This self-love thing is being googled and talked about to no end, especially since January is Self-love Month. But for most people self-love isn’t innate. Most of us are still not exactly sure what self-love is and how to do it.
Self-love is about self-awareness and self-compassion. It’s about knowing ourselves fully, our wants and needs, our pains and pleasures and honoring them. It encourages us to have healthy relationships with ourselves and others. It prevents abusive relationships, including our relationship with ourselves.
Contrary to what some may believe, self-care is not the same as wanton, self-indulgence. Real self-love isn’t about being narcissistic. It’s not all about me, what’s in it for me and forget the others.
Self-love, simply put, is knowing and standing in our own power, and acting with loving kindness in support of ourselves.
Since self-love, for most of us, isn’t the norm, we need to practice it. We cultivate love for oneself through daily practice of soul-nourishing activities. These activities are meant to create and bolster genuine love and support for yourself.
With this in mind, here are some self-loving practices to include in your daily life:
1. Start the day with self-love.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, before you reach for your phone or tablet to check emails, Instagram and what not, pay attention to yourself first.
Say to yourself a few times something like this: I allow myself to be loved and to give love. And say it like you mean it. At first it may seem uncomfortable, but over time say loving words and feeling love to yourself will be natural.
2. Cease criticising and judging yourself.
Nobody is perfect. Judging and criticizing yourself will only lead to low self-esteem and negative vibrations. When you accept yourself, including your imperfections, you then allow yourself grow and mature.
When you realize that everyone feels inadequate and vulnerable, at one time or another, it takes the pressure off you because now you no longer feel like your situation is an isolated one. Humanity is imperfect and that’s the way it is.
3. Quit feeling bad by comparing yourself to others.
Do you notice that sometimes when you look at someone’s social media feed you feel less than worthy? At times, you feel smug and better than the other person. We’ve played this game before, the comparison game.
We live in a competitive world that it can’t be helped but compare ourselves to others. The result is often feelings of condescension, resentment, depression and unworthiness. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
If we must compare ourselves to others, use comparison to motivate you to improve certain areas of your life. Find out what they are doing right, and decide if doing so will further the quality of your life.
4. Forgive yourself.
Everyone makes mistakes but why is it that often much harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive others? Mistakes are learning opportunities, no matter how bad it came about. Get the learning, forgive yourself and get up again.
5. Learn to release and let go.
How many things are we holding on to? Sad events, mean people, embarrassing events, broiling anger and bottomless despair. No wonder we so tired every day; we are carrying so much baggage over the years.
Holding on to this baggage is only holding us back from our potential. Instead of moving forward, we keep looking back and thus we are held in place. Practice letting go instead and move on.
6. Practice gratitude, focus on what’s good.
Instead of mentally listing all things wrong and can go wrong, focus on what wonderful things you can contribute to the world and what things are currently going right. The more you notice the positive, the more of them you discover.
Create a gratitude list. Once you see that there’s some many things that are actually working for you and so many things to be grateful for, it will make it so much easier to love your life and ultimately, love yourself. Try it, a gratitude list will at worse put a smile on your face.
7. Make a self-care ritual.
Unplug the Wi-Fi, put your phone on DnD and play your favorite music for 20 minutes or more. You do not want to be disturbed while you’re taking time for yourself. Do your hair treatment, body scrubs and soak in heavenly smelling bath.
If you’ve been so stressed lately, it’s time to stop taking your body and your life for granted. Create a self-care tradition for yourself. Some people allocate a particular day and time for their self-care weekly ritual. It’s a wonderful way to reboot your mind, body and soul.
8. Take care of your body.
Act like the loving steward of your body that you are. Treating your body lovingly, by feeding it nutritious food, giving it enough exercise and rest, will not only boost your mood and vitality but will cultivate self-love as well.
9. Practice positive self-talk.
As what was said on last week’s article, if you have to talk to yourself might as well be saying something construction and positive. Once you notice that you’re talking to yourself negatively, gently herd your words towards kindness and encouragement.
10. Practice mirror work.
Mirror work is self-talk while looking at yourself in the mirror. Affirmations for mirror work may be as simple as saying thank you. When something bad happens, you might say that’s okay, you’ll be fine. I love you. At times, no words are even necessary, just an honest look or a gentle smile.
It may sound silly to be talking to your reflection in the mirror. And heaven forbid someone walk in on you while you’re giving yourself a pep talk. But mirror work is one of the most effective ways towards self-love.
As you become more comfortable doing mirror work, you will also become aware of the words and the expressions you give yourself. Until one day, you realize you’ve become your own best friend.
11. Find an activity that you’re good at.
For the ultimately confidence booster, do something that you are good at, whether it be a hobby, a sport or personal meditative practice. It will bring out the best in you and encourage you to find out more things that you can be good at.
12. Laugh and play.
Sing silly songs, tell corny jokes – do whatever makes you laugh. It encourages you to lighten up and not take life so seriously all of the time. Freely express your joy for life like you did when you were a child – dance, frolic and play.
13. End the day with self-compassion.
Before you sleep, give yourself a virtual pat on the back for the things you’ve accomplished. Mentally check-off every thing you are grateful that happened that day.
And then forgive yourself for the things that are not done. Saying to yourself, everything will work out for the best and there’s a new day tomorrow. Go to bed with a happy heart full of gratitude and love.
Pick a few or do all of these simple, some times not so easy, self-love practices and turn them into habits. The more you practice them, the more powerful the message you send to yourself: you are loved and you are worthy.
The goal of these self-love exercises is to learn to be kind and loving to yourself, until you radiate that loving kindness from within. At this point, you will feel complete and joyful even when, at times in life, there’s no one next to you.