How to Teach Yourself Self Love
“In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies, we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” – Mumford & Sons. This line is one of the most potent lyrics the band has ever written, inspiring this article on self love.
I love this lyric from Mumford and Sons because it profoundly expresses the importance of love. It illustrates the necessity of intentionality in our lives and putting our focus, time, and energy into those things and people we love.
As the members of Mumford and Sons point out, we spend our entire lives in these bodies. Therefore, we can never separate ourselves from things we do or experience. When we live intentionally, we emphasize those things that matter most to us. For instance, it is giving ourselves entirely to someone else, whether our kids, friends or spouse/partner. We most intimately share our minds, hearts, and lives through this love of others.
Abraham Maslow said, “We must understand love, we must be able to teach it, to create it, to predict it, or else the world is lost to hostility and suspicion.”
We often think about giving our love to others, but when was the last time you thought about loving yourself?
I mean, seriously, ask yourself if you even know what self-love really is. Sure, you can say yes, giving yourself importance and prioritizing your peace and health over other commitments. But is that it? Is that all self-love is? And doesn’t it sound a lot like being selfish to put ourselves before others? So many questions, right?
What is self-love?
When we think of self-love, we often think of it as a notion of loving yourself and prioritizing yourself over others. But there is much more to self-love than that. As Clair Nuer, a holocaust survivor and pioneer in Personal Mastery, put it, “The only way to create love, safety, and acceptance is by giving them.”
Loving ourselves consists of performing such actions and thinking to support our growth physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It is intentionally incorporating habits into your life to take care of your own needs and nurture them to encourage your growth in all aspects of life. At the same time, self-love also requires us to avoid sacrificing our well-being to try and please others. By loving yourself, you actually can more easily express love towards others.
Maslow observed this in his studies. He writes, “Clinical study of healthier people, who have been love-need-satisfied, shows that although they need less to receive love, they are more able to give love. In this sense, they are more loving people.”
One common question that usually comes to mind is how self-love is different from being selfish. After all, self-love does include prioritizing one’s self over others. While there are definitely narcissistic, unhealthy forms of self-love, not all forms of self-love are unhealthy.
So that begs the question, what is healthy self-love?
What are examples of healthy self-love?
For starters, it can be:
- Preferring honesty over charm.
- Not wanting anything from other people except their love and friendship.
- Being authentically you, even if it may damage your reputation.
- Treating others as valuable in their own rights but not letting them take advantage of you.
- Taking the time to listen to others from all walks of life but knowing when to re-charge.
- Setting healthy boundaries.
- Forgiving yourself when you are not being nice or genuine to yourself.
- Prioritizing your own personal projects over the demands of others.
- Permit yourself to enjoy yourself.
Why is self love so important?
Let’s look at a few examples. I was reading the story of a 24-year-old woman named Asiya who was in a caustic four-year relationship that undervalued her goals and aspirations. Through this experience and break-up, she realized the importance of self-love.
Asiya says, “I, in the past, often acknowledged my friends and families’ achievements by undervaluing mine. My perspective in prioritizing myself was so distorted I viewed my accomplishments as ‘menial’ and constantly compared myself to others. I’m now learning that isn’t true self-love.
Loving myself makes everyone around me more valuable because I recognize the worth of my own efforts, trials, achievements and appreciate my efforts to fight for myself and be a better whole being. I’m no longer divided by comparisons because I always choose me.”
Then there is Melissa, who had to radically change her life after undergoing a significant health scare leading to a kidney transplant.
Melissa explains, “That meant leaving a career that I felt defined me and accepting that I had to rework my life and depend on others for the first time. I was lost and terrified. One day my therapist asked me what I was doing for myself. I was stumped! I realized that I wasn’t doing anything for myself.
I began to carve out moments that gave me pleasure from that day forward. I started with baby steps. A manicure. A walk with my dog. Getting lost in a great book. I’ve now reached a point where I’m taking action to explore a life that I’ve always wanted to live and never felt worthy or free enough to have. I’m so grateful for the simple question that was asked of me five years ago. It’s started me on an entire journey of my own making.”
These stories illustrate that the power of self-love is more significant than any other aspect of our life — after all, in this body, you will lie, and in this body, you will die. You will experience good times and bad, no matter what. And, it’s not always an easy path. Self-love requires healthy selfishness, which is rooted in patience, compassion, and learning to grow and be happy.
It is realizing that you can’t make anyone else happy unless you are at peace with yourself, and for that, self-love is essential. That is the whole point.
How do you learn self-love?
Accept your feelings.
We often find ourselves running away from what we feel, especially in the face of negative emotions. This is a constant hindrance to achieving self-love. Thus, the first step is to accept what you feel and be okay with it. Don’t invalidate your feelings and thoughts.
Stop pressuring yourself to be perfect.
The constant urge and pressure to be the most perfect person can be a real hurdle in one’s journey towards achieving self-love. Stop being so harsh on yourself and stop thinking that you are worth nothing without perfection.
Embrace the uncertainty!
We often beat ourselves over things that have happened in the past without realizing that some things are out of our control, and no matter how much we think about them, we can’t change them. Let go and accept the void.
Why is self love so tricky?
While it isn’t easy to extend love and compassion toward others, expressing love and compassion for ourselves can be even more challenging. That is because inner peace and happiness are synonymous with cultivating compassion toward ourselves, which is easier said than done.
Self-love and inner peace are more than just treating ourselves to a long walk, getting a massage, or taking a hot bath before bed. Although these things might help, self-love is an inner job. It has to do with self-compassion in treating ourselves and relating to our feelings.
It means intentionally finding the strength and resilience to embrace the full range of our human emotions that we encounter. It’s about looking inward so that we welcome our feelings rather than confront them with self-loathing or judgments. Being human means wrestling with uncomfortable emotions and accepting and loving yourself the way you are.
Habits that encourage self-love
No remarkable feat is achieved without adopting certain positive habits. Similarly, self-love also demands the development of such practices that encourage it. Let’s get into some of the most effective habits:
Take out time for yourself.
That sounds impossible, right? Because you are too busy? Too busy to take care of yourself? That seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? Sure work is essential, and it isn’t always possible to take out loads of time for ourselves so, it is sensible for you to start small. Start by taking out 15–30 minutes and doing something for yourself. That could be anything from reading a book, having a cup of coffee, going for a walk, journaling, or exercising.
Take care of your physical health.
Taking care of your body is one of the most critical aspects of self-love. What better way to feel good about yourself than keeping your body in shape? Create a habit of exercising regularly to release stress and re-charge your energy.
Choose your company carefully.
Self-love requires that you take time to sit alone and be at peace with your thoughts. It can be challenging if those around you do not have an understanding and supportive attitude. Let go of the negative influences and surround yourself with people who make you a better version of yourself. Our company has a significant impact on us, so spend your time with the people you love. This will make your journey of self-love much easier.
Become mindful to stop degrading yourself.
Tell yourself daily that you can achieve whatever you want, whenever you want it. Start the practice of journaling three things a day that you are gratified in receiving.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
Be content with what you have and stop thinking that you compete with someone.
The importance of self love is immense because only through loving ourselves can we love others and bring positive changes in other people’s lives. Self-love is key to finding fulfillment and achieving meaningful success in every aspect of life.
Those who have an altruistic and loving orientation toward others tend to foster that very same light. This ability to shine the spotlight of love is made possible, in large part, by the capacity to silence the ego.
Remember, there never has been, nor will there ever be a single person who ever lived on this planet that was you. You are unique. This uniqueness is your superpower. Don’t waste it. Live intentionally and start celebrating yourself.
“In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies, we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
Are you suffering from the hustle culture grind and is it causing you to feel miserable? Read my article on how to break free.
Check out John’s past episode on stop being a visionary arsonist. Catch up with Episode 9.
Are you having trouble prioritizing your time? John discusses the I Don’t Have Time Syndrome in Episode 2
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