Self-love can seem unattainable. It might be because, in part, self-love sounds abstract and ambiguous. To be clear, self-love is both an attitude and an act. It’s how you view yourself, and how you live your life.
Self love, like self care, is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, and as a result, is misunderstood. To be honest, self love and self care really go hand in hand. Self care is basically an essential part of self love, and you can’t really have one without the other. What’s important to understand is that self love is more than just feeling good about yourself, being confident, or taking care of yourself. Self love is a deep appreciation and connectedness with yourself. It is truly accepting yourself as you are, and having compassion for yourself. So how can you begin to cultivate more feelings of self love into your life?
Today I have 10 tips that involve both your thoughts and your actions that you can use to cultivate self love in your life starting now.
1. Get to Know Yourself
Before you can honor your needs, dreams and wishes, you need to know what they actually look like. Spend some alone time, take out your journal and ask yourself the following questions. View this exercise like a coffee date with an acquaintance you’d like to get to know better or a heart-to-heart with a close friend. What are your favorite foods? What kinds of meals make you feel nourished and energized? What physical activities make you feel alive? What activities spark your creativity? What are your passions? What are the happiest parts of your life? What parts are the most stressful? What would you do if money and time weren’t an issue? How do you love to spend your days?
2. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
The “comparison trap” is the ultimate killer of self love (and self esteem), and unfortunately, it’s very easy to fall into these days with how prevalent social media is. We’re constantly looking at what other people portray about their lives on social media, but the reality is they’re only showing the best parts. Generally speaking, people only share the highlights of their lives, not their struggles. I understand there are exceptions, however, the people we tend to compare ourselves to are those who appear to have everything together; those who present to be living the perfect life. It’s ok to look up to or admire others, however, it becomes toxic when we start comparing ourselves to these people and talking down about ourselves because of it. Focus on being more present in your own life, as opposed to being so focused on everyone else. Create your own beauty in your own life, and know that YOU are beautiful too!
3. Surround Yourself with Supportive People
The people you surround yourself with play an important role in your happiness and health. They can contribute to the joy in your life, or they can steal it. They can intensify your stress, or they can help you shrink it. Self-love includes surrounding yourself with people you trust who have your heart in mind. Who are the people in your life that support you? Who are the people that don’t? Who’s really there for you? Who’s always too busy?
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4. HAVE FUN
When was the last time you had genuine fun? The last time you allowed yourself to go do something just for fun. As young kids, “having fun” is all we care about it, and we’re able to do that doing just about anything. Kids can make anything fun, and they’re so carefree that “fun” comes very easily to them. Then we grow up, and “adulting” takes over, pushing “fun” to the bottom of our priority list. Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to have fun again. Whether that means playing video games for a few hours, playing your favorite sport, going to the movies with a friend, swimming, etc. Just do it! How is this related to self love? Because you love yourself enough to let yourself have fun, and enjoy your life to the fullest.
5. Practice Self-Compassion
For many people criticizing themselves comes naturally. Being kind? Not so much. We’re much better at supporting someone else than ourselves — especially if we’ve made a mistake, missed a deadline or said the wrong thing. But self-criticism only makes things worse. Studies have found a connection between self-criticism and low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. On the other hand, self-compassion is associated with greater well-being, including more effective coping and less depression and anxiety. According to researcher and professor Kristin Neff, who studies self-compassion at the University of Texas at Austin, self-compassion consists of three parts: self-kindness, which includes being nice to yourself rather than condemning yourself or letting your inner critic run wild; common humanity, the realization that you’re not alone in your struggles, because everyone struggles; and mindfulness, which involves noticing the present moment without judgment or criticism. So the next time you want to flog yourself, instead, extend some self-compassion. Ask yourself how you’d treat a friend who’s just experienced the same thing. What would you say? What would you not say? How would you support them?
6. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Setting boundaries is key to cultivating positivity and self love in your life. Setting boundaries involves being able to say “no” to relationships, activities, and work that drain you, create stress, and negatively impact your life and happiness. The ability to set these boundaries shows self love and compassion because you are cutting out the things that harm you. Sometimes you may just need to take a break from certain people or commitments, and taking that break gives you time to evaluate whether or not you want to invite these people/things back into your life later on.
7. FORGIVE YOURSELF
Shift your mindset from “punishing yourself” to “learning and growing from your past mistakes.” View your mistakes as lessons and opportunities for growth and change. Consider doing an activity such as a “write & burn.” Write down all of your thoughts and/or past actions that are bothering your or that you regret. You can either write them on one sheet of paper, or on several small pieces of paper. Then, burn all of the paper (safely of course!). This activity symbolizes letting go of the past, and forgiving yourself. It’s meant to be a form a release of the emotions that are tying you down or causing you to practice negative self talk. Practice self love and compassion by letting go of these toxic thoughts, and forgiving yourself <3
To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives ~ Denis Waitley
8. TREAT YOURSELF, HOW YOU’D LIKE TO BE TREATED BY OTHERS
Yes, this is a flip on the popular saying “treat others how you’d like to be treated.” If you want other people to treat you with compassion, and respect, then don’t you deserve the same from yourself? It sounds really awkward, but stand in the mirror and compliment yourself and recite positive affirmations in the morning. Do this over and over in order to shift your mindset to one of self love, and positivity. I know it’s cliche, but the more you say these things to yourself, the more you will start to believe them. The more you believe them, the more positive you’ll feel, and the more you’ll love yourself and believe in your abilities.
9. COMMIT TO LOVE YOURSELF NOW, NOT LATER
You don’t need to wait until you make whatever personal growth changes you’re looking to make, before you start loving yourself. Commit to love yourself now, as you are. Making the conscious decision to love yourself now will actually make it easier for you to work towards your personal development goals and life aspirations. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world ~ Lucille Ball
10. UMMM, SELF CARE, DUH!
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include self care, because like I said at the beginning, self care and self love are intertwined. Think about it this way. When you love someone, whether it be your child, spouse, family member, or friend, you want to take care of them right? So shouldn’t you take care of yourself because you love yourself too? Self care is basically a way to say “I love you” and “thank you for being so awesome,” to yourself because you’re taking the time to nourish every part of your being. Self care is the act of showing yourself love, which is the key to living your most fulfilling and positive life.
Self love is definitely something that grows over time. However, you can make the decision to plant the “self love seed” now, and watch it flourish as you actively implement these 9 tips to cultivate self love in your life. So let us know in the comments where you are on your journey to self love!
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