Self-love is like a flower; it needs to be watered and taken care of to bloom. But it often gets confused with being narcissist or selfish. Well, that isn’t the case! Do you know why you are asked to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others in an airplane emergency? It’s because you need to survive first to help others; if you die in the process, the game ends. This is exactly what self-love is- To pour your love for others, you first need to understand how to embrace self-love.
Each of us needs to show how much we care for each other and care for ourselves in the process.Diana, Princess of Wales
What does self-love mean?
Self Love is what is left when you let go of all the ways you hate yourself. Self-Love can’t be quantified just as love can’t be quantified. Self-love is the unconditional love and respect you have for yourself and your identities. It is embracing your abilities and feeling content by the good you have rather than whining about the shortcomings. It is important to understand that self-love is not simply feeling good about yourself or doing things that make you feel good at the moment; rather self-love is the deep sense of appreciation that you have for yourself and it nurtures and is simultaneously nurtured by your actions. You love yourself so you follow your bliss, and love yourself even more. Self-love is the desire for the highest good of the self.
Do you feel this about yourself? Do you respect yourself as an individual and care like you would for a loved one? Answer honestly, not to me but yourself and you’ll know where you stand.
How to love yourself?
Understanding and embracing self-love is not easy especially when you have lived your life a certain way. You can’t simply change the way you live and your opinions. When someone tells you to simply love yourself it’s like telling a kid to make his food (unless the kid’s a prodigy). It is much more complex. We live in a world where we are always busy running behind materialistic things, and to take a step back and rethink has got to be tough but you need to begin somewhere, right?
Here are a few things that help you begin your walk to the path of self-love. It’s easy but you can’t take them for granted! These only work if you are willing to work and love yourself.
1. Accept yourself
When we are young we care too much about the way we look. Most of the time it is difficult to embrace self-love because you can’t accept the way you are! We don’t like our reflection, what we see in the mirror, and hate ourselves for things we have no control over. You need to accept the things that you can’t control. I’ll tell something even more interesting- These things don’t even matter! You become desirable not because of the way you look but by your actions and abilities. So stop hating yourself for the things that will take you nowhere. Focus on yourself and love yourself. The glow you get in unmatchable.
2. Give yourself a break for self-love
We can treat ourselves badly sometimes. We beat ourselves to run after money, loving others, or working hard. Try to take a break for a little while. Be alone and enjoy some ‘me-time’. Introspect yourself- what is it that you are beating yourself for? Is it worth the mental torment? Well if the answer is no then you know what to do. Situations are bound to get hard sometimes. Life is not all vanillas and chocolates and taking a break when it’s not maybe the best thing you can do for yourself sometimes. Go trekking or hill stations alone or with a bunch of strangers who won’t hamper your meantime. It will give you the strength to embrace self-love and face the rough patches ahead.
3. Stop comparing yourself
Comparing yourself with others is the heaviest factor that affects your self-esteem and hampers self-love. All we do is focus on others’ successes and in the process beat our self for our shortcomings. Everyone is different and you are unique. It’s the difference that will help you stand out in the world with 7.8 billion people! Embrace that difference. Stop seeing only the sugar coat. Who knows what’s beneath and what it took for them to be there. They must have started somewhere and now it’s your time to begin.
4. Make an accomplishment list to truly embrace self-love
Now that you have stopped comparing yourself you need something else to shift your focus on. What’s better than feeling proud of the things you have accomplished till now? I take pride in everything I do. It can be big and it can be small but it’s still an accomplishment and a success. It makes me feel that if I can do a small thing then with a little bit of faith and hard work bigger goals can be achieved as well. This little step of reminding yourself of your accomplishments now and then will open a whole new spectrum of self-love for you.
5. Learn how to say ‘No’
Now, this is very important if you want to fully understand self-love. You can’t always put yourself second for others. Not everyone out there is looking out for you. They will use you and walk all over you in a blink. This has happened to a lot and it doesn’t mean that you are weak but it simply means that you put yourself out for others too much. Learn to say ‘no’ to people’s favors if you do not wish to. You need to able to keep your thoughts freely in front of others if you want to love yourself. Don’t give others a chance to trample all over you instead understand the basic principle of self-love and ask yourself “Do I really want to do it?” If the answer is ‘no’ say NO!
6. Prioritize yourself over others for self-love
This is similar to saying ‘NO’ except this time you have to work on making yourself a priority. Instead of doing every action based on someone else’s preferences try doing something solely for yourself, the things that give you joy. Try doing it once i.e. do something for yourself and the bliss and joy are so addictive that you wouldn’t have to worry about it the next time. Look out for your happiness and care for yourself the same way you would look out for your loved ones.
7. Stop expecting love from others and love yourself
Stop expecting love from others before you love yourself. If you don’t love your own self, how do you expect someone else to love it?
We expect the love we think we deserve.
Believe it or not, self Love is the key to all your happiness. In our glum moments, we sometimes think that nobody loves us. Well, how can they? Try loving and respecting yourself once and you’ll get the love you think you never deserved.
8. Forgive yourself
An important stop on the way to self-love is self-forgiveness. We punish our self a long time for something wrong we do. Even for our smallest mistakes, we make our self feel like we are the stupidest creature alive on earth. What would you do if your loved one had committed the same silly mistakes? We would forgive them in a heartbeat then why not for you? Forgive and move on. Life is a maze where you are bound to make some wrong turns but it is important to find the right turn rather than crying on the same spot.
9. Mirror work for self-love
This might seem the silliest of all the ways talked above but it might work wonders for you. Every morning when you are dressing up or brushing your teeth try to say a few positive things about yourself. “You are an amazing person”, “you will face whatever comes today” or you are the master, make your own script. Try doing this. Say things that you want to hear from others, say them to yourself. This might work for you and you may feel a boost in your self-esteem or a little laugh after doing something silly isn’t that bad either, is it?
10. Invest in yourself
Talking about silly, you should invest and spend on yourself from time to time. Who are you saving for? Life is unexpected and you don’t take anything with you so why only work to save? Don’t forget why you started working in the first place. It was to make you feel good and happy. You don’t have to be a part of the horse race all the time. Invest in yourself-your time and your money. Buy good clothes, eat good food, and take solo trips and try something new all the time to stir up your life. Whatever you learn in this phase will come in handy one day or the other.
Why is it important to understand and embrace self-love?
You might think that self-love isn’t worth the effort but it is and it always will be. Not only does embracing self-love help you feel content but new studies suggest that being kind and compassionate towards yourself can also improve your health in significant ways. The chief author Dr. Hans Kirschner in the study explained, “The findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important and healing”. If this isn’t a good enough reason to believe in self-love than what is!
Loving others can be easy but loving yourself is what is most important in this selfish world. Practicing self-love doesn’t demand any complicated inclusion of rules and regulations from other people, what it really needs is to accept yourself, your flaws, inabilities, abilities and not to be cruel to yourself by setting too many boundaries. Everything should start with self-belief and confidence that you are worthy of respect and appreciation. Self-love fills you with positivity and allows you to take a risk to do something new because when you love yourself you back yourself and your skills and forgive yourself for the mistakes. Self Love is the aid that will let you shine in the world. This is what will make you unique and the faster you understand it, the better.
Love can change. God forbid but the people that love you may leave you behind someday but you know what won’t change? Your love for you. It will stay with you till the end of time and you don’t have to share it. It was yours, to begin with, you nurtured it, you let it bloom and now it will go with you. Self-love is what will strengthen you to stay strong in hard times. Always remember- Self-love is not narcissistic, it’s not selfish and it’s not egotistical. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.Charles Bukowski
Suggested read: How to take the first step and achieve success.