’s normal to have low points and to feel sadness. Understand and embrace your emotions without judging yourself for having them.
Then give yourself a break. Schedule time to just be and examine how you’re feeling. Take time to examine your heart and mind and to experience whatever you may be feeling.
Emotions are often uncomfortable, but they are part of what makes us who we are. It’s what helps us to feel connected to others and to understand ourselves and our own motivations. So don’t run from your emotions. Instead, allow yourself time to feel them and recognize them.
5. Self-care begins today.
Stop waiting. Start prioritizing your needs right now. And I mean right now. Open your calendar and set aside a day for yourself as soon as possible.
Stop waiting by accepting and appreciating who you are right now—today. There are no prerequisites for you to love yourself. You will undermine your journey if you only love yourself when you’ve gotten the “right” job or raise, found the “right” relationship or look the “right” way. Begin loving yourself as you are now, not when you think you “deserve” it.
When you begin to love yourself more each day, you will be amazed by the ripple effect it has on your life. You will feel better. Your relationships will improve. Negative relationships will disappear (or possibly implode because you’re setting boundaries suddenly) and new exciting ones will enter your life. Loving yourself is a lifelong, never-ceasing commitment.
Finally, when you are complete, you can begin the pursuit of loving everyone else.