How To Love Yourself
Everyone has heard the phrase “you need to love yourself before anyone else will be able to love you”. However, how do you go about loving yourself? What does loving yourself really mean?
The essence of loving yourself really comes down to trying to stress less and to take the time to show yourself that you do actually care about yourself. All-too-often, we tend to treat ourselves worse than we would treat any other person. We criticize and punish ourselves for our supposed transgressions in a way that we would never reprimand a friend or family member. This only leads to self-esteem issues, depression, and anxiety – three of the most common issues that people in Southern California seek help to remedy.
So, what does loving yourself really look like in practice?
Caring For The Inner Child
In the simplest form, it all comes down to action. You need to consistently act in a way that is aligned with your intuition and your heart. Merely telling yourself that you love yourself won’t be enough if you fail to get enough sleep, work increasingly long hours, eat fast food, and smoke like a chimney. No matter what you say to yourself, the message your body and mind is receiving through your negative actions is a very different story.
One way to think of it is to imagine that a small child is living inside you and you have to take responsibility for its welfare. How can you care for this child most effectively? How can you cherish them, protect them, and love them? What should you say to that child to make him or her feel safe and loved? What should you do to make sure that he or she doesn’t feel resented or neglected? Now, imagine that this child represents your heart. The more love and care you show that inner child, the more energetic, safe, and happy it feels. Conversely, the more your inner child is neglected and ignored, the more your self-esteem and self-love will spiral downwards.
When you have a clear picture of this, the next step is to take action to love yourself more and stress less. Here, we’ll look at some of the easiest ways to implement this in your everyday life.
Whenever you move, you’re allowing energy inside your body to move around too. When you sit on the sofa watching TV all day or spend hours sitting at your PC, your emotional and creative energies will be trapped inside your body. People who move less, find that their stuck energy turns into sadness and anxiety. Therefore, rather than sitting down all day long, take the time to get up, walk around and take some activity. This could take the form of a walk in the fresh air during your lunch break, or it could be heading to the gym after work for a 30-minute workout. It could even involve dancing to the radio in your kitchen while you prepare the evening meal. Whatever you choose, it can be the first step towards caring for yourself more.
“Until recently, I lived a very sedentary lifestyle” Annika, an office worker in Los Angeles reported, “when I began to suffer from depression and anxiety my therapist suggested that I tried to move around more. I was very sceptical, but I decided to follow his advice and started going for a half hour walk during my lunch break at work instead of eating at my desk. After a couple of weeks, I really started noticing the difference. I began to feel healthier and happier, and I began to face the afternoon feeling refreshed and ready to work instead of miserable and exhausted.”
Caring About Nutrition
Look at food as fuel. If you constantly put junk food into your body, you’ll feel like junk. We all know that, but still, we tend to fall into the trap of snacking on unhealthy foods and relying heavily on the drive-through to get burgers and fries at the end of a busy day. While this may be convenient, it certainly isn’t good for your well-being, either physically or mentally. On the other hand, if you’re constantly on a strict diet, depriving yourself of all the foods you love and enjoy, you’ll be eliminating enjoyment from your life. Therefore, eating clean is the best way forward. Stay well hydrated, and eat plenty of nuts, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and seeds while limiting your processed foods intake.
“I was relying very heavily on processed food” Mark, a local teacher says “but I was feeling very down about myself. I was feeling miserable and anxious all the time and I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I decided it was time to give you diet an overhaul. I introduced fruit and vegetables into my life and began to prepare meals at home from wholefoods rather than getting takeout. It wasn’t an easy change to make, but now I feel much better. My self-esteem has increased and I’m in a mentally better place.”
Protect Your Mind
Your body will feel bad if you’re constantly feeding it rubbish, and your mind suffers too whenever your brain is exposed to garbage. You need to protect your mind by limiting the amount of stress it’s exposed to. You can begin to stress less by switching the news off. Most of the news you receive these days is useless and based on fear so stop watching every broadcast and instead, search for more relevant and healthy information. Seek out educational books and websites rather than focusing on sensationalist nonsense. At the same time, give up watching reality TV shows and unfollow social media contacts who are only spreading negativity. Be intentional when it comes to choosing which information you consume and you’ll feel better.
We spend around one third of our lives in bed and so it’s only natural that we take sleep for granted. However, the way that we sleep may uplift or energize us or deplete and deprive us. If you’re struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep you should buy blackout blinds or curtains, keep your cell phone, TV and computer out of the bedroom, and limit your exposure to blue light in the 2 hours before bedtime.
“I was only getting around 4 hours of sleep a night” says Jamilla, a nurse, “by the time I got home from work I would be stressed out and my mind would be so active that I would just stay up browsing the internet on my phone for hours. In the morning, I would wake up washed out and dreading the day ahead. I decided to ban my cell phone from the bedroom and just relax with a book in bed instead. I found that I began to sleep much better. Now, my fitness tracker tells me I’m averaging 8 hours sleep per night and I’m feeling less stressed and more capable of taking on the world.”
Spend Time Intentionally
Put boundaries in place in your daily life so you can make time to do the things which matter most to you. All-too-often we agree to spend time with people we don’t want to see and take on work commitments that don’t serve us. Learn how to say no. Instead, spend time with the people you love regularly and take time to have fun and play. This will make you feel happier and it will certainly mean that you stress less when you don’t have to rush around to fit in all of the commitments that you’ve agreed to.
Part of spending your time intentionally involves allowing yourself sufficient space and time to relax and rest. Take a nap if your feel you need on. Have a spa treatment every now and then. Enjoy a warm, bubbly bath from time to time. Relaxation and rest have vital roles to play in your self-love and self-care journey. Learn that its alright to have no plan occasionally. Taking a break is often the best thing that you can do to show yourself true love.
Make A Self-Recognition List
Many of us operate under the mindset of always feeling behind or not doing enough. To show yourself love, you need to turn this mindset on its head. Instead of telling yourself you’re not doing enough, tell yourself that you’re working hard to achieve your goals. Instead of telling yourself you’re always behind, reward yourself for the things that you’ve managed to achieve so far. You can do this best by creating a self-recognition list.
Every day, write down the achievements that you’ve made. Whether they’re small or large, and whether they’re heading towards one goal or many, you should note them all down so that you can acknowledge them and praise yourself for all you’ve accomplished. Look back over your notes every so often and you’ll be able to see without doubt that you’ve made plenty of progress even if you don’t feel as if you’ve moved forwards at all.
Take Time Alone
Whether you’re married, with a partner or single, a good way to show yourself love in the long-term is to spend time alone. We can all benefit from taking alone time occasionally. Don’t be afraid to go to the movies by yourself, or to take a long solo work. Just lie down on your bed by yourself and meditate. You’ll find that revelations and thoughts arise that you never expected when you allow yourself the space and time to listen to your thoughts. You’ll also get to know yourself better, and getting to know yourself is a key step towards loving yourself.
A common barrier that we all have to self-love is a lack of forgiveness for ourselves for things we’ve done in the past. You may feel guilty about the way you treated a partner, or maybe you regret speaking angrily to a parent or sibling. There may even be whole years or months of your life that you feel that you failed yourself. Painful memories are hard to deal with, but self-forgiveness is essential if you want to love yourself more. Try meditating on your negative thoughts or writing in a journal. You could even speak to the people you feel you wronged if it would be appropriate. Remind yourself that we all make mistakes, but tell yourself that you did what you thought was right and you will now learn from your poor behavior and act in a different way in future.
Invest In Fulfilling Relationships
It isn’t just good for you to spend time with your favorite people, it’s also important to invest your love in others through quality time and acts of kindness. This, in turn, helps you to love yourself more. When you love your family, significant other and friends, you’ll find your own self-love magically grows as you’re being a good partner, child, sibling and friend to those who are worthy of your time. When you treat those who are special to you with kindness and love, you’ll feel good about yourself and this, in turn, helps you to find yourself more lovable.
It Needn’t Be Hard To Love Yourself
We tend to focus too heavily on loving other people in our lives rather than prioritizing the love that we should have for ourselves. However, self-love is extremely important and should never be underestimated. It can only be when you love yourself that you can stress less and, thus, protect your mental health and well-being. If you’re struggling with emotional difficulties or mental health problems like anxiety or depression, learning how to love yourself can be the first step on the road to your recovery. Here in South California, there are many people who are on the same journey towards self-love as you, but with the right approach and perhaps some help in the form of therapy and counseling, you can learn to care for yourself just as much as you care for the other people in your life.