In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to love yourself.
What to do? What not to do? (And most important of all) how to believe in yourself when you feel like the world is telling you different.
1) What you need to understand first
If there is only one lesson you learn this entire year, it’s this: You are absolutely the most important person in your entire universe.
Your entire life is lived through your eyes. Your interactions with the world and those around you, your thoughts and how you interpret events, relationships, actions, and words.
You might just be another person when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to your understanding of reality, you are the only thing that matters.
And because of that, your reality depends on how much you love and take care of you.
Your relationship with your self is the most defining factor in shaping the kind of life you live.
The less you love yourself, listen to yourself, and understand yourself, the more confused, angry, and frustrating your reality will be.
But when you begin and continue to love yourself more, the more everything you see, everything you do, and everyone you interact with, starts to become a little bit better in every way possible.
But self-love isn’t easy. As they say: you are your own biggest critic.
We’re programmed to have bouts of self-loathing, and for many of us, these phases of self-hatred can turn into our entire lives.
It’s when we spend more time hating ourselves than we do loving ourselves that we adopt a more negative disposition of the world.
So begin to love yourself first. It might not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s definitely the most important.
2) Your Daily You
Think of the people in your life that you love and respect. How do you treat them?
You are kind to them, patient with their thoughts and ideas, and you forgive them when they make a mistake.
You give them space, time, and opportunity; you make sure they have the room to grow because you love them enough to believe in the potential of their growth.
Now think of how you treat yourself.
Do you give yourself the love and respect that you might give your closest friends or significant other?
Do you take care of your body, your mind, and your needs?
Here are all the ways that you could be showing your body and mind self-love in your everyday life:
- Sleeping properly
- Eating healthy
- Giving yourself time and space to understand your spirituality
- Exercising regularly
- Thanking yourself and those around you
- Playing when you need it
- Avoiding vices and toxic influences
- Reflecting and meditating
How many of these daily activities do you allow yourself? And if not, then how can you say you truly love yourself?
Loving yourself is more than just a state of mind—it’s also a series of actions and habits that you embed into your everyday life.
You have to show yourself that you love you, from the beginning of your day to the end.
3) Accepting the Pain
No one is perfect. Some of us confuse self-love with endless positivity and endless optimism.
There are those who go about their day singing the praises of God no matter how bad they might be feeling or how horrible their predicament might be.
And we think this is the right thing to do; after all, shouldn’t positive vibes simply attract more positive vibes?
But the truth is that your endless optimism is a giant lie. You’re lying to a part of yourself, ignoring the needs of half of who you are.
Because we all have a dark side; we all hold anguish, hatred, and pain. Ignoring these realities eats us up, and forces us to cave-in spiritually and mentally.
Allow yourself to be honest with who you are. Forgive yourself for your past deeds, those things you are ashamed of.
Accept that you are sometimes a carrier of negative emotions, like disgust, rage, and jealousy. And learn to embrace the silence when you need it.
4) Find and Open Your Heart
While step 3 is about acknowledging and accepting the pain, step 4 is about reconciling with a cold and unopened heart.
Ask yourself this one question: do you fully love yourself?
Accepting your flaws and your faults is one thing, but loving a person who can have your thoughts, your emotions, your vices, and your mistakes? That’s a completely higher level of self-love.
Discover your life story. Trace your path from childhood to the person you are now.
Understand yourself in the most intimate way possible, and find the reason for every negative emotion, every shameful act, every word and deed that you now regret.
Take the skeletons out of your closet and try to remember why they are there in the first place.
Perhaps the most important thing you will discover is that most parts of our personality have a cause, and those that don’t can be learned away.
Maybe you have false understandings of reality, or trauma, or feelings of victimhood.
Maybe you see the world differently than it actually is, and because of that, you did things you now know to be wrong.
Find the causes and trace your past. Learn to love yourself in a way that only you can. Stop being ashamed of your past and start understanding it.
5) Share Yourself
On this path of self-discovery, you will discover truths about you that will terrify and shock you.
But the goal is to work your way through them and begin to love yourself more through understanding and acceptance.
And only after you have worked out your own personal bumps can you begin to see the diamonds in the rough: your gifts.
These are the qualities about you that survive the journey. The empathy, the spirituality, the humor, the love: everything you have cleaned off after wiping away all the rest. And when you love yourself and the things about you, only then can you properly share yourself to the world.
Give your true self to the world and those around you. Now that you love yourself, it’s time to begin helping others find the highest form of self-love of their own.
For more inspirational wisdom on self-improvement and mindfulness, like Hack Spirit on Facebook:
6) Your thoughts are just thoughts – nothing more
The first thing you need to realize is that most of us are inherently negative.
We have about thousands of thoughts every day, and shockingly, 70 percent of them may be negative.
Because fears and worries are necessary for us to protect ourselves.
But this survival mechanism can work against us, which is why you’re experiencing self-doubt and self-criticism right now.
So, what can you do?
Well, what you need to realize is that while your thoughts can’t necessarily be changed, you can you stop believing them.
Thoughts are just thoughts – nothing more. Here’s an inspiring quote from Allan Lokos:
“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.”
7) What do you really want to do with your life?
Do you have a purpose?
Understanding what you want and where you want to go is crucial to being happy and finding meaning in life.
However, you probably already know that.
So if you don’t know what to with your life, how in the hell can you figure it out?
There is a way.
According to Ideapod, these thought-provoking, weird questions may help you unlock the purpose that has been hidden from you until now.
Check them out:
- What were you passionate about as a child?
- If you didn’t have a job, how would you choose to fill your hours?
- What makes you forget about the world around you?
- What issues do you hold close to your heart?
- Who do you spend time with and what do you talk about?
- What is on your bucket list?
- If you had a dream, could you make it happen?
Remember, if you want to learn how to love yourself, then you need to have a purpose that unlocks that love.
8) What are you appreciative for?
Being grateful is a powerful attitude that can shape your mindset for the better.
According to Psychology Today, mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude.
In fact, a white paper by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkely says that people who consciously count what they’re grateful may have better physical and mental health:
But I’m sure wondering:
How do you develop gratitude in the first place?
According to Unstuck, one of the easiest ways to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal.
Every morning you could write down a few things that you’re grateful for in your life. Get in the routine and you’ll be more appreciative by the day.
Here’s a great quote from Roy T. Bennett:
“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.”
9) It’s time to get out of your comfort zone, step-by-step…
I’m sure you’ve heard that progress can’t be made in your comfort zone.
And as annoying as it is, it’s true.
If you’re struggling to love yourself, then I’m also going to guess that you’re staying in your comfort zone as well.
But you don’t have to do something immensely scary to get out of your comfort zone. You can take little steps to expand it and make progress.
So, how can you break through that comfort zone? First, write down activities that make you feel slightly nervous.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be small, just as long as it’s something relatively new and it makes you nervous.
Then go about knocking those tasks off. Once you get through them, you’ll start to believe in yourself and everything that you can achieve.
10) As you make progress, people will try to pull you down
You know what happens when you start to improve?
Your friends, colleagues and maybe even family members may start to put you down.
Because it’s the natural order of things. They’ve put you in a box and it messes with their mind when you start to change.
So you’re going to have summoned up some courage and ignore criticism from others.
If you’re becoming more confident and happy, then that’s all that should really matter…
11) Get out there and exercise
You might not like to hear this one, but it could be one of the most powerful things you can do.
Not only will you start to be healthier, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there’s usually an instant mood-enhancing effect about five minutes after you start a workout.
And when done consistently, exercise could help reduce long-term feelings of depression and anxiety, and in turn, can help you maintain a healthy sense of self-confidence.
“There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,” says James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University.
So whether it’s aerobic exercise or weight lifting, get out there and get it done! You’ll start to feel better about yourself in no time.
12) Who are you surrounding yourself with?
This is an important cog that often goes unnoticed.
We’re all influenced by who we spend most of our time with. Consider this quote from Tim Ferriss:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
True, isn’t it?
So if you think that some of your friends are toxic and have a habit of putting you down, you might want to find some new ones. You know, people you actually like and admire.
If your friends are positive and uplifting, you’ll begin to feel better about yourself as well.
13) Accept your emotions without judging them
Whenever we experience an uncomfortable feeling, such as sadness, fear or anger, our first instinct is to ignore it, reject it or push it away. And this fair enough, we don’t really want to walk around feeling emotional pain all the time.
However, when we reject our emotions, we may actually make things worse off. Emotions give us useful information about our lives.
A much better tactic that may help your emotional health is to practice acceptance. This means allowing your emotions to just be without negatively judging them or trying to change them.
It’s understanding that you don’t need to “control” your emotions. They cannot do any damage to you.
In fact, the things you do to get rid of negative emotions, like alcohol or eating cake, can do more damage to you.
Learning to accept your emotions may lead to stable emotional resilience.
However, it is important to not confuse acceptance with self-imposed suffering. When you are treated unfairly by a superior, that doesn’t mean you should accept it.
Acceptance is about balance. Western society encourages us to be positive all the time, but that’s not realistic. Instead, we must live our lives with both the negative and the positive, which helps us live a life of contentment.
In the end, if you’re able to accept yourself and all of your emotions, you’ll be more easily able to love yourself.
14) Get rid of these 5 toxic beliefs
Your beliefs shape your perspective on life. But if your beliefs aren’t accurate, they could be negatively affecting you.
Here are some common toxic beliefs that may sabotage our life:
1. The present is indicative of the future
When life isn’t going well, it’s common to believe that your life will always be like this. And when things are going great, we think it won’t last long.
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s bad judgment. The truth is, change is the only constant in the universe. Nothing remains fixed. So when things are going bad, realize that eventually, it has to change.
2. Being vulnerable is dangerous
No one enjoys feeling uncomfortable. But the truth is, progress can only occur when you step out of your comfort zone.
And the only way you’ll be able to do that is by embracing imperfection and accepting that you’re going to feel uncomfortable.
Embrace who you are and what you’re feeling. You might find that it leads to insights that you never thought were possible.
3. Being alone is a problem
If you can’t be comfortable spending time with yourself, how can you love yourself?
This is a dangerous belief because in life, the only person we can rely on is ourselves. As Buddhism says, happiness can only come from within yourself, so stop seeking external factors to make you happy.
4. Fitting in is a good thing
We’re taught to believe that we need to fit in if we want to be happy. But the problem with this is that you don’t embrace the idea that you’re unique.
Instead, you try to fit inside a limiting box society has created for you to be ‘normal’.
Embrace who you are. The happiest people are authentic people.
5. What everyone does to you is personal
Some of us tend to think that anything happening to us is a direct assault on us. But when we start seeing the world this way, it can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The truth is, the world isn’t out to get you and neither are other people. What people think about you says more about them than it does about you.
We all have a lens with which we see the world, so choose yours to be optimistic and hopeful. Your mind will thank you for it.
15) Do what you’ll say you’ll do
If you want to be proud of yourself and who you are, take action when you say you’ll take action.
How do you feel when someone says they’ll do something and then they don’t? They lose credibility.
So build your own credibility with yourself. Live with integrity.
Every time you take action and achieve something, you build confidence in yourself.
After all, life is about taking action, engaging in new experiences and achieving goals. And these goals don’t have to be big. The smaller ones are perhaps more important. If you say you’re going to clean the house, do it! It’ll make you happy.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, by setting small goals and achieving them, your bran may receive a spike in dopamine – a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. This is why people benefit from to-do lists.