Your distant aunt can’t stop raving about how she learned this pious and holy concept of self-love she learned at her wellness retreat. Your TikTok and Instagram feeds are filled with influencers preaching tips on how to love yourself. And at least half of your friend-circle has been throwing around the term as if it’s something that we are all doing now.
Figuring out what self-love means and actually practicing it is hard.
We live in a world that continuously instills a sense of competition within all of us. We are taught to develop comparison as the default setting in our brains. This pressure becomes the all-too-consuming reality of our lives.
If you ever really want to break through this in-built competitive and perfectionism streak, self-love is your only way out.
At its very core, learning how to love yourself means appreciating and valuing yourself for who you truly are. It’s a combination of the love and respect you have for yourself. It also includes all the actions you take for yourself because you prioritize yourself every day.
If you’re rolling your eyes now, it’s time you start believing the hype and try to find answers to the persistent ‘How do I practice self-love’ questions!
In this post, we will dive deeper into the concept of self-love and understand how to love yourself when you don’t know how. Let’s get started.
What Is Self-Love?
Self-love is the unshakeable belief that you accept you deserve love, care, respect, and belongingness, regardless of the circumstances. Self-love is actionable. It’s a verb. Self-love is the constant commitment where you show and stand up for yourself no matter what (even on the days you don’t want to).
This does not mean that self-love is something that you can eventually master. It’s not a destination. It does not guarantee you will always feel on top of the world. You will undoubtedly have days where you won’t feel good. There will be days when you will feel insecure about every part of yourself.
Yet, even on these days, learning how to love yourself means taking care of yourself. It means holding yourself in a respectful regard, forgiving yourself for your mistakes, and addressing your life in the present moment. By learning how to love yourself, you are able to identify your values and focus on what’s important to you. It lays the framework and foundation for how you love other people and defines your relationships.
So, How Can We Love Ourselves?
Now that you’ve understood what self-love is, it’s time to move to the actionable part. How do you actually practice self-love?
We are sure that you understand that it’s not like you pat yourself on the back for waking up at the right time, and that’s it – you are walking on clouds, the world is happy, and you are basking in positivity.
Learning how to practice loving yourself is more challenging and much more complicated than that. Here are the nine most effective and non-intimidating tips on how to practice self-love and acceptance to help you get started. Let’s dive in.
1. Get to know your emotions better (especially the big ones).
Learning how to practice self-love and acceptance has a lot to do with noticing and understanding your emotions rather than dismissing them. The latter is often the case with uncomfortable emotions because they are extremely painful.
However, no correct answer to ‘How do you love yourself?’ begins without accepting the whole spectrum of emotions you feel. Your emotions are cues that will help you know yourself better.
Your emotions offer knowledge about what makes you happy, loved, sad, and pretty much everything else. And knowing all this will help you. Because how can we love ourselves if we don’t know who we are in the first place?
2. Define what self-love means to you.
Self-love is a complicated concept. It can mean a lot of different things to people, and therefore, before learning how to love yourself, it’s imperative that you define the idea.
Self-love is different from being ‘in love’ with yourself. Blame it on mainstream media, but most of our notions about love are clouded by this fairytale idea that everything needs to be perfect. And if you apply the same ideas to self-love, it just isn’t going to be realistic.
Therefore, if the term ‘love’ feels too much to you, start working toward neutrality and acceptance first.
3. Keep a check on the negative self-talk.
“I don’t like how I look right now.”
“I didn’t work hard enough.”
“I think my success is just pure luck.”
If these sentences sound familiar, we have got something to talk about.
Having a harsh inner critic is tough. We spend too much time focusing on the negative. This obstructs our judgment and disrupts our regular lives. On some days, the inner critic can be louder than ever and restrict you from feeling true happiness and joy.
This is why the way you talk to yourself matters. And therefore, one of the most important tips in how to love yourself mentally is to do away with this self-criticism and hate.
You don’t need to dish out compliments to yourself if it feels unnatural. In the beginning, just acknowledging and stopping the negative self-talk is enough.
4. Say ‘no’ whenever you feel like no.
Nothing speaks more about respect and care than setting the right boundaries.
We are too often consumed by the idea of being everything to everyone. Therefore, we tend to overextend and constantly be present all at once. In the process, you end up disregarding your mental health and well-being.
However, setting the right boundaries means putting your needs above other people. When you are assertive and vocal about your needs, you convey the message to other people as well. Boundaries tell people that you deserve to be treated with respect. Therefore, if you want to learn how to love yourself and be happy, say ‘no’ whenever you feel like it and prioritize yourself.
5. Take a breath and slow down.
We live in a world that constantly looks down upon taking a break. We are taught to keep running in the pursuit of growth and improvement. And while this is all true, taking a break is equally important.
An integral part of learning how to love yourself unconditionally is to slow down and catch a breath whenever possible. You are a human, after all, and we all need rest.
If you are struggling to figure out how to love yourself when you don’t know how this break time can help you get a much-needed perspective. Use this time to find new hobbies or engage in activities that make you happy.
6. Accept that you are enough.
One of the many reasons self-love is hard is that we spend so much time being in our shoes that we forget why we are exceptional at the end of the day. We start taking what we bring to the table for granted. We refuse to see the goodness inside of us. We look at the world and ourselves from a skewed perspective, constantly making us feel unworthy.
So, here’s a much-needed reminder for you!
You are kind and beautiful. You are smart, brave, brilliant, and compassionate. You are pure magic, and no one can fill your space on any table.
Wherever you are reading this from, we want you to know that you are fully enough and do not let anyone (not even yourself) make you believe others.
7. Try to stop looking for love and validation externally.
We have been taught to constantly look for love and validation from the outside. Therefore, we seek love and respect from our friends, partners, and family members. And while it’s good to rely on your people for love and support, it’s borderline unhealthy and unfair to burden your expectations solely on them.
Expecting others to love you or make you feel whole is unhealthy. You are whole and complete within yourself.
Therefore, one of the most important tips on how to start loving yourself is to find love and validation for yourself inside rather than looking for it on the outside. Don’t worry if you don’t feel that way initially. You will get there slowly.
If you ever feel the need for love, try to find it inside you. Everything you need has been lying inside you for so long; you just need to look for it.
8. Let go of the perfectionist tendencies.
All of us are fighting our battles on the inside. We wake up each other ready to wage on another struggle and get through the end of the day. On the surface, you might believe everyone is living the best life possible, but that’s basically social media algorithms trying to play your mind.
Therefore, to learn how to practice self-love and acceptance, it’s essential that you let go of your perfectionist tendencies. The day you accept that perfection does not exist will be the time you will stop punishing yourself and truly rejoice in who you are.
9. Seek professional help.
Self-love is tough, and having a traumatic life can only make it harder to love yourself. It’s pretty difficult to look for positives, love yourself, or find any goodness in the world around you after you have been through adverse life circumstances.
Additionally, shedding the negative outlook, calming the inner self-critic, and switching to positive behaviors can be more challenging than usual for some people.
This is why looking for professional help is one of the best ways to learn how to love yourself when you don’t know how. A therapist or mental health counselor can help you identify your triggers and address negative behaviors.
Learning how to love yourself is the newest wellness trend, and we are not complaining. Every part of this trend is worth the hype, and it’s about time you start believing in it.
Self-love allows you to value and respect yourself. It translates and sets the foundation of healthy relationships in life. It helps you create healthy boundaries in relationships and prioritize yourself wholeheartedly without feeling guilty.
Need help enforcing healthy boundaries in life? Here are the best healthy boundaries worksheets to help you get started.To continue learning about self-love and mental health, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.