Updated: Feb 7
Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.~ Andre Gide.
All relationships require love, including the relationship we have with ourselves. But, what exactly does that mean? Self-love is not about being self-absorbed or a state of feeling good; it is about an intentional commitment to extend the same kind of respect and kindness that we gladly extend towards others... Self-love is about accepting ourselves as innately worthy, good, valuable, and deserving of happiness.
Researchers in the subject have also indicated that self-love practice can lead to healthier relationships, higher optimism, greater life satisfaction, increased curiosity, learning, and greater resilience.
So how can you begin to cultivate more feelings of self-love into your life?
Below are eight practical ways to gradually help enhance your ability to love yourself fully.
1. Feel your feelings. feeling angry? Say, “I’m feeling angry,” then let yourself feel it. Are you feeling sad? Say to yourself, “That’s sadness,” then love yourself for feeling sad. Think of your feelings as waves in the ocean, coming and going, rising and falling.
Remember, No feeling lasts forever; anger and sadness are necessary, helpful parts of the human experience that help us grow.
2. Forgive yourself. You’ve made a few mistakes. Who hasn’t? It’s time to let that go. You can’t change what you have done in the past, but you can control your future. Look at it as a learning experience and believe in your ability to change. Remember, there are no failures. If you have learned and grown from your mistakes, only lessons are learned.
3. Pursue what you need rather than what you want. What you want is rarely what you need. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from something that feels good or exciting at the moment to what you need to stay healthy, centered, and moving forward in your life. Once you’ve taken care of your needs, you’ll be in a better position to acquire what you want.
5. Appreciate your uniqueness. We tend to be embarrassed about our qualities, skills, or unique abilities. However, the most valuable parts of you are different from others. The fact that you have an elbow doesn’t make you extraordinary. So don't be afraid of being unique because that's the only way to find your best self.
6. Practice gratitude. Gratitude can boost immediate happiness, help us
remain mindful and present, and (when practiced regularly) can create long-term benefits for our mental health, including better sleep, reduced stress levels, and improved self-perception. Each day, write down five things you’re grateful for ( try to include at least one thing you can thank yourself for) and see how good it feels to end your day this way.
7. Be mindful of your inner dialogue. If your self-talk is anything less than loving, encouraging, and supportive, offer yourself compassion and reassurance. You deserve to be spoken to in the same way you would talk to the people you love and care about in your life.
8. Remember your victories. View yourself in a positive light more often. One of the easiest ways to do this is to remember your triumphs. Maybe you hit a home run and won the game in 5th grade. Remember your high school graduation day. Think about that time you received a promotion. Most people spend plenty of time remembering their failures. Try doing the opposite for a few weeks and see what happens!
Finally, be patient while you remain persistent. Self-love is an ever-evolving process that needs to be practiced daily but can take a lifetime to master. Be gentle with yourself around this process, as you are incredibly worthy of love and support from others and, more importantly, from yourself!
Netsanet Tegegn, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist in Virginia Beach who provides individualized counseling services for those who wish to create long-lasting and positive changes in their lives...