July 2012: I’m awake and hung over. Against my will, reality has come crashing back down. I can’t stop my mind or my heart from reciting the facts of my recent past.
- Three weeks ago my best friend moved away.
- Two weeks ago E* and I broke up after several years of being together. We used to talk about getting married.
A few days ago R* passed away. He was 28 years old.
I’m terrified of the future, afraid that it will only hold more pain, more loss, more suffering.
I don’t know how many days it’s been since I collapsed and I don’t really care either.
I drag myself out of bed and look in the mirror. I look exactly how I feel.
Suddenly, almost like it does in the movies, it hits me: if I ever want to get back on my feet, I need to learn to love myself…
That moment was the first time I realized that I had a relationship to myself. It inspired three years of study during which I read countless books and articles, experimented with dozens of ideas, worked with professionals, and eventually repaired the broken relationship I had to myself.
Here is what I learned about how to love yourself. I hope it is of service to you…
- The negativity bias, attentional filters, and other things that make loving yourself difficult
- You are the singular most important person in your world.
- The four levels of self-love: an overview
- Your path is yours and yours alone…
- Level 1 – do you treat yourself like someone you love?
- Level 2 – embrace your dark side
- Level 3 – the deep work of removing the walls that protect your heart
- Level 4 – the highest form of love: accepting yourself and sharing your gift
- I don’t like myself
- How To Love Yourself And Be Confident With These 15 Self-Love Tips
- Why Is It So Important To Love Yourself?
- How To Love Yourself: 15 Self-Love Tips
- 1. Have Fun By Yourself
- 2. Travel Once A Year
- 3. Forgive Yourself For Your Mistakes
- 4. Surprise Yourself
- 5. Start a Journal
- 6. Give Yourself A Break
- 7. Learn How To Love Yourself By Saying No To Others
- 8. Make A List Of Your Accomplishments
- 9. Make A Vision Board
- 10. Pursue New Interests
- 11. How To Love Yourself By Challenging Yourself
- 12. Give Yourself A Break
- 13. Give Yourself Credit Where Credit Is Due
- 14. Work On Your Self-Trust
- 15. Take Care Of Yourself
- How to like yourself just a little bit more
- 10 Ways to Learn to Like Yourself Better
- So, How Exactly Do You Love Yourself More?
- 11 Easy Ways To Actually Love Yourself More
- 1. Move often
- 2. Care about nutrition
- 3. Limit the junk food that your brain consumes
- 4. Invest in your sleep
- 5. Be intentional in how you spend your time
- 6. Regularly make time for rest and relaxation
- 7. Incorporate regular play into your life
- 8. Maintain an ongoing self-recognition list
- 9. Spend time alone
- 10. Forgive yourself for past self-perceived wrongdoings
- 11. Invest in your most fulfilling relationships
- Loving Yourself, Made Easy
- 8 Steps to Like Yourself (More)
- 1. Lower Your Expectations
- 2. Read Your Self-Esteem File
- 3. Talk to Yourself as a Friend
- 4. Picture Yourself
- 5. Discover Yourself
- 6. Offer Yourself Lovingkindness
- 7. Ditch Regret
- 8. Be Held in Prayer
- Get a Hit of Self-Esteem: How to Start Liking Yourself
- What is Self-Esteem?
- Some of the key life-changing takeaways are how to:
- 1. You’re stuck with you
- 2. If you don’t like yourself, you’ll hold yourself back
- 3. Not liking yourself is exhausting
- 4. If you like yourself, you can do whatever you want (kinda)
- 5. There’s only one of you
- If Self-Love Is Hard, Just Focus on Liking Yourself
- 5 Reasons to Love Yourself Just the Way You Are
- 1. Let’s use our own resources to get what we want
- 2. Compare as much as you want, but you’ll never become them
- 3. Let’s accept the light as well as the shadows
- 4. Decide on your own values
- 5. Loving ourselves will give us the ability to love others
- Do You Find It Hard To Respect Yourself? Why?
- 8 ways to Help You Build a Healthy Respect for Yourself
- Here are a few more quick ideas about self-respect:
The negativity bias, attentional filters, and other things that make loving yourself difficult
Imagine that two articles about you have just been published. The first raves about you and your work. It claims that you are God’s gift to humanity, showers you in praise, and encourages everyone to follow your lead.
The second proclaims that you are a complete idiot and a blight upon this world. It insults you and dismisses your work as a waste of time. It encourages people to completely ignore you.
Which of those two articles would get more of your energy and attention?
If you’re anything like me the negative article would be far more impactful than the positive one. As it turns out this is normal. It’s the result of what psychologists call the “Negativity Bias.”
The negativity bias is the phenomenon that if there are two equally charged stimuli, the negative one will attract more of your mind’s attention.
The funny thing about the negativity bias is that from an evolutionary perspective, it was a huge competitive advantage. Say that you are a hunter-gatherer out looking for food. Suddenly, a poisonous snake starts slithering up to you and a wild boar that could feed your family for weeks runs across your path. Your subconscious has milliseconds to decide which animal to pay attention to.
Choose to hunt the boar and you’ll be vulnerable to the snake and likely to get bitten. Choose to defend yourself against the snake, and you will avoid getting bitten, but the boar will get away.
All of our ancestors who naturally paid attention to the positive stimuli in their environment (the boar) died out because they failed to identify the threats around them (the snake).
In the past, the negativity bias was a useful adaptive response. Today it just makes you pay too much attention to what’s wrong with you and the world.
Attentional filters: in any given moment you are bombarded with more stimulation than your mind can actively process. In order to function in an environment that is supersaturated with data, your mind filters out almost all of the information around you. This is called attentional filtering.
A side effect of attentional filtering is that the world ends up looking like whatever it is you’re focused on.
For example, as you read this sentence, you are not not actively paying attention to how your toes feel in your socks; however now that your attention has been called to your toes, you notice them. That’s the attentional filter in action.
The combined effect and the media: minds are not very good at processing reality. First, your mind is much more likely to pay attention to what’s wrong, than what’s right (the negativity bias). Second, your mind is forced to filter out almost all of the stimulation in any given situation (attentional filters).
Because of this, your mind has a tendency to view you as being far less intelligent, capable, good looking, charming, and ultimately, worthy of love than you actually are.
This is further exacerbated by a media culture that preys on fear, and an advertising culture that strives to make you feel small unless you’re up to date with all of the latest trends.
Simply put, if you are having trouble loving yourself, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s a side effect of modernity.
Fortunately, loving yourself is a skill that can be learned and mastered. The first step is realizing the truth about your importance…
You are the singular most important person in your world.
Everything in your life flows from your relationship to yourself. Learn to treat yourself like someone worthy of love, respect, and compassion, and your life will flow more effortlessly, abundantly, and joyfully than you can imagine.
Treat yourself like someone worthy of contempt, disdain, and indifference, and each day will be a struggle to keep your head above water.
The unfortunate part is that most people never put much energy into their relationship with themselves. They drift through life acting as their own worst critic, working to inhibit their potential, and keeping their hearts and minds guarded.
I know that sounds dramatic, but pause for a moment. If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to yourself in your head, would you have any friends left? Before I started working on my relationship to myself, I wouldn’t.
Or at a deeper level: have you ever felt fully loved by yourself or someone else?
You’d be surprised by how many people’s honest answer is, “No.” I’ll come back to that in a bit.
I spent years of my life quietly but cleverly telling myself I’m not worthy. I obsessed over mistakes from my past. I endlessly replayed embarrassing moments (while somehow neglecting the beautiful ones). I failed to forgive myself for being a human, (a very real part of me wants to be a demi-God).
If you can relate to any of that, don’t worry; it just means you’re human too.
Long time readers will know that I tackled the topic of self-love several years ago. At the time, I shared everything I knew. But here’s the truth: I still had a few boulders preventing me from fully seeing and loving myself when I wrote that article (though I wasn’t aware of them at the time).
My journey isn’t complete and never will be (self-love is a process, not a destination), but I have come a long way in my practice, and hope to help you with yours; because the truth of all this is that loving yourself is really fucking hard. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
The easy path is to distract yourself with drugs, alcohol, stress, white lies, busyness, bad relationships, external validation, and pretend happiness. But doing this makes you more of a cold, unfeeling robot, than a vivacious, hot blooded human. One of my deepest wishes is that you wake up to how amazing and powerful you truly are. That journey requires finding the courage (and it does take courage) to live and love while you’re still alive.
The four levels of self-love: an overview
Think of your relationship to yourself in four levels:
Level 1: the day-to-day. Do you treat yourself like an important person who deserves love and respect, or are you subtly placing unreasonable expectations on yourself? What do your behaviors say about your relationship to yourself?
If you do not treat yourself as you would treat someone you love, you’ll never feel the love that flows from your core.
Level 2: embrace your dark side. Do you accept and acknowledge your dark side when it surfaces? Do you embrace the part of you that is pessimistic, lazy, depressed, violent, crude and offensive? Or do you pretend that everything is rainbows, gumdrops, and unicorn shits. Do you pretend that every day is a good day?
To be human is to be stormy and tempestuous one day (or moment), and then calm and sunny the next. To pretend otherwise is to deny who you truly are, and denying your truth is an act of self-loathing.
Level 3: the deep work. Have you truly seen yourself for who you are? Can you grasp that your imperfections are what make you perfect? Have you owned the reality that life was inflicted upon you without asking and with it came trauma, abuse, disappointment and eventually death? Do you acknowledge that these struggles will forever shape your life until you confront them and begin the healing process?
One of the most beautiful truths about the human experience is that it’s never too late to become the man or woman you truly are. You can begin healing, growing, and flourishing now. Doing so requires the courage and clarity to see yourself, so that you may begin the process of tearing down the walls that protect your heart.
As you do this you will open to the flow of love and life around you.
Level 4: the highest form of love. Every single person was born with unique gifts. The gifts can be anything from athletic performance, to empathy, to humor, to spirituality, to business acumen, and everything in between.
The real work of learning to love yourself is learning to see who you truly are and accepting it all. Along the path, you’ll discover deep gifts that you were born with.
The highest expression of love for yourself and the world is sharing those gifts freely and abundantly.
Your path is yours and yours alone…
What follows are guidelines for learning to love yourself. They are the things that consistently get results, laid out in a sequence that is congruent with how the heart and the mind tend to work.
But there is no singular path forward. Your job is to find your path. I’ll do my best to help, but you’re the one who must walk it.
My advice to you: when you find a step or a suggestion that excites you, experiment with it. See if it opens you and makes you happier. If so, keep working with it. If not, let it go.
When you find a step or suggestion that inspires fear, reluctance, or disgust, approach it with curiosity. Ask yourself why you’re having such a strong reaction. Instead of allowing intense emotion to be a brick wall, use curiosity and patience to feel through it.
Let your strong emotions be your guides.
Level 1 – do you treat yourself like someone you love?
The complicated relationship between feelings and actions. One of the secrets of human behavior is that how we feel and how we behave act reciprocally upon one another. In other words, if you treat yourself like shit, you’ll feel like shit. If you treat yourself like an amazing person, you’ll feel like an amazing person.
Pause and take inventory of the actions that you perform throughout the day. Are they reflective of the actions you would take if you truly loved yourself?
For most, the answer is no. Most people don’t get enough sleep or exercise, have crappy diets, work in jobs they hate, and go to great lengths to avoid spending any real time in their own company.
You can take a huge step forward by treating yourself as though you are intrinsically worthy of love. By creating the behaviors and signals that you are in fact an amazing human you’ll notice that you begin to feel that way.
There is no prescriptive blend of behaviors that works for everyone. However the actions below are unusually effective and worth experimenting with. You’ll notice that none of them are obscure or complicated. In fact, they are common. Don’t dismiss these ideas simply because you’ve heard them before. Instead try one or two. Take the risk of treating yourself well and see what happens.
- Prioritize sleep: aim to get enough sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed. The easiest way to do this is to get up at the same time each day, and go to bed when you’re tired.
- Exercise: spend at least 30 minutes a day 3 days a week getting decent exercise. This can be jogging, lifting, frisbee, yoga, team sports, whatever.
- Meditation or silent reflection: personally, I practice Vipassana (Pali for “Insight”) meditation. My suggestion to you is that you experiment with a few different forms until you find one that resonates.
- Express gratitude: share your sincere appreciation for the people around you. Or write down a few things that you’re grateful for each day. I use the Five Minute Journal for this and love it.
- Hold space for your religion or spirituality: attend services, study groups, prayer sessions, or read from the texts.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet: if you need guidance on understanding health and nutrition, I suggest starting with Michael Pollan’s excellent (and quick) book, “Food Rules.”
- Set boundaries: are you allowing toxic people, activities, or habits into your life? If so, slowly start removing them.
- Play: are you having fun, and enjoying your day-to-day? If not, play more! Shoot your coworker with a Nerf gun, play mini-golf with your friends, or take an improv class.
- Give yourself small treats throughout the day. Treat yourself to a soy latte. Watch a few cat videos guilt free. Go for a walk. Call in “sick.” Wear your favorite shirt. Giving yourself small gifts throughout the day signals to yourself that you’re an awesome person worthy of a nice life.
The more you act like someone who loves yourself, the more you’ll feel like someone who loves yourself.
Level 2 – embrace your dark side
When I was living in Montreal, I had a roommate who pretended that every day was amazing. She said she loved God, loved life, and felt grateful just to be on Earth.
She also drank a lot, kept a terrible diet, complained that she didn’t have a boyfriend (while also sleeping with countless men), struggled at work, and lacked a social life.
There was a huge disconnect between the stories she told everyone (including herself) and her reality. She wanted every day to be bright, sunny, and joyful.
Just one little problem: it’s not possible to make every day a good day. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s desirable.
Look to nature. Even the most beautiful, ancient forests are sometimes struck by lightning and burnt to the ground. At first glance, this seems like tragic, wasteful destruction. But it’s not. It’s all a part of the natural cycle of life. The fire destroys the forest; the ashes feed the soil; the soil provides a stronger, more nurturing environment; the forest grows back more radiant than before.
Beneath the pain, darkness and destruction rests a quiet core of growth, love, and beauty. This is true of a forest, and this is also true of a human.
To step fully into the human experience you must embrace the darkness. At it’s highest level, this means internalizing that you will die one day (as will everyone you’ve ever loved and everyone who ever loved you). At a more mundane level, it means realizing that suffering is part of the human experience. To deny your suffering is to deny your humanity.
To pretend that you are ok when you’re broken, that you are unafraid when you’re terrified, or that you’re calm when you are rageful is to deny your true nature.
You are a human. Sometimes you’re stormy. Sometimes you’re placid. Sometimes you’re in between. You can’t be any other way. And that’s perfect.
The second level of learning to love yourself is embracing who you really are. Cast away the societal bullshit of trying to be happy and content every second of your life and step into the greater reality of being honest about who you are and how you experience life. By doing so, you will create space to give and receive love.
Doing this requires being honest about who you are, and that means embracing that you have a shadow side.
Three tips for embracing your shadow
- Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. You’re not a computer. Your perfections are found through your imperfections. If you didn’t fuck up from time to time, you wouldn’t be a human. If you’ve been beating yourself up for things that happened in your past, release yourself. Accept that you’re human and flawed, and that it’s ok. Stop expecting yourself to be perfect. Instead, revel in the imperfections that make you beautiful.If you’re having trouble forgiving yourself, begin by being more forgiving of others.
- Realize that it’s human to be disgusting, lazy, jealous, and aggressive from time to time. It’s normal to have dark thoughts and feelings. You can even act on these feelings as long as you find a safe outlet to do so without harming yourself or others. I like to release rage from my system by throwing temper tantrums alone in my apartment. Bottling strong feelings is never a productive idea. An even worse idea is pretending that you don’t have strong feelings or rough edges. Instead, see the truth of who you are. Accept it. When you do, you’ll notice that you can more fully surrender into love.You’d never fault a cat for being a cat. Don’t’ fault yourself for being a human.
- Spend time alone in silence. Most people fill their lives with white noise. They use podcasts and music and TV and gossip and busyness and the internet and a million other things to avoid being completely alone in their own company. If you ask someone why they fill their lives with so much noise, they’ll say it’s because they hate boredom. In reality, they are afraid of what they may find if they spent time alone and undistracted.In order to fully see yourself, you need to spend time in silence. Turn your phone and computer off and be by yourself. Alone, in silence, undistracted. Don’t be afraid of what comes up. If it’s darkness, trust me, it will pass.
You might be surprised to find a neglected sense of enchantment, joy, and compassion resting deep inside, waiting for you to create the space for it to come out.
Level 3 – the deep work of removing the walls that protect your heart
Let’s return to one of the questions we started with: have you ever felt fully loved?
I know that’s a heavy question, and I’m not going to ask you to share the answer with anyone besides yourself, but pause for a moment and contemplate deeply into your life. Have you ever felt fully loved?
Far more people than you’d guess have never truly felt love in their lives. I know this because I’ve dealt with this myself, and I have worked with thousands of people who needed help allowing love in.
Realize this: it’s not your fault. I promise; it’s not your fault. We live in a world that values a head far more than it values a heart. The only way a heart could survive is to protect itself with thick walls.
The third and most difficult step involves finding, accepting, and removing the walls that protect your heart.
I’m going to share what I can, but I want to be upfront about something: most people will need a guide to help them fully surrender into their true nature. Personally, I’ve worked with coaches and mentors to do the deep work. I had a huge blind spot around being a child entertainer, that I simply could not have seen without a talented professional.
Be sure to pick your guide carefully because many people who claim to be able to do deep, open hearted work, simply can’t. Look for someone who has already done the hard work of opening herself, is deeply empathetic, unintimidated by other people’s realities, and who you feel very comfortable with. You’ll know you’ve found her when you meet her. You’ll recognize the rare resonance of someone who can truly help you.
If you’d like to start moving down the path on your own, here is what I suggest…
Begin by digging into your life story. The easiest way to do this is to create a space where you can express yourself freely. I suggest either writing in a journal or engaging in a verbal monologue, out loud, to yourself. Your task is to tell your life story from start to finish.
Keep a photo of yourself as a child nearby while you go through these exercises. It’s often easier to love the innocent child you were than the experienced adult you are. The picture helps cement that though you’re older and bigger, you’re still you and totally worthy of the love and light you’ve been yearning for.
As you express yourself, go out of your way to be honest, vulnerable, and forthright. Lean into your rough edges, your humanity, and your rawness.
Within your story, look for a few things:
- Times when you were being cruel to yourself in a way you wouldn’t be cruel to a loved one.
- Times when you misperceived reality.
- Abuse – both subtle and profound – from caretakers. Many people are victims of emotional abuse though they don’t realize it. In fact many people confuse emotional abuse with love. A useful exercise here is to judge your parents.
- Any traumas, blatant or hidden.
- Recurring themes, feelings, and situations. Ask yourself, “What feels familiar here?” during particularly emotional episodes of your life.
It’s important to understand that everyone has experienced all of the above. We all beat ourselves up; we all get confused; we’ve all been victims of our loved ones’ bad decisions.
A word about traumas and abuse
One of my friends is a survivor of repeated childhood sexual abuse. Worse still, her parents were aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it.
One of the many beautiful things about her is how deeply she’s worked on herself and learned to love through it all.
A few months ago, I was sharing something with her about how terrible it was being a child entertainer. In the middle of opening up, I got self-conscious and said, “I’m so sorry. I realize that I’m bitching about something trivial, especially compared to the shit you’ve been through.”
She simply looked at me and said, “Jason, pain is pain. There’s no judgment here.” 1
“Pain is pain” was one of the most beautiful, liberating phrases of my life. Until that moment, I had been a victim of myself. I pretended that my trauma wasn’t valid, simply because it wasn’t obvious. For years, I had been telling myself that doing 300 magic shows before my 18th birthday, at the expense of my childhood, had no negative effects on me.
The truth is, I was wrong. My past was affecting me. Deeply. And there is an extremely good chance that if you’re reading this, you have endured experiences in your life that were deeply traumatic too.
It’s time to stop lying to yourself. It was a big deal. It’s not your fault. And now, it’s time to heal.
Trauma and pain can be caused by obvious things like being raised by abusive parents, subtle things like a cruel word, and everything in between. Your pain is yours, and it’s real. Where it comes from is not a reflection of your worthiness, strength, or ability as a human. As you embrace this, you will start to feel an opening.
The deep work of learning to love is done by shining a bright light on yourself and accepting the truth about things that happened in your past.
Level 4 – the highest form of love: accepting yourself and sharing your gift
I am tempted to picture a fully formed, loving human as someone who lives in total bliss. She’s always happy, and her radiance and commitment to love is so strong that her mere presence alleviates suffering. Fawns eat from her hand and humming birds land on her shoulder to share their secrets.
Only one problem with this image: it’s complete and utter bullshit. If a creature like that existed, it wouldn’t be a human.
To be human is to be both stormy and sunny. It is to always be moving through the levels of self-love and self-compassion.
There will be times in your life when it makes sense to do the deep work. Take those opportunities when you can.
There will be times when you’ll accept your shadow and your daily habits will be on point.
There will be times when you’ll step fully into your power.
There will be times when you can feel – and even influence – the flow of the world around you.
And life ebbs and flows.
There will be times when stress catches up to you and even your favorite person pisses you off.
There will be times when you lose someone you love and you’ll be wrecked for months.
There will be times when you wish you didn’t have to deal with being human.
And it’s all ok.
The practice of love involves working with yourself wherever you’re at. Having a shitty day? Accept that. It’s ok. In one of those stretches where everything you touch turns to gold? Beautiful. Use it for good.
Your ultimate work in self-love is simply this: step fully and boldly into your life. When times are tough, be gentle on yourself. When times are good, relish them.
As you grow closer to yourself (and you’ll notice that in doing so, you become more powerful) your final task is simple: use everything you have in service of yourself and in service of others. Share your gift.
When you do this, everything in the world will burn brighter because of you.
- Earlier I was talking about the difficulty of finding a guide to help you through this heart opening work. Someone like my friend is exactly who you want to guide you through this. She’s done the hard work of opening herself, she’s deeply empathetic, and she’s not threatened by other people’s realities.
I don’t like myself
We all have a relationship with ourselves, just as we have relationships with the other people around us. We all tend to think of ourselves in a certain way, and might have certain patterns of behaviour when it comes to ‘interacting’ with ourselves.
When someone says they ‘don’t like’ themselves, what they’re often describing is having a poor relationship with themselves – that they’ve come to think of themselves in negative terms or regard themselves as not having much worth.
However, just like our relationships with other people, it’s important to be able to look after our relationship with self and make sure that we’re able to deal with negative thoughts and emotions so they don’t build up over time.
What influences our relationship with self?
One way is by the agency of ‘scripts’ that we learn through our relationships with others. A script is a pattern of thinking – a role we tend to cast ourselves in that can become ingrained over time. We’re not always aware of the scripts we ‘play out’ in relationships.
When we’re young, we tend to learn scripts from the people looking after us. For instance, a child who didn’t receive much support from their parents when they were little – who was never comforted when they hurt themselves, or ignored when they were upset – might learn to regard themselves as undeserving of support.
Our experiences later in life can also define these scripts. For instance, someone who always found themselves in the role of ‘peacekeeper’ in a relationship might take that forward into other relationships later on. Or someone who was cheated on might struggle to trust future partners.
Our relationship with ourselves can also be affected by how satisfied we feel with our place in the world. If we feel things aren’t going well – perhaps if we feel we haven’t enjoyed the professional success we’ve always wanted, or don’t feel respected by our friends or colleagues – we may end up blaming ourselves, deciding that there must be something wrong with us for things to be this way.
Social influences can also have a powerful part to play. Again, this relates to this idea of ‘comparing’ ourselves to what might be. The media can depict an unhealthy idea of the ‘perfect’ life – successful, fun, packed full of adventure – and it can be very discouraging if you feel that your own falls short.
How does having a negative relationship with self affect you?
One common consequence is the development of a highly negative dialogue with yourself. You may begin to think of yourself in negative terms, or take on an aggressive or critical tone when thinking. We often use words to describe ourselves (‘I’m such an idiot’) that we would never use to describe other people. And when you think poorly of yourself, this can be even worse – you may find yourself habitually using this language in a way that is very damaging to your self-esteem.
Over time, having a negative perception of yourself can cause you to become distant from your emotions. You may want avoid interacting with the ‘self’ that you feel is such a let-down. You may start to feel less, to try less, to feel more and more pessimistic about your future. If we think in terms of it being your relationship with yourself that’s breaking down, this is similar to a couple who aren’t getting on avoiding talking to each other – warm feelings replaced by resentment and negative thoughts.
How do I start liking myself?
The single most important thing is to try to switch up this negative dialogue. How you communicate with yourself is absolutely key to how you think about think about yourself.
You might like to start by simply trying to listen to the voice in your head and noticing times when it might be phrasing things in a negative way. Many people find it useful to keep a diary of what they’ve been thinking each day. Once you become more aware of what your mind is doing, you may be more able to address these patterns.
Once you’ve started doing this, you might like to try replacing the negative language with more positive. Instead of thinking ‘I’m an idiot’, try thinking ‘I’m not perfect, but nobody is’. Instead of thinking ‘I’m a failure’, try ‘I’m doing my best’. This is easier said than done, of course – but if you stick at it, you may find it becomes a positive habit over time.
Also crucial is that you learn to forgive yourself for the imperfections that make you human. Nobody is perfect. The vast majority of people feel that they aren’t reaching their absolute full potential. We all make mistakes – including big ones. We often hear the phrase ‘treat other people as you would treat yourself’ – well, it also works the other way round. Try to be kind to yourself in the way that you would be kind to others. Again, this is a positive habit and it may take time to form, but once you get into the swing of it, you may find it gives you the freedom to reject the preconceptions of perfection – to just be you. Be gentle on yourself.
And our final tip would be to focus on your relationships with other people. The better you feel about other people around you, the better you’re likely to feel about yourself. If you feel supported, loved and able to talk to other people, you’re far more likely to feel optimistic about the future. Positive relationships are key to self-worth: they’re like a safety net against isolation. Additionally, having a support network around you means you’ve got a better chance of talking about anything that might be bothering you or causing you to feel less happy.
How we can help
Relate is very well known for couples counselling. But a big part of our work is individual counselling – exploring the relationship you have with your ‘self’.
Visit our Talk To Someone page for ways to get in touch and start working on your primary relationship – with your ‘self’.
Quick question: Do you like yourself?
When asked this question, most people respond by saying something like, “Of course I like myself.” While their words say they like themselves, what do their actions say?
Are you someone who’s comfortable in their own skin? Are you happy with your appearance, or are you constantly comparing yourself to others, wishing you could be more like them? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A superstar, or someone who doesn’t quite live up to your own expectations?
The thing is, our self-esteem is based on how we think about ourselves, right now in this moment. Sure, it’s okay to strive to become a better version of ourselves, so long as we accept this current version, flaws and all.
If you’re someone who is overly self-critical, here are 5 ways you can learn to like yourself better:
1. Enjoy Your Accomplishments
Some people are so focused on everything that’s wrong with them, they never take a look at what’s right. When you’ve done something well, it’s important that you admit this success and enjoy it.
It doesn’t have to be something huge, either. It could be that you made a really delicious lasagna. Allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying every single bite, and happily receive any compliments from those you cooked for.
2. Understand That No One is Perfect
If you’ve been comparing yourself to other people, it’s time for you to stop and realize that no one is perfect. Not the models you see on the cover of magazines, nor the actors in the movies. They have professional makeup artists, stylists, and have the advantage of darn good lighting. Would it surprise you that even they have doubts, frustrations, and fear of not living up to fan expectations?
Not even the so-called perfect among us are actually perfect. The sooner you can accept this fact the sooner you can relax and like who you are.
3. Have Patience with Yourself
Perhaps there are things about yourself that you would like to change. Do you want to lose weight, get healthier, learn a new language?
Often we dislike ourselves for not reaching impossible goals we have set for ourselves. If there are goals you would like to reach, be realistic in setting timelines and be patient with yourself. Baby steps get you just as close to your goal than not stepping into any action toward it.
4. Look at Your Past with a Kind Eye
Sometimes we don’t like ourselves because of past actions and behaviors. It’s important to show yourself self-compassion. When you were young, you may not have always acted kindly toward loved ones or strangers. Maybe you acted selfishly more often than you care to admit. But this is a part of being young. Is it possible that those past indiscretions lead to teaching opportunities whereby you learned to do things differently when you had a “do over” helping to make you better today than you were yesterday?
5. Like “Most” of Yourself
Interestingly, compassion is easier to show to those around us, even strangers, than showing ourselves self-compassion. Our best friend, our partner, our child – we embrace them warts and all because the majority of “who” they are brings us joy and love and goodness.
Can you practice this same philosophy toward yourself? Can you allow yourself to love a portion of you?
If loving yourself is too big of a thought, can you start small and like most of yourself?
Thought of the day:
For today, I allow myself to like myself warts and all!
How you feel about yourself has to do with your thoughts about yourself. If you’ve been challenged with a reoccurring thought about yourself for some time, maybe years, that has kept you from showing up in your life fully as you have hoped to, perhaps its time to ask yourself if you are willing to trade that old thought habit in for a new model.
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How To Love Yourself And Be Confident With These 15 Self-Love Tips
Can you honestly say that you love yourself? Are you having a hard time being happy with yourself? It is so easy to focus on your faults and everyone can dwell on their insecurities instead of the things about themselves that they are happy with. Doing this can cause you to dislike yourself. You may also be too busy focusing on others around you and not focusing on loving yourself. Some people don’t want to be alone and fear to do things on their own. This can really hinder your journey to self-love, as you have to learn to be comfortable being with yourself. So, keep reading to discover how to love yourself today.
Plus, we are going to take a look at some ways that you can fall in love with yourself to help you get started on your self-love journey. First, let’s take a look at why you need to love yourself.
Why Is It So Important To Love Yourself?
This may seem more important to some than others, but self-love is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Being in love with yourself provides you with self-confidence, self-worth and it will generally help you feel more positive. You may also find that it is easier for you to fall in love once you have learned to love yourself first.
If you can learn to love yourself, you will be much happier and will learn how to best take care of yourself. When you are truly in love with yourself and happy, you should stop comparing yourself to others so much and should find yourself more confident, not worrying as much about what others think.
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How To Love Yourself: 15 Self-Love Tips
We are going to talk about how to love yourself and why it helps. It’s good to find the best ways for you personally to love yourself, as you will most likely learn new things about yourself and start trying new things in the process.
Some of these steps may seem scary at first, but once you have mastered the ways that work for you, you will feel so much happier and can truly say that you love yourself. Here are just 15 self-love tips you can try today to discover how to love yourself and own your confidence!
1. Have Fun By Yourself
It’s always good to have a few days set by for yourself, that is just for you to do something fun. In doing this you can learn to enjoy your own company, and most likely feel more confident doing it on your own.
This could be, going to the cinema, going on a date with yourself or finding new things to try.
2. Travel Once A Year
This may be completely out of your comfort zone, but that is a good thing! If you can travel on your own, this will be a great self-love experience. You will be learning new things not only about yourself but also another culture. This also helps to bring you out of your normal routine.
3. Forgive Yourself For Your Mistakes
Reflecting on your mistakes can help you to forgive and forget. If you can look back at some poor choices you may have made, and forgive yourself, you can start to move on and forget about the past. Loving yourself despite any mistakes you made in the past is great for your self-worth.
4. Surprise Yourself
Try things out of your control, and say yes to things you would not normally say yes to. This will also help you with getting to know yourself. You may find out that you enjoy things you never realized or tried before. Try and get out of your comfort zone and see what happens (it will most likely be positive!).
5. Start a Journal
If you can write down your thoughts and feelings, you can go back at a later date and see how you coped with certain situations.
This is also a positive way for you to get rid of any negative experiences and feelings, helping you to focus on the good things and learn from the bad.
6. Give Yourself A Break
We can be hard on ourselves sometimes, it’s natural, but you need to give yourself a break from time to time.
No one is perfect, and you can’t expect yourself to be so.
Certain things happen but you need to accept them and not be too hard on yourself.
7. Learn How To Love Yourself By Saying No To Others
Sometimes we do too much for people, we like to please other people, so we tend to stretch ourselves too thin and commit to everything we can. We can forget to look after ourselves sometimes, so that’s why it is good to say no. Focus on yourself when you can, or if you are overwhelmed.
8. Make A List Of Your Accomplishments
Creating a list of what you have achieved is a great way to fall in love with yourself. This makes you feel good about yourself, and find happiness from what you have accomplished. We can sometimes focus on the negatives and forget about the positives, so this is a great way to remind yourself of what you have achieved.
9. Make A Vision Board
Visualizing your goals is a good way to feel motivated and excited about your future. You can focus on your dreams and start to love your life and yourself.
If you are unsure of how to make a vision board, take a look at our guide on how to visualize.
10. Pursue New Interests
It’s great to try something new that you have wanted to try for a while, or have been too scared to do.
You never know what you might enjoy until you try it, so think of a new hobby you could try, or go to a place you’ve wanted to go to for a while.
11. How To Love Yourself By Challenging Yourself
If you can challenge yourself, you will also be getting to know yourself and what you are capable of. Perhaps you are a singer, who sings as a hobby but has wanted to sing at a gig for years if you can take that leap and book a gig you will challenge yourself and feel much more confident. Just go for it, and see what happens.
12. Give Yourself A Break
Try and put aside 30 minutes of your time, to completely relax. Having a break from the chaos of life is a great way to love and care for yourself. This could be having a bubble bath, reading a book or meditating. Meditating is a great way to relax, if you want to learn how to meditate, take a look at our step by step guide.
13. Give Yourself Credit Where Credit Is Due
Celebrate your achievements! Just like when you list your accomplishments, it’s good to actually celebrate your achievements. Tell others about what you have done, share your experience and be proud of what you have done. Give yourself the credit you deserve.
14. Work On Your Self-Trust
A great way to show yourself self-love is to trust yourself and your own instincts.
You are most likely going to know what is best for you, and self-trust is a step to self-love.
You need to trust yourself before you can trust others, so listen to your gut and trust how you feel.
15. Take Care Of Yourself
This one probably seems obvious, but taking care of yourself plays a big part in learning how to love yourself, and a lot of people do not do it. If you take care of yourself, you will be the best version of yourself. Take a look at our self-care ideas to get you started.
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How to like yourself just a little bit more
Fortunately, we can change this pattern. Self-acceptance can be developed and practiced daily.
Self-acceptance requires a combination of three skills: emotional regulation, awareness, and introspection—the courage to look inward even when external storms are brewing. Here are three steps to self-acceptance:
1. Cultivate self-awareness.
What bugs you? What so-called shortcomings does your inner critic remind you of repeatedly? Which qualities are you trying to hide or deny or change? Can you simply recognize these things without judgment? See them without self-criticism?
Perhaps the wrinkles around your eyes represent a full life—rather than an imperfection. Maybe, a mistake you made at work isn’t a sign of a larger problem or character flaw, but simply an error. You may have an easier time accepting yourself if you can practice observing without judgment.
Try this: Take a deep breath and look at your hand. Notice the knuckles, the pigment, the nails. See the wrinkles, the dry skin, and maybe even hangnails too. Just notice it all.
Each time you feel yourself judging those age spots or short fingers, take a breath and try to exhale the criticism. Your hands are designed to help you. They are tools. Accept them without judgment.
2. Reframe the trying times.
Managing our emotions is key to the practice of self-acceptance. It’s OK to feel upset or disappointed, but watch out for excessive self-blame and self-criticism. By taking a broader view and recognizing your humanity, you may find less to be upset about.
Try this: Instead of focusing on a disappointment or challenge from a single perspective see if you can observe it with a new lens. Could that so-called weakness or problem instead represent a chance for growth? Is the challenge you are facing a sign of resilience rather than failure?
Remember there are many ways to look at a given situation, make sure you are taking in the view from all angles.
3. Step outside the bullshit.
Self-acceptance is a kinder, softer, more authentic way of being in the world. Instead of hiding or denying some of your attributes, own them. Become introspective. Recognize that these same qualities make you unique and marvelous.
It’s up to you to define how external events and outside opinions will shape you, don’t let them bring you down.
Try this: Lead with self-compassion. Next time you are feeling judged, ashamed, or blamed, talk to yourself as you would a friend. Go easy. Notice what went wrong. Realize too, that everyone makes mistakes, but we are more than our imperfections.
With these practices, self-acceptance can become the antidote to self-doubt, insecurity, and the endless anxiety we feel when we believe we aren’t enough. It isn’t emotional bubble wrap—you’ll still feel upset, even embarrassed at times, but you may also be more comfortable (and resilient!) in the face of adversity.
Instead, you can learn to trust in your ability to cope with all that life offers—just as you are. You are good enough. Accept it.
10 Ways to Learn to Like Yourself Better
If you were to be totally honest, would you say that you really and truly like yourself? Or are you constantly performing makeovers on your appearance, personality, and abilities? When you look in the mirror, do you see imperfections in your skin and hair and wish you could make them go away? Do you feel the same way about with your personality? Every time you worry instead of relaxing before a social event, do you want to kick yourself for being so anxious?
It’s all too easy to become a mental makeover fanatic, especially when reality shows are doing just that to everything from fashion to housing. You can get to the point where you see yourself not as you truly are, but only as you wish you could be. To paraphrase Ophelia from Hamlet, who said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”: “We know what we are, and we wish we weren’t this way.”
The basis for a positive sense of self-esteem is that you accept yourself as you are, not as you “may” be. This doesn’t mean that you’re never self-critical or that you should never change, but that you’re able to live with being flawed and with your own approach to trying to make yourself a bit less so.
The idea of self-acceptance is gaining ground in the psychological literature as an important contributor to positive mental states such as peace of mind, greater self-understanding, and the ability to empathize with others. Carl Rogers wrote back in the 1950s and 60s about the quality of unconditional positive regard and its importance in personality development. According to Rogers, when parents place “conditions of worth” on young children, they cause their offspring to grow up to be self-doubters and critics. If you feel that your parents will love you only when you perform up to their standards, you’ll develop an inner voice that constantly compares you to how you “should” be.
In fact, a psychologists writing from several vantage points discuss the importance of being able to view yourself without feeling undue anxiety about how you may be falling short of some unrealistic ideal self. Psychologists today are translating these theories into measures of self-acceptance that make it possible to see just how hard you tend to come down on yourself.
Before getting to this measure, and some of the research that backs it up, a word of caution: If you get down on yourself for getting down on yourself, you’ll only make things worse. Seeing how self-accepting you are, or are not, can be a liberating process if you look for guideposts along the way that allow you to shake off those inner, critical voices.
Louisiana Tech University psychologists Güler Boyraz and Brandon Waits tested the idea that “individuals with high levels of self-acceptance may be less likely to focus and ruminate on negative aspects of the self and more likely to engage in intellectual self-focus” (p. 85). In other words, if you accept yourself, you’ll be less likely to mull over your failings and more likely to see yourself in a realistic light. You don’t become completely oblivious to your shortcomings, but you’re less likely to view them as fatal flaws.
To test this idea, Boyraz and Waits conducted a two-part study in which, in the first stage, they measured the tendency of undergraduate participants to think about (reflect on), and worry about (ruminate over) their behavior. They then related these to changes at the second stage in the qualities of self-acceptance and empathy. As they hypothesized, people who reflected on their behavior—but didn’t ruminate—had higher levels of self-acceptance; self-acceptance, in turn, predicted higher levels of reflection. Surprisingly, the ruminators tended to be more empathic than the authors expected: It’s possible that the more you ponder your own shortcomings, the more likely you’ll be able to forgive them in others.
Returning to the idea of self-acceptance, then, the Boyraz and Waits study suggests that taking in stride your positive and negative qualities can be beneficial to mental health and your peace of mind.
Now let’s examine those 10 ways you can become a self-liker rather than a self-critic:
- Don’t be afraid to confront your failings. The Boyraz and Waits study showed that being able to think about your weaknesses doesn’t condemn you to a life of self-hatred.
- Step back and enjoy your accomplishments. When you’ve done something well, don’t be afraid to admit that you succeeded. It doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering: Having cooked a good meal, eat it with pleasure and allow any compliments from those you cooked for to sink in.
- Learn to look at the things you like about yourself in the mirror. Sure, your makeup isn’t perfect and that rash on your chin makes it look a little red. But what about the great job you did on your hair? If all else fails, find a mirror with better lighting than the bright fluorescents in your office.
- Go on a date with yourself. On the date, spend some time alone devoted to thinking about your experiences: Enjoy a movie or concert, or a meal at your favorite restaurant while you spend time reflecting on what’s going on around you. You can even laugh at your own jokes.
- Strive to be a better person, but don’t expect changes to happen all at once. You might be completely unhappy with your weight and can’t stand the thought that the pounds aren’t melting off faster. Give yourself a realistic timeline and measure yourself against smaller, achievable goals.
- Spend a weekend day or evening without worrying about how you look. Try a makeup-free Sunday or a grubby t-shirt Tuesday night. See what it’s like to be yourself without being concerned about impressing anyone else.
- Think about the past, but don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with regret. You wish like anything that you could turn back the clock and not have said the hurtful thing you said to your friend. Once you’ve uttered those words, though, you can’t unsay them. However, you may have learned something useful about yourself in the process and certainly can make every effort to apologize.
- Understand that no one is perfect. When you’re in low self-acceptance mode, you believe that everyone is better than you. It’s possible that others are better than you in certain ways, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person yourself. Instead of comparing yourself negatively, accept that fact, and then see if you can learn from it.
- Enjoy your personality, foibles and all. So you’re a little bit too meticulous and want everything to be perfect. When things don’t work out as you wish and you start to berate your weaknesses, stop and do a reality check. So you spilled coffee all over your brand-new tablecloth. OK, maybe you’re a bit clumsy. That doesn’t mean you’re worthless.
- Like “most” of yourself as much as you can. You’re may not reach 100% self-satisfaction, but maybe you can get to 75 or 80%. In the measure of self-acceptance that the Louisiana Tech team used, getting high scores meant saying you were happy with “most” of your personality traits.
Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.
Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne 2016
You hear the advice of “love yourself first” from so many sources throughout your life.
But what does that actually mean?
While I think that it’s wrong/damaging/ridiculous to tell people that they can’t be loved by others until they love themselves (*ahem*… of course you can… you not loving yourself doesn’t make someone else’s love for you not exist), there does seem to be a lack of solid, actionable advice on how to actually achieve a state of loving ourselves.
So, How Exactly Do You Love Yourself More?
In it’s simplest form, loving yourself comes down to your ACTIONS.
More specifically, loving yourself is about consistently carrying out actions that feel aligned with your heart/gut/intuition.
If you merely tell yourself that you’re working on loving yourself but you’re a workaholic drug abuser, existing on less than three hours of sleep per night, secretly resenting yourself for breaking that person’s heart a few years ago, and living off of fast food and energy drinks, well, you’re going to be sending a different message to your heart through those cumulative actions.
Imagine that there is a sensitive, loving, thin-skinned inner-child (say, 4-5 years old) who lives inside of you. Now imagine that you are responsible for taking care of this child.
What kinds of things would you do to take care of this child? To love them, honour them, cherish them, and occasionally protect them from the world?
I’m sure you already have a few ideas flooding your brain.
Now, conversely, what kinds of things could you do that would make this child feel neglected? Uncared for? Resented? Like they were a nuisance?
For this part of the process, a different set of behaviours are likely coming to you.
This inner child is your heart.
The more you love, cherish, and honour your inner child, the more they flourish, come alive, and feel safe and energetic.
The more you ignore, neglect, and abandon this inner child, the more your self-love and self-esteem will downward spiral.
So if we know that loving ourselves more comes down to our actions, what are some of the highest leverage actions we can take to make ourselves feel more loved?
11 Easy Ways To Actually Love Yourself More
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are eleven simple actions that you can start carrying out today in order to actually love yourself more.
1. Move often
When we move we allow the various forms of energy in our body the space to shift around.
If we’re couch potatoes, watch too much TV, or spend all of our day sitting in front of a computer, then our creative, emotional, sexual energies tend to get trapped in our bodies.
And when we’re chronically stagnant with our bodies, that stuck energy often turns into anxiety and sadness.
So instead of sitting in an office chair or couch all day, get up and move as often as you can.
Whether that’s getting up early and walking outside for a few minutes, or having a mini-dance party as a break from work, or going out and spending forty minutes in a gym… find some form of movement that feels compelling to you, and make it a priority.
2. Care about nutrition
The food that you put in your body is your fuel.
If you’re constantly putting in junk fuel, you’re going to feel like junk. On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re completely depriving yourself of foods that you derive enjoyment from, then you’ll feel like a robot that eats to live (as opposed to balancing it with some of the ‘live to eat’ side of the equation).
So eat clean. You already know what to do. Drink water, eat lots of veggies, nuts, seeds, and fruits, consume complex carbohydrates, and limit intake of any processed foods.
(Also, read this post on nutrition, and this post on blenders and green smoothies)
3. Limit the junk food that your brain consumes
Just like your body feels grumpy if you feed it awful things consistently, so too does your mood suffer when you feed your mind garbage.
– Stop watching the news. Somewhat depending on which country you live in, there’s a good chance that the majority of news that is presented to you is shitty, useless, and fear based. Stop consuming it as much as possible. Instead, consume the brain-nutrient equivalent of organic, nutritious information. Examples? Try this book, this website, and this page.
– Stop watching ‘reality TV.’ I used to watch Jersey Shore. Then I stopped because I felt gross when I watched it. It doesn’t serve you to watch people so you can secretly judge their behaviour and feel superior to them.
– Unfollow or unfriend people in your social media newsfeed that only spread negativity. I have a few thousand friends on Facebook but I only subscribe to less than 20 of them. Be as intentional about cultivating the information that you consume as the food that you put in your body. They both matter more than you think they do.
4. Invest in your sleep
You spend roughly a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well get good at it.
The way we sleep can either deprive us and deplete us, or it can energize and uplift us.
Get some high quality blackout curtains, limit any exposure to electronic light within two hours of going to bed, and keep any cell phones/computers/TV’s out of your bedroom. When the lights go out it’s time to cuddle or have sex, not check your Instagram feed.
5. Be intentional in how you spend your time
Enforce real boundaries in your life so that you carve out time for the things that matter the most to you.
Say no to people you don’t like spending time with. Say no to work projects/paths/opportunities that don’t serve you and your core values. Spend time with your favourite people on a regular basis. Carve out time in your calendar to make time for fun, lightness, and playfulness.
The more you honour yourself in how you spend your time, the more your inner child will feel seen, understood, and loved.
6. Regularly make time for rest and relaxation
Between all of your healthy meals, optimized sleep habits, and playfulness, you want to make sure you’re also allowing yourself the time and space to breathe and relax.
Take naps when you feel like it. Treat yourself to spa treatments when you want them. Let yourself soak in Epsom salt baths for an hour when the mood strikes you.
Rest and relaxation are vital in the self-care/self-love journey. Let your soul breathe. Occasionally allow yourself to have no plans.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a break, lie down on the floor, and just breathe.
(For more info/ideas regarding down time, check out this article on self-care)
7. Incorporate regular play into your life
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
One of the biggest changes that I’ve started to make in my life in the past year is re-prioritizing play into my life.
I took a play inventory (aka I sat down with myself and asked “What did I used to do for fun before life became so serious?”) and then started honouring the answers that came to me.
Ever since this revelation, I’ve started to take improv classes, take more photos, create more short films, I go skateboarding, and I’ve been going to the occasional dance class and dancing to Janet Jackson.
If play has taken a backseat to your very important, very stressful adult life, then you might need to check out this book on play, and re-prioritize some things.
8. Maintain an ongoing self-recognition list
Another thing that has helped me a lot over the past year is switching my mindset from “I’m always behind/I need to catch up/I’m not doing enough” over to “I’m doing so well.”
The highest leverage action step that I have taken to help myself accomplish this is to keep an ongoing self-recognition list.
It’s as simple as it sounds. I recommend you do it in one of two ways.
– Have a place where, every day, you answer the question “What am I recognizing myself for today?” with whatever thoughts come to mind (no matter how big or small the things that come to you are)
– Have an ongoing list where you write down your bigger achievements that are all trending towards one specific goal or are dedicated to one area of your life. An example could be an ongoing self-recognition list focused on your health goals, or your career building accomplishments. That way, when you look back, month over month, you’ll remember that you really have made a ton of progress in your life (even if it doesn’t always feel like it day to day).
Whichever one seems less intimidating and more beneficial, go for that one. Keep it simple. Just grab a journal and dedicate it towards this task, or start up a digital document on your phone or computer and start writing in it.
9. Spend time alone
Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or married, one of the best ways that you can cultivate a loving relationship with yourself is to regularly spend some time alone.
Regardless of your introvert or extrovert status, everyone can benefit from some genuine alone time.
Take yourself out to a restaurant by yourself (you can bring a journal/notepad/book with you for company if you need to).
Go to a movie by yourself. Take a lengthy walk in the morning. Lie on your bed and breathe deeply. Meditate in the evening for a few minutes.
Whatever alone time activity appeals to you, make it happen. You might be amazed at what thoughts and revelations bubble up for you when you give yourself the time and space to simply listen to yourself.
10. Forgive yourself for past self-perceived wrongdoings
One common barrier to self-love is that we all have some things in our past that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for.
Maybe we feel bad about how we treated an ex. Or we feel like we were too short with a family member, from a place of frustration or tiredness. Or maybe we have a whole streak of months/years in our lives that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for.
If any of these resonate with you, or if other past painful memories are popping up for you while reading this section, then some self-forgiveness work might do us some good in the realm of self-love.
You can journal it out, or you can meditate on your thoughts, or you can speak it out loud (to yourself, or to the people that you feel that you wronged when appropriate).
Having a mantra along the lines of “Even though ______ happened, I deeply and completely forgive myself for my actions. I did the best I could at the time, I couldn’t have known any better, and I will commit to acting differently in the future. I forgive myself entirely.”
Depending on what you’re forgiving yourself for and how much of an emotional wound there is for you, it can sometimes take weeks of this practice for it to really take hold in a deep and believable way… but it’s always worth it.
11. Invest in your most fulfilling relationships
Not only is spending time around your favourite people good for you, but investing your love into others (via acts of kindness and quality time spent together) also, in a roundabout way, funnels love into your relationship with yourself.
Love your closest friends, family members, and significant others fiercely and your self-love will magically grow as a by-product of being a good friend/sibling/child/lover to those who you’ve deemed to be worthy of your time.
Treating your favourite people with love and kindness makes you feel good in the same way that being intentional about how you spend your time (tip #5) makes you feel good. You’re essentially signalling to your heart/gut/inner child that “Yes, I care about you enough to put love into the places that I deem to be worthy of my time, attention, and love.” These are my core values, these are my core favourite people, and I will honour and respect all of them through my actions.
Loving Yourself, Made Easy
As always, get started with whichever tips seem either the easiest to you, or the most challenging, depending on where you are in your journey and what you’re looking to work on.
Start with one, focus on incorporating it into your life, and when you feel like you have a solid handle on integrating that habit, then start the work of adding another.
I wish you the best of luck in your self-love journey!
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. Looking for even more self love practices? Here are some additional resources that relate to many of the things that I mentioned in this post…
– 21 Of The Best Self Care Practices Ever
– How To Overhaul Your Entire Life In 5 Easy Steps
– 7 Simple Life Skills That Improve Everything
Pps. If you want to watch a quick video on exactly how to love yourself more, you can do so here.
8 Steps to Like Yourself (More)
Notice the word “like.” I’m not going to be so bold as to introduce eight steps that will have you love yourself. Baby steps, right? For some, self-love is a no-brainer. They grew up in homes where LOVE was the predominant four-letter word. Some possess too much, and like Vanity Smurf, are most comfortable with a mirror in hand. These are the loud talkers, who think that everyone 20 feet behind and ahead of them should hear what’s on their mind. I have been working toward self-like for 25 years now and think I have about 25 more to go before I’m truly comfortable in my own skin. I have lots and lots of exercises I use to get me smiling in the mirror instead of growling, gleaned from the bookshelves of self-help books I’ve read over the years and the lessons I take away from therapy sessions.
Here are a few of my favorites, some of the steps I’ve taken lately to like myself more. Maybe they will generate some amicable feelings in you, as well.
1. Lower Your Expectations
It’s easy to hate yourself when you keep falling short of your expectations. Last summer, when I stepped away from my corporate job, I felt as though I should still be able to make at least two-thirds of that salary as a freelance writer crafting mental-health pieces. So I signed on to an unrealistic number of contracts, giving myself approximately 2.5 hours to complete each piece. If I were able to crank out two to three articles a day, I could meet my salary expectation. Two things happened: my writing was horrible, because I didn’t have time to do any research or give much thought to the pieces, and I cried more than I wrote.
A friend of mine saw the pressure I was putting on myself and begged me to quit one of my gigs (as a depression expert of all things) to save my sanity. In the process of patching myself together again after my breakdown at that time, I realized that I needed to give myself realistic goals. I tripled my time allowance for each piece, so now if I get one done in less than 7.5 hours, I walk away with a feeling of accomplishment rather than defeat. I held on to some hourly consulting work — where I can charge a higher rate — to make the numbers work.
2. Read Your Self-Esteem File
My self-esteem file is a manila folder holding lots of warm fuzzies from friends, readers, teachers, and an occasional family member. It was an assignment from my therapist about eight years ago. She wanted me to write a list of my key strengths. I sat down with the piece of paper, and all I could come up with was thick hair, strong fingernails, and a well-proportioned nose. So she made me ask three of my best friends to list 10 characteristics they like about me. I wept when I read their lists and I stuck them into the folder that I labeled, “Self-Esteem File.” After that, any time anyone would compliment me on anything — “You’re a nice person, but we are firing you” — I’d write it down on a post-it (“nice person”), and stick it in there. My therapist told me she would like me to graduate to a place where I don’t need a self-esteem file, but I still don’t know how to generate the warm fuzzies myself, so I’m keeping it.
3. Talk to Yourself as a Friend
Every once in awhile, I’ll catch myself self-bashing and pose the question, “Is that what I would say to Libby, Mike, Beatriz, or Michelle?” If I talked to them the way I talked to myself, the friendship would have ended years ago. No. I tell Mike, “Go easy on yourself. You’re doing an amazing job!” I tell Beatriz, “You’re under a ton of stress, no wonder why a few things can’t be attended to right now.” I tell Libby to listen to her feelings, and Michelle that she is heroic.
4. Picture Yourself
In one outpatient program I participated in for severe depression, we were instructed to visualize ourselves all better. I pictured a very serene woman in a pink sundress holding a rose, which symbolized healing. The expression in her eyes articulated true peace, as if nothing could shake her serenity. Later, in the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) I took last month, we were asked to do the same. Once again, I pictured this woman in pink who wasn’t worried about looking bloated or if she was going to be able to sleep that night or how to deal with the negative intrusive thought of the day. It was as if she was anchored in the moment and held a secret that would make all of my obsessions seem foolish. Sometimes on my run or during my meditations, I will go back to that image, and she brings me peace.
5. Discover Yourself
In Anneli Rufus’ delightful book “Unworthy,” she lists 10 hidden self-esteem booby traps and how to dismantle them. One such trap, nonidentity, is fixed by figuring out who you are. “Your post-self-loathing self is not some total stranger,” she writes. “He or she is you, the true you, found again.” She then tells the story of a friend of hers who realized one day that all the clothes in her closet didn’t match her personality at all. So she donated most of her wardrobe to charity and started over. This anecdote reminded me of the afternoon my not-yet husband told me we should help each other with our wardrobes.
“You go through all my clothes, and put whatever shirts or pants you don’t like into this plastic bag,” he instructed me. “I’ll do the same with yours.”
An hour later, I had one shirt in the bag. He had nearly every article of clothing I owned inside his bag. Most of them were my mom’s. When she quit smoking, she gained 50 pounds and sent me all of her clothes. I was grateful because a) I was cheap and hated to shop, and b) I didn’t have enough self-esteem to think that I deserved my own clothes, skirts that didn’t have to be pulled in at my waist with a safety pin and made with other fabrics than polyester.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that afternoon was profound in that someone loved me enough to convince me that I was a person who was worthy of having her own style.
“We might not find our post-self-loathing selves in magazines, waving to us from fashion spreads,” writes Rufus. “But we can ‘hear’ our true ‘languages’ in books, films, pictures, nature, music, laughter: wherever real or pretend people are. Make it a game — a sacred secret game. What ‘speaks’ to you? Names? Colors? Landscapes? Lines of dialogue? Each is a starting point. Each is a tiny light.”
6. Offer Yourself Lovingkindness
I am referring here to the kind of lovingkindness meditation that Sharon Salzberg describes in her book, “Real Happiness”:
The practice of lovingkindness meditation is done by silently repeating certain phrases that express kind wishes for ourselves, then for a series of others. The customary phrases are usually variations on May I Be Safe (or May I Be Free From Danger), May I Be Happy, May I Be Healthy, May I Live with Ease — may daily life not be a struggle. The “May I” is not meant to be begging or beseeching but is said in the spirit of generously blessing ourselves and others: May I Be Happy. May You Be Happy.
During the MBSR course I mentioned above, we participated in several lovingkindness meditations. When offering lovingkindness to ourselves, we were instructed to put a hand over our heart if our inner critic was especially loud or if we were stuck in self-judging mode. Although I felt a tad stupid, this gesture did seem to invoke some compassion for myself.
7. Ditch Regret
Sometimes our self-hatred is deeply embedded in regret. We just can’t let go of that STUPID thing we did in 2004 or last week. Regret is another of the 10 hidden self-esteem booby traps Rufus lists in “Unworthy.” She asks an important question: “What would it take to not look back?” Then she tells the story of the musician Orpheus, in Greek mythology, who is destroyed by the death of his bride Eurydice. Hades and Persephone, rulers of the Underworld, tell Orpheus that he is allowed to bring Eurydice back to the world of the living if he meets one condition: throughout the whole journey, Orpheus must walk in front of Eurydice and never look back. Even one look will thrust Eurydice back to Hades forever. Rufus writes:
Resist looking back in regret as if your current and future life and the current and future lives of your dearest ones depended on it. Because it does. They do. Like all bad habits, this one can be broken. It might take prayer. It might take conditioning techniques. (As soon as you catch yourself regretting, firmly turn your attention to something else, something positive: a song, pictures of your “happy place,” whatever you would like to learn, real or imaginary tennis games.) … Today. Is the first day. Right here and right now, we must simply say okay. Face forward and walk on. This is the bravest act.
8. Be Held in Prayer
In her book, “Radical Acceptance,” meditation teacher and psychotherapist Tara Brach tells the story of one of her clients, Marian, whose second husband used to lock Marian’s daughters inside their bedroom and demand oral sex. When Marian learned of this, she was crushed with guilt. Afraid she might harm herself, she sought counsel from an elderly Jesuit priest who had been one of her teachers in college. Brach explains:
When she calmed down, he gently took one of her hands and began drawing a circle in the center of her palm. “This,” he said, “is where you are living. It is painful — a place of kicking and screaming and deep, deep hurt. This place cannot be avoided, let it be.”
Then he covered her whole hand with his. “But if you can,” he went on, “try also to remember this. There is a greatness, a wholeness that is the kingdom of God, and in THIS merciful space, your immediate life can unfold. This pain,” and he again touched the center of her palm, “is held always in God’s love. As you know both the pain and the love, your wounds will heal.”
I was moved by that story because in those moments in which I’ve hated myself the most — on the brink of taking my own life — I have felt the loving presence of God holding me together. Like Marian, I was able to find the way back to my heart by being held in the infinite compassion of God. If you are uncomfortable with the concept of God, you can reach out to the universe or some other being to hold you in compassion.
Artwork by the talented Anya Getter.
Get a Hit of Self-Esteem: How to Start Liking Yourself
Joanna Moore has featured a fair amount over the past couple of months on Sheep Dressed Like Wolves. I interviewed her in the Members Haven about overcoming shyness and finding your confidence. I’ve really enjoyed seeing her voice and website (Twisted Sleeve) develop.
I’m now very excited to tell you about her new online course, Self-Esteem DIY: How to Start Liking Yourself.
She has produced this wonderful program that is aimed at helping shy people, those who don’t like themselves, and/or suffer from a lack of self-esteem/confidence. While it has been produced with girls in mind (the audience that Jo knows best!) I can absolutely recommend it for guys who resonate with this stuff as well.
The course provides an inspirational framework, challenging you to consider the way that you view yourself and the world, and is structured with a very practical foundation with some searching and probing questions to explore.
Jo describes DIY Self-Esteem: How To Start Liking Yourself as “the manual you were never given”.
It’s a step-by-step course that will help you to get to know and like yourself, so you can become the happy, healthy, and confident you you’ve always dreamed of being. Whether it’s your nose, your shyness, or your inability to say ‘no’ that drives you mad, DIY Self-Esteem will help you see that, actually, you’re kind of alright.
Because self-esteem isn’t just some luxury feeling reserved for skinny girls with perfect hair. It’s trying on a dress and knowing you look pretty. It’s laughing with your friends instead of worrying what they’re thinking. It’s shrugging off slip-ups because who cares if you make mistakes?
It’s liking yourself completely, unconditionally, always, not despite of but because of your flaws.
What is Self-Esteem?
In abstract counsellor language, self-esteem is about self-respect and self-trust. It’s about liking yourself in the same way that you like your best friend or your pet. It’s about smiling at your weird habits instead of slating them. It’s about saying ‘What are you like?’ when you slip up, instead of punishing yourself. It’s about knowing you’re a good person no matter what you do, rather than treating yourself like a waste of space no matter what you do.
Since we’re all different, there are parts of all of us that don’t meet the ‘ideal’ criteria set by society. We all have ‘flaws’ in this respect and will all find things to envy in other people and not like about ourselves. Knowing this is a very important place to start.
“Working hard is really important, but there is something that matters even more…Believing in yourself.” – Harry Potter
Some of the key life-changing takeaways are how to:
- Separate your self-worth from what you do
- Learn more about your personality type and see your lack of self-esteem in the context of who you are deep down
- Practice spotting the negative and unhelpful mindsets that you adopt
- Respond to yourself when you succumb to self-doubt and a lack of confidence
- Understand your unique style and taste, and see it as an exciting and valuable thing
- Process your natural desires, beliefs, and the things you enjoy in order to embrace, understand and accept yourself
- Everyone will get different things from this course
Joanna tells her story in an extremely candid and inspiring way about how she decided to get intentional about liking herself. She even had it as a point on her bucket list. Hear more about why she started Twisted Sleeve on her welcome video:
Through this course she takes us through the stages of learning to like ourselves. And not just because it’s a nice thing to do but for some very specific and encouraging reasons:
1. You’re stuck with you
We have one life and we have one self. If we spend out whole lives hating what we are no one is going to come and give us another one.
2. If you don’t like yourself, you’ll hold yourself back
If we struggle to like ourselves then we will not believe in ourselves. If we don’t believe in who we are then we will fail to see the potential for what we can be, do, and acheive. We wont apply for the jobs we really want, make friends with the people we would like to get to know, and look after our bodies properly. The way you see something and the value you ascribe to it determines how you treat it. If you don’t like yourself then there is no reason to treat yourself in a positive way.
3. Not liking yourself is exhausting
It takes a lot of energy to pretend to be someone you’re not. This is precisely what we do if we don’t like ourselves. In rejecting our true essense and deeper sense of who we are we have to put all of our effort into behaving how we think we should. Faking perfection and hiding from yourself is completely exhausting.
4. If you like yourself, you can do whatever you want (kinda)
Have you ever got so fed up with caring what other people think of you that you’re like, ‘That’s it! I don’t care anymore! I’m going to dye my hair/quit college/get my nose pierced and everyone else can just put up with it!’ and then not actually died your hair/quit college/got your nose pierced? Yeah, me too.
You need to feel like someone somewhere thinks you’re good enough. If you don’t think your friends and family are going to approve of your blue hair, and you don’t think you’re awesome with or without blue hair, you’re not going to feel like anyone likes you.
5. There’s only one of you
Have you ever heard those statistics about the tiny chances of you existing? Even once your parents met, the chance of that particular sperm and that particular egg coming together to create you was tiny. There was a ridiculously high chance that you wouldn’t exist. And yet you do. Wouldn’t it be a bit of a waste to spend your life hating yourself and trying to be someone else? Wouldn’t it make way more sense to see what this one-off human being can do?!
“This whole program has helped me to start liking myself more. Really. My smiles are more real. I feel like I’m less stressed talking to people and at some moments I talk and I feel like is that me? Yes, that’s me and then my whole inner being smiles 🙂 During these weeks I finally began to feel everything that everyone has already told me since the day I was born. That because of the fact I’m unique I already have worth. I never felt those thoughts and I finally began to feel it and that’s just an awesome feeling.
When I received a compliment before the course, I had always difficulties accepting it. And it’s still not the most natural thing for me. But I don’t feel like I need to hate myself anymore for receiving a compliment. I let it build my confidence instead of destroying it. Because it’s not that I’m totally in love with myself right now. But I am finally start to feel that I have a lot of worth. I’m noticing that I love myself more. It’s like I’m becoming less anxious and that such a wonderful thing to notice:)!!!!!!!!!
Jo has shown me that being me is something to be proud of. And although I didn’t hate that side with everything inside of me, I have definitely learned to appreciate/love it more. I cannot really tell you in words how it has been changed to be honest. But I know I judge myself less on my actions and I’m nicer to myself. I really enjoyed this course and I gained confidence.”
“It turns out most of my problems stem from not liking myself in some way. I’d never really got that before because it’s not as if I hate myself, but covering it in the course made me realise that I do tend to devalue myself a lot and that makes it harder to be myself around other people.”
“Liking yourself gives your life a new dimension and it’s just such a joy to wake up and not beat yourself up, not weigh yourself, not worry about the next diet, or the size of your jeans. This kind of freedom is beyond explanation and it’s one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.”
– Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
- Total: 29
If Self-Love Is Hard, Just Focus on Liking Yourself
If you struggle with loving yourself, you cannot have a healthy relationship with others. We cannot love anyone else, or offer ourselves up for love, without first showing ourselves that compassion, and filling our own needs.
But sometimes it’s really hard to foster self-love. What comes more easily, at times, is self-criticism, self-doubt, lowered self esteem.
So first, we must become aware of the thoughts and words — to ourselves.Because the things we tell ourselves have even more impact than the things others say to us.
But sometimes even loving ourselves is hard.
And when it feels difficult, sometimes the first step that makes more sense is liking ourselves — accepting and showing ourselves compassion.
What we crave most from others is actually what we need to be giving ourselves.
Lauren Barber wrote,
“If you are in a place of self-loathing and self-hatred right now… don’t pressure yourself into unconditional love, because the very fact you can’t force it upon yourself will only frustrate and hurt you more.
If you put too much emphasis on love right now, you will simply end up suppressing the intense resistance that comes up and burying it deep within, only for it to rear its ugly head at a later date. Liking you right now feels a little more attainable than love.”
Demonstrate self-acceptance (i.e., self-compassion)
“Accepting where we are right now is absolutely imperative in our quest for self-like… If you don’t accept yourself now, you still won’t accept yourself when you do get the ideal job/dream body/loving partner/lottery.
Accepting that where you are right now is okay is incredibly powerful and an integral part of learning to like yourself. You don’t have to love where you are; you just have to be okay with it as a starting point.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop striving for more in your life. But if you can like the place you are in now, then you are far more likely to love the way your life evolves.”
Richelle Ludwig wrote,
“For example; instead of saying, ‘I love my body,’ say, ‘I am working toward accepting, loving, and honoring my body.’ It’s much easier to believe this when you are in the process of getting there.”
Love and accept everything — not just the physical, but the emotional.
Accept yourself as a whole person, and accept without criticism. This does mean accepting things as “flaws” or “darkness” — on the contrary, compassion means acceptance without casting judgment. There is no “flaw” or “darkness” — your anxieties, insecurities, doubts, disgust, disappointment, envy — etc.None of it is “bad.” It merely is. And self-love means you regard it without judgement. Moving on.
Self love starts with self-like, and self-like means acceptance, compassion; letting yourself be without disclaimers or stipulations, watching with amused interest in the way we would watch anything in life unfold, without projection or attempts to control, merely appreciation and kindness.
5 Reasons to Love Yourself Just the Way You Are
When was the last time you compared yourself to someone? Probably not long ago. We live in a society that pushes us to compare ourselves with others. Not only that, it also encourages us to rely on external approval to feel good about what we do. However, all this is slowly undermining our self-esteem.
To love yourself just the way you are doesn’t mean that you give up on improving yourself. Rather, it means that you understand and feel that you have value right now. So here, comparisons can give us information, even motivation. But it becomes negative when we do it too much, resulting in permanent dissatisfaction and envy.
1. Let’s use our own resources to get what we want
It’s ironic that we’re always impressed by people with big personalities. We like unique people who stand out and don’t pretend to be who they aren’t. Strangely, we admire that quality in them while not seeing that maybe we have our own unique qualities too. What if we used them a new way to get or be what we want?
Let’s look at others as a source of inspiration. They can give us ideas, we can even imitate part of what they’re like, but combined with parts of us and depending on what we need. You are not like others and that is good! Stop hiding what makes you different out of fear, shame and insecurity. Try to love yourself just the way you are. Become yourself.
2. Compare as much as you want, but you’ll never become them
Despite all the painful comparisons we make, we cannot become that person. You have your own life, you like different things, you are original. Even though you pretend, your personality isn’t the same as anyone else’s.
Stop focusing on your unmet desires, stop hitting your head against the unmovable wall. Granted, it’ll be hard because all around you people will be comparing you to others. But you are you, not them!
When you realize that all the comparisons in the world won’t give you what you so long for, it’s time to love yourself just the way you are. You are special, unique. Why would you want to lose that? It doesn’t make any sense.
3. Let’s accept the light as well as the shadows
No one is perfect and neither are we. However, sometimes we wrongly perceive that others are perfect. Let’s think about the times we’ve held back tears until we could be alone to cry, so we won’t look weak. So people may think that we’re doing well, when we’re actually falling apart. So they won’t know to help us.
This same thing may be happening inside of the “perfect” people we see. Because each person has light inside, but also shadows. When you love yourself just the way you are, you’ll learn to accept yourself. Stop beating yourself up for not being a perfect person. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Love yourself just the way you are and you will be free.
4. Decide on your own values
When you’re little you accept the values of the people closest to you, usually your parents. However, these values aren’t yours, even if you’ve adopted them. How can you tell? Well, when they contradict what you do in your life.
For example, you might be very late all the time but hold the value of punctuality. You might be living at your parents’ house at the age of 30, but you have a great desire to be independent. When you feel two opposing forces pull at you, there are values in you that are not yours.
Becoming aware of this will give you a chance to decide on your own values and let the ones that don’t belong to you go, and not feel bad about it. After all, we don’t all have the same values. So you’ll start doing what you want and not what others want you to do. You don’t have to be the same as anyone, not even the members of your family. You are an individual, and don’t forget it.
5. Loving ourselves will give us the ability to love others
If you don’t love yourself just the way you are, how can you love others just the way they are? It’s just another example of self-deception. It’s like when we think we can love, value or be sincere with someone if we are not like that with ourselves.
In order to give something to others, we must first start with ourselves. For instance, if you love yourself just the way your are, you’ll be much more tolerant with others and how they think. This is a very good thing, and you’ll see the rewards of it, too.
Can you think of any other reasons to love yourself just the way you are? As you can see, doing so will free us from a lot of pain, pain that we never chose but for some reason kept feeding. Treating ourselves harshly, beating ourselves up for our mistakes, and forgetting to celebrate our own successes.
Sometimes it’s hard to change your perspective on things, especially when everything around you is so firmly anchored in a worldview that has hurt you and your self-esteem so much.
However, when we accept ourselves, we will realize how strong we are and then there won’t be much that can stop us. If you love yourself just the way you are, you’re taking an excellent step towards feeling free and good about yourself. What are you waiting for?
Do You Find It Hard To Respect Yourself? Why?
We all crave respect, no matter who we are. Yet it is very difficult to respect others when you don’t even respect yourself.
It’s been said, “You can’t like another person, until you like yourself.”
So let’s look at this…How can you show yourself the same kind of respect you want to show others and want them to show you?
When you don’t like or love yourself, much less respect yourself, you will always find a way to live your life blaming other people for all the pain you’re feeling, resulting in your life being consumed by anger, frustration and depression.
Katie commented with a very clear definition of self-respect, calling it “a pride in self.” “To have self-respect is to take yourself for who you are to wake up and forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made. If you focus on the bad actions that you’ve done, you cave yourself into darkness and can’t see the good in life, which is what a lot of teenagers do. When you are down, try to remember the good that you’ve done and not the bad, because focusing on negative thoughts leads you to nothingness in the end. It’s hard to overcome some self-respect issues, but when you’re able to look in the mirror and smile and tell yourself you’re a beautiful person, it is an amazing feeling.” Katie is right, a healthy self-respect is based on viewing yourself in a positive light.
8 ways to Help You Build a Healthy Respect for Yourself
- Don’t let other people’s opinions about you control you. There are many people who allow themselves to be forever shaped by what others have said or done to them. These people easily become approval addicts. They never really tune into their own needs. It’s like they are saying, “Please love me, so I can love myself. Please accept me, so I can accept myself.” These people will always feel a shortage of self-respect because they never allow themselves to break free from the grip of others.
- Don’t speak badly about yourself. Don’t let your mistakes or weaknesses define who you are. Don’t say, “I’m a loser, no one loves me, I hate myself.” You will soon believe what you say. On the other hand, if you say to yourself, “I am a person worth loving and respecting,” you will start to believe it about yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and the qualities you have to offer others. Ericka has some insight into how she has learned to respect herself. “I made friends with people like me, got rid of friends that put me down, and before I knew it, I was happier than ever before. No one can truly understand the way you think, the way you do things and act. Being different is a blessing, not a curse. So, respecting yourself is to love who you are and love your personality.”
- Don’t let anybody force you to be or do anything you don’t want to do or be, simply to gain their approval or friendship. There is an old saying that says, “To yourself, always be true.” This isn’t a me-first kind of thinking that reeks of arrogance. It means not letting other people tell you what to do or think. Cynthia agrees with Ericka that to respect yourself, you have to know who you are. “You need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and emotions really well. You need to get more familiar with yourself and not become something that others want you to be, because that does not in any way show that you respect yourself cause you’d be willing to change just to please .” I agree with this, unless we’re talking about God or your parents encouraging you to be the person they see you have the potential of becoming.
- Don’t violate your own moral codes. There will always be people who treat themselves with poor self-respect, because they have done disrespectful things or violated their own moral code and hate themselves for it. There is a saying among some psychologists which states, “If you think better, you will act better. And if you act better, you will feel better.” I couldn’t agree more. The opposite is also true. If you think poorly, you will act poorly. And if you act poorly, you will feel poorly. Your self-respect will be extremely low and unhappiness will be your constant companion.
- Control your emotions. A part of respecting yourself is learning how to handle your emotions without causing more problems for your self. When we let our rage and hurt out in a damaging way, it only causes us to embarrass ourselves, destroy relationships, and leads to low self-respect.
- Increase your knowledge. Develop interests and passions. Find a hobby. Learn as much as you can. Learning about things going on in the world around you will expand your brainpower and understanding, and will let you speak intelligently to a wide variety of people you meet. As you explore all the different opportunities this world has to offer, you will learn more about what you personally have to offer back to the people around you. There are so many people who live in such a small world, they feel others would never value their opinions and what they know. They see themselves as stupid or dumb. The way you see yourself is the way you’ll act. It happens every time.
- Seek a relationship with God. To know that God loves and respects you is the very foundation of self-respect. After all, God knows all about us and still loves us. Shelby has learned that to respect herself she has to try and see herself as God sees her.
He created all of us special. Have you ever made something, like drawing a picture, and it was just amazing? And you were so proud of it, even though you didn’t think you had it in you to make that? Now take that and imagine how God must feel about creating us! Since I’ve looked at myself that way I’ve seen a whole different me in the mirror every day. Even without my makeup! -Katie
- Be responsible. Do the things you need to do. Janice commented with a list of practical ways to show self-respect: Take care of yourself. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, dress nicely (not to bring attention, either over-fashionably or sloppily), don’t overeat (or undereat!), eat what is good for you, and drink water. More importantly, to take care of yourself, read your Bible and pray. Just doing what you know is the right thing to do will cause your self-respect to skyrocket–whether it’s doing your homework, chores around the house, or showing up to work on time.
Here are a few more quick ideas about self-respect:
- Respect others.
- Be quick to forgive others.
- Be friendly to everyone you meet. Friendly people are never miserable people.
- Hang around encouraging people who are doing positive things.
- Don’t lie. When you continually tell the truth, you give yourself the priceless gift of a clear conscience.
- Make good decisions.
Lisa wrapped up what I’ve been trying to say in one just powerful comment. “I never thought that I needed to learn to respect myself but I realize that almost everyone is lacking in this area, no matter if you have thousands of friends or just one. In the end, everyone is looking to be accepted.”
It’s important that you pay attention to the negative self-talk that is going on. To learn how to protect yourself from negative self-talk read this blog.