We’ve all heard the infamous quote from RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”
How true is that! We need to learn to love ourselves first and foremost, but how exactly do we do that without sounding selfish and narcissistic?
Let us be your guide on this self-love journey by helping you understand what exactly self-love is, providing some ways you can practice self-love, and breaking down all the benefits self-love can have on your overall health.
So what exactly is this whole self-love thing?
The textbook definition of self-love is defined as a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. Self-love also means having a high regard for your well-being and happiness. Self-love is putting yourself first and taking care of your own needs before pleasing others. Self-love means not settling for anything less than you deserve.
Self-love can have different meanings for each and every single one of us, as there are a million ways to put ourselves first. Figuring out what self-love looks like for you can be a lifelong journey, but your mental health will thank you.
Wait, This Sounds Kinda Like Self-Care…
Yes, but not exactly; the two are linked but are not interchangeable.
Practicing self-care can help us get to a point where we love ourselves. If we begin to prioritize self-care, it can help us feel a little more human and teach us that we deserve to be cared for. It can help us gain a sense of self-respect and start to love who we are.
On the flip side, when we love ourselves, our self-care often improves. Loving ourselves can help reduce our self-neglect levels and let us discover our self-worth.
How and Why to Practice Self Love
Self-love motivates you to make better choices for your health, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. When you love yourself even the tiniest bit more, you start to choose things that nurture your well-being and serve you well. These things may be in the form of choosing healthier food options, partaking in exercise to get an endorphin rush, or working to make healthier and happier relationships.
A few ways you can practice self-love include:
- Becoming mindful. Digging deep and understanding what you think, feel, and want. Being aware of all your thoughts.
- Taking actions based on need rather than want. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
- Practice self-care. When you love yourself more, you end up taking better care of yourself. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy, and healthy social interactions.
- Creating healthy habits. Start truly caring for yourself by mirroring what goes into your body, how you move your body, and what you spend time doing. Prioritize doing things you care about and best serve you, not because you “have to.”
- Don’t compare yourself to others. We’re socialized to be competitive, so comparing ourselves to others comes naturally. However, there’s just no point in comparing yourself to anyone else on the planet because there’s only one of you. Instead, focus on yourself and your journey. The energy shift alone will help you feel free and continue to push you towards your happiness.
- Stop letting others’ opinions affect you. Similar to above, don’t worry about what society thinks or expects of you. You can’t make everyone happy, so it’s not the best use of your time to even attempt. Just like not everyone likes pizza or ice cream, not everyone is going to like you, and that’s totally okay. Focusing too much on gaining approval from others will only slow you down on your journey to being the best version of yourself.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes. When we were little, we’d get told, “nobody’s perfect; everyone makes mistakes.” However, as the years pass, the pressure to never fail and chase perfection re-surface. Well, we say make all the mistakes to learn and grow from them. Embrace your past and take the learnings while letting everything else go. You’re constantly changing and growing from who you once were into who you are today and who you will be in the future. So, ignore that voice in your head that says you need to be perfect. Make mistakes — lots of them! The lessons you’ll learn along the way will be priceless.
Just like any relationship, being in a relationship with yourself to achieve self-love takes time, patience, and commitment.
So approach it as a serious long-term relationship that you will continue to pour energy into and work on throughout your lifetime.