Self-love is one of those popular terms everyone uses, but what does it really mean?
What is self-love? Self-love is a core belief we have about ourselves that affects our wellbeing. Loving yourself is not about having a big ego orbeing a narcissist.
Self-love also is not about instant gratification. It is about nourishing yourself, and that can have various forms for different people.
What does it mean to love yourself in a relationship?
So how to practice self-love? To do it right, you first need to understand what it is—knowing what self-love is the first step in your life-changing journey of living your life with meaning.
Self-love is not lying to yourself every day that you are a special person and everything you do is right. Everyone else is just a jealous cynical prick.
It’s easy to go off the deep end and become delusional when you don’t know how to practice self-love correctly.
So what is healthy self-love, and what makes it different from selfishness?
Why do you want to invest in yourself? Is it to keep up with the Joneses or to create material for a social media post?
Some people indulge in expensive food/drinks, buy unnecessary luxury items, or even go to the gym just to take pictures of themselves and post them on social media.
A motive is why someone does something. Cause and effect are what happens after, including long-term and unintended consequences.
A night out in a bar is fine, but how does it affect your long-term health and your responsibilities the next day?
Bungee jumping may also be a life experience, but a freak accident could lead to a debilitating injury. Is it really worth the risk?
When you do something, you spend time, money, and opportunity. What are you giving up?
Spending time at work may help your career, but it is time away from your family. Remember, nobody on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I spent more time at the office.”
If you are thinking about healthy self-love, always consider the motive, consequences, and if it’s worth it.
Each person is different, so if you are convinced that your actions add value to yourself based on the criteria above, you are doing it right.
Why is it important to practice more self-love and self-care?
There’s a difference between a selfish person and a self-lover. A selfish person is someone who puts their own needs and happiness above everyone else.
People who practice self-love spend their “me time” to give more to someone else. Like someone who attends night school to get a better job and provide for their children better or take good care of their body, so they don’t get sick and burden their loved ones.
Self-love activities and selfish activities are sometimes the same. Such as spending time when you wake up and/or before sleeping talking to yourself.
You think/talk about positive things, motivate yourself and remove the negativity of the day.
If you have been thinking about how to practice self-love, this indeed is a suitable method. You can rid yourself of stress, frustrations, and disappointments so it doesn’t carry over the next day.
At the same time, it can also warp your reality and lead you towards living a delusional life. Self-reflection is a must!
Investing in yourself makes you a better person. In doing so, it increases the limit on how much you can give to the world.
Practicing self-love may seem like an empty and pathetic attempt at lying to yourself.
Do it wrong, and it would be. But do it right, and you can become the benefactor of the world if you choose to be. Check out these examples of self-love or the signs to understand if you actually love yourself:
You trust your gut feeling and believe in your inner voice.
Allow yourself to experiment with these diverse self-love practices and create your unique ways to practice self-love.
1. Practice gratitude
It might sound cheesy, butstudies show it works. Gratitude has a positive effect on our well-being. When we are grateful, we teach our brains to notice the good, not just the bad about the world and ourselves.
Gratitude as one of the self-love exercises is excellent for helping us adopt a new mindset. It helps us become more aware of the valuable assets we possess and the wonderful effects we have on the world around us.
2. Create a list of your best qualities
How to practice self-love? Next time you are feeling good about one of your accomplishments or generally about yourself, try this self-love activity:
Take some time to write a list of qualities you value about yourself. If you find that you quickly exhausted the ideas and the list is somewhat short, there is an exercise to help you along.
Start by dividing your life into sections of 5 years. Within them, write down the biggest hardships you overcame.
Think about the strengths you showed in those difficult times, such as bravery, resourcefulness, etc. This can help you remember all the great attributes about yourself, and before you know it, the list will be growing.
3. Accept your flaws
Steps to self-love are not about thinking you are the smartest, prettiest, or most talented person in the world. How to love yourself, then?
One of the crucial parts of self-love is accepting the good and the bad about yourself. Knowing your capacities and limits and still loving yourself.
Think about how boring the world would be if we were all perfect and the same. You are unique, and your flaws are part of that. Some flaws are going to be harder to accept, and some you will still want to change. That is alright too.
Make no mistake – accepting the way you are doesn’t mean you will stop improving yourself. It just means you will work on the improvements from a place of self-love.
“No one got better by feeling worse about themselves.”
Who are your best friends? What do you do when they complain about themselves and talk down to themselves? Most likely, you mention their good qualities and ask them to recall those as well.
Just because they have flaws, their good sides shouldn’t be discredited. You vouch for the value you see in them despite their imperfections.
“Next time you start criticizing yourself, try imagining you are your best friend.”
Think about what you would say to them if they were complaining. When they are in distress, you take care of them. You deserve the same.
Sometimes you will be able to do this for yourself; other times, you will go to your best friend and ask them to be the “angel on your shoulder.” Over time, you will be able to internalize this process and become your own angel.
Remember, no matter how hard you try, you will never fulfill everyone’s expectations, so focus on the most important person from the list – YOU. In the words of Dita Von Teese, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
6. Have a kinder inner dialogue
How do you speak to the people you love? Compared to that, how is your inner dialogue?
Would you be friends with a person that spoke to you the way that you speak to yourself?
Being kind to yourself in inner and outer dialogue has significant benefits, both psychological and physical.
Astudy has demonstrated the positive effects of kind inner dialogue on the body. Heart rate and sweat response had decreased when the inner dialogue was more pleasant.
“Bear in mind; you can’t hate your way into self-love.”
Remember that thing you did that made you feel ashamed, embarrassed, or guilty? It is time to let it go and incorporate it into your experience. Make it into a lesson rather than a failure. How do you do it?
Any time those thoughts of past mistakes come rushing in, ask yourself:
What did I learn by going through that experience?
If I renounced my mistakes, would I be the person I am today?
Usually, by following this train of thought, you will conclude that without your faulty past, you would not have learned as much as you did, and you would keep making more mistakes. Lastly, you would not be who you are today. And who you are is one of a kind!
“Loving yourself requires to accept that you are not perfect, yet perfect the way you are.”
8. Become more mindful
When we love ourselves, we choose to be compassionate towards ourselves rather than harsh in the face of hardships or mistakes.
To show compassion, you first need to be able to turn inwards and acknowledge that you are suffering. Therefore, mindfulness is a necessary first step of self-love and compassion.
People who love themselves know what they need, want, think, and feel. This understanding helps them be mindful of how to live their life according to their standards.
9. Spend time with people who increase your sense of self-love
Would you expect a plant to grow and blossom in the dark? Have you considered how your social environment is affecting the blossoming of your self-love?
Self-love has a higher chance of increasing if you are surrounded by people that are kind, supportive of you, rather than critical or harsh.
When your inner critic is strong, external criticism only brings more pain.
Whenever possible, choose your company. It is not always easy to get away from the people that criticize you.
However, you can make an effort to spend more time with the people that make you feel good about yourself.
10. Spend your alone time on things you enjoy
When we feel good, it is easier to love and like ourselves, especially when we are the reason why we feel so good.
What are the activities you enjoy?
What activities make you appreciate life?
With busy schedules, finding time to dedicate to enjoyable activities can be challenging. If this is true for you, consider taking 5 minutes a day to do something pleasurable.
It could be during a commute or lunch hour. Things you can do include:
Eating or drinking mindfully
Reading a book
Focusing on your breathing
Attempting a crossword puzzle
“Take any opportunity to savor your own company; showing to yourself how you feel is important.”
11. Focus on maintaining good health
As they say, “health is wealth.” If you are healthy, you can do more in a day, live longer, and even save yourself several dollars spent on medications and supplements if you are in bad shape.
Also, a study indicates that a person with high self-esteem is more likely to adopt a healthier lifestyle and healthy eating habits. This proves that basically, self-love and good health are interdependent.
Fatigue is a real thing; some people are mentally and physically exhausted after 8-12 hours, while others can keep doing productive work even for 14 hours straight!
Two hours a day is 14 hours a week; a person can achieve a lot in 14 hours. That time bought by a healthy body can help anyone live a more fulfilling life in the same calendar week.
Investing in your health to be more productive is a form of self-love. But do not confuse it with spending resources on your body to fulfill your vanity. It is not healthy self-love!
12. Take baby steps and keep moving towards your goal.
Taking action to achieve your personal goals is not selfish. Remember, the more skills, talent, and resources you have as a person, the more capable you are in giving and loving others.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help on your way up, but don’t expect it. Once you get there, share your victory as you see fit.
Acts of kindness and charity end there. You do it because you want to; it’s not obligatory, nor is it social responsibility.
But if you decide to do it, you do it because you chose to help, and not because you want to gain any fame from it.
13. Get rid of clutter
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, which includes physical trash around you and toxic relationships.
There are things and people around you that drain your time and energy. There are also a lot of things in your life that serve as nothing but a distraction.
If you are looking for ways to practice self-love. List all the things that you have to do in a week, a month, a year.
You will find that you do and think about many activities that add nothing to your quality of life. Some things, and sometimes even people, drain the life of you, and removing them from taking up your time will improve your well-being.
Are you still contemplating how to practice self-love, plan, organize, and simplify your life! It works.
14. Don’t seek everyone’s validation
Loving yourself is at the core of how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you. It becomes a standard for what you are willing to give and settle for in relationships.
What would it take to give up the need for the approval of others to such an extent?
Start by listing others whose approval you seek.
Cut the list down to 10 people.
What would your life be like if you were to only consider the opinion of these 5 people?
Finally, if you haven’t already, add yourself to that list. Think of your standards and then compare them to the expectations of others.
15. Don’t compare yourself to others
If you hear yourself making comparisons to others, stop it; compare to your old self. Are you a better version of yourself today?
If you do think of others, focus on using them as models to where you want to be.
16. Practice self-compassion
A person who has self-compassion responds with kindness rather than self-judgment, understanding that imperfection is a shared human trait.
In astudy published to understand how self-compassion relates to mindfulness, it was suggested that self-compassion is very significant in the construct of mindfulness.
Here’s a 10-minute video of guided meditation for self-love and compassion:
17. Help others and seek help
If you are the type who prefers to help people around you rather than random strangers, there’s also nothing wrong with that. There is nothing selfish about it, and it’s one of the ways of self-love.
Remember that you never got to where you are, alone. Others have sacrificed their time and energy to give you the freedom you needed to succeed.
18. Understand your spirituality
Go inwards. Take time to meditate and try to reflect on yourself and your life. Understand your spiritual side and work on it to be mindful of your sense of belief. When you do it, ask yourself questions, about your meaning, and purpose of life.
19. Work on something you are good at
Everyone has a talent and must be having one as well. One essential way of how to practice self-love and care is to try to find that out and spend time with it. You will eventually love to grow and enjoy your newly found talents.
20. Learn to let go
Letting go is an important step in moving towards a better and bigger life. So, whether it’s a person or a thing, let go if it is no longer serving you a purpose. You can do that by creating powerful mantras to eliminate negative thoughts as and when they come.
Spending a lot of time on social media means filling your brain with too much information and content, a lot of which will only kill your spirits. So, reduce your screen time and spend time with yourself, with people in real life.
Know that no one is talking about their failures. So, don’t lose hope.
Whenever you feel any negative thoughts creeping in, make a conscious effort to postpone the thought. Tell yourself that you will think about them later. By doing so, you assure yourself that you are not discarding the thought. However, what you would do is subconsciously not let the thought hamper you.
One way of how to have self-love is to be consistent in your efforts, whether it’s regarding your work or your relationships. Show your consistency and perseverance. By doing so, you will develop faith in yourself too.
24. Eliminate toxicity
You must pay close attention to toxic people in your life and toxic patterns because they will hurt you and drain you. Once you know how to sift from things trying to pull you down or things that add negativity to your life, you will be able to embrace yourself more.
It is often assumed that journaling is only for people who write well or are great communicators. However, journaling is a basic habit that everyone should develop. It helps in having clarity in thoughts and understanding oneself better.
26. Practice affirmations
Affirmations are a great way to penetrate your subconscious mind and transform your internal state. These are positive statements that could change your thoughts, behavior, and beliefs. They help in concentrating on the goals and motivating you to act.
Also, they have the power to make you feel positive about yourself and boost your self-confidence.
27. Celebrate little wins
Keep acknowledging little wins that you make. Once you do it, you will be able to develop more confidence and have better self-worth. Not just this, when you celebrate small victories, these are great reminders that you are on the right path.
28. Learn to say No
It is important to say No and maintain boundaries in the relationship. When you learn to say No at the right place, you eliminate toxicity without feeling the need to apologize. You can do so by being assertive yet courteous.
Have fun in the process of embracing yourself. You don’t have to take everything seriously. All you need to do is have a positive attitude and a happy mindset without feeling that the self-love journey is a tiring process.
Meditation has several mental health benefits. It helps you focus better, develop concentration and look within in the process to find self-love. Not just this, it will also help you have emotional balance and, thereby, can be a great process in understanding yourself better.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.