How to Practice Self Love…10 Easy Steps
04 July 2016
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~Unknown
The idea of loving yourself often seems so cliché. We throw around the phrase, but do we really understand what it means? Do we actually know how to practice self-love? Or what the process of self-love even looks like? Some people even think self-love is selfish – but why is it selfish to care for yourself? There is a big difference between self-love and narcissism.
To start, think of people as plants. In order for a plant to survive, grow and blossom, you need to water it. So in order for us to feel as centered, loving, and grounded as we’d like, we need to be watered daily.
When we are well “watered”, we have the energy and patience to give love to the world around us; to convert our love into “oxygen” so as to energise those around us, but when we are not watered regularly, we begin to wilt, we feel dry, listless and dull – we are no longer a life giving energy, rather we feel empty and drained. In turn our lack of energy and life, drains the life out of those around us which ultimately lessens their own life source too.
Many people go for the quick fix; we find some temporary external source to fill ourselves with “love”, to mask what’s truly going on deep inside. We go to the fridge, get a drink, call up an ex, smoke a cigarette—anything that gives us a temporary high and a feeling of relief from the discomfort we feel (which ultimately ends up draining us even more, starting the cycle all over again).
Sometimes we go for more “positive fillers” that may seem to be what we need: giving to others, being social, getting love from someone else. These may not be somewhat helpful, but they still make us dependent on an external source for love and acceptance.
So how do remain “well-watered?
The answer is simple: with love.
Seems obvious, right? So why is it so hard to do? Unfortunately, self-love is not a concept we are ever taught to process, and as humans, it doesn’t happen naturally, so it’s not surprising that we don’t necessarily know how to do it.
The first thing we need to do is decide whether we actually believe we are lovable.
Most people feel that only “certain parts” of themselves are lovable. For example, “my kind, happy self is lovable, but my sad, lonely self needs to stay hidden away, because no one would love that part of me.” This is where the process of self-hate actually starts draining your love and energy. Self – love means loving your whole self – the good and the bad. We are not perfect, and accepting that is certainly a first step.
Any time we are comparing, judging, or simply being negative, we are depleting our love, which makes us feel bad, and therefore places us in a cycle of discontentment, which pushes us further and further away from love. So how do we get out of this pattern?
First you need to acknowledge you are in it, and have to learn to take control
What do I mean by take control? Try this - Turn off your thoughts for a solid minute and don’t think of anything – not so easy right? Why? Because your mind has a “mind” of its own. If not corrected and controlled, our minds simply run on the “programs” that were “installed” in them during our childhood – something like a cognitive autopilot.
Each of us have different types of mind chatter (and feelings), because we all have different life experiences that create them. Taking the time to learn about the chatter of your mind is what psychology is all about, and something I highly recommend we all do for ourselves.
But at some point you need to learn how to go filter through the nonsense chatter and take the reins but redirecting your thoughts and rearranging your mental environment. Through the practice of self-monitoring and observation we begin to see and understand the chatter of our mind; and with some work, we can learn how to better deal with it, sift through it, re-direct it and ultimately fill it with the good stuff – the stuff that fuels rather than stifles the process of self-love.
So here are a few practices of self-love that I find helpful when trying to fill yourself up with the love you really need:
- Validate your feelings, “It’s okay to feel bad sometimes.” We are taught that we must be tough not matter what – ignore that – let yourself feel what you need to feel – in so doing, the feelings are able to pass more quickly, and you will be less likely to hold on to them.
- Don’t judge or put negativity on your thoughts and feelings – acknowledge them, and then let them pass
- Allow yourself some pampering – you deserve to feel good!
- Listen to and respect your inner experience – allow yourself to be you!
- Remember that “ this too shall pass” – everything we experience eventually passes, so when you are feeling down, know that this is simply a feeling, and feelings come and go – so let those feelings visit but when its time for them to go, let them go – don’t hold on to them
- Remind yourself of all that you have done, all that you are and all that you do! Give yourself some credit – of course we can always do better (that’s what we’ve been taught to believe right?!) – but that doesn’t mean that what you have done doesn’t deserve acknowledgement
- Be grateful for the little (and big) things in your life – appreciation is the foundation of happiness. Focus on what you do have, and make the most of that!
- Spring clean your life – clean out those things that are negative (thoughts / things / people) and fill your life up with positivity. Leave a little space for thoughts/ people / things / feelings to come and go. The less you hold on to the easier life becomes!
- Commit to your physical health—healthy eating, exercise, sufficient rest, self-enrichment and personal growth are all fundamental elements to enhancing self-love. Your body and mind deserve to be cared for, appreciated and love – they are part of you and should be prioritised too!
- Invest in your psychological/emotional/spiritual health – these are also facets of the self. No matter what your religious, secular beliefs, allow yourself to discover, explore, learn and ultimately grow
Self-love takes time and effort, it is after all something we have to practice and learn – it requires intention and inner work. Remember you cannot operate at 100% if you are running on empty – in order to be productive in life and to give love, care and support to others – you have to enrich yourself. Your interaction with the world around you mirrors your internal state of being – so don’t neglect it!
Yours in Health Always,