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To experience wholeness and generalised happiness, you need to learn self-love. And these 16 practical ways of learning self-love are just what you need if you are having challenges in this area. I’m not talking about loving yourself in a self-centred kind of way, having a big ego, or seeking instant gratification in life without discipline. What I’m referring to is something fine and deeper like appreciating who you are, how you look and how you function.
What is self-love
Self-love is the appreciation for yourself that grows from actions that support your physical, spiritual and psychological growth. It means you valuing yourself and having a high regard for yourself.
Self-love cultivates healthy self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, which are cardinal aspects of your life. This is because they influence who and what you will accept in your life. They highly influence your mental wellbeing and quality of life. Self-love ultimately influences your happiness. If you like yourself, you are inclined to feel good about yourself, enjoying a deep sense of wholeness that no bad event can take away from you.
It’s impossible for you to be happy if you don’t like yourself. While you may walk about with a smile and put up a face of “having it all”, you’re likely to be filled with deep dread and sadness when you are alone facing your dislike for yourself.
Why is self-love important?
Self-love is key to your mental wellbeing as it keeps anxiety, depression and other mental health issues at a good distance. It eliminates issues of comparing self to others and bouts of envy. People who love and appreciate themselves are likely to live a life of gratitude and have higher chances of finding true happiness in life.
It’s impossible to give something that you do not have. If you don’t love and appreciate yourself, it will be hard for you to love and appreciate others. Consequently, you will find it hard to live and interact with others.
Previously, I wrote an article on how your thoughts are not private; What you think of yourself will affect your behaviour and attitude and you will send out negative vibes to those around you. And this will affect your quality of relationships and how others react to you. It’s hard to love someone who doesn’t love him/herself.
How do I know I lack self-love?
You may be lacking self-love if ;
- You’re needy.
- You despise your body.
- You compare yourself to others.
- You feel unworthy or unlovable.
- You feel you’re not good enough.
- You pretend or wish you were somebody else.
- You always live under someone else’s shadow.
- You often think negative thoughts towards yourself.
- You are highly judgemental and critical towards yourself.
- You avoid looking in the mirror or taking occasional photos.
The 16 practical ways of learning self-love.
So how can one practice self-love? All good things need work. You need to work on it. Never mind those people that seem to have it all good even without trying. We all can’t walk the same path. You and I may need to take deliberate steps to like and appreciate ourselves by applying these 16 practical ways of learning self-love.
So you have made several mistakes in your life, some major and embarrassing, some nobody knows about. So has everyone else including me. The secret lies in forgiving yourself and moving on. We all error, some are good at hiding their mistakes and pretending to be perfect. Others are not so good at it and their mistakes become a public spectacle. But that’s no reason to self-destruct. Learn to forgive yourself.
Practice saying no
Never be forced to do something that you are not comfortable with, not even for fame or a name. Your peace of mind is important to this journey of self-love. Also don’t allow anyone to push you around or use you for selfish gain or glory. Practice how to say no. This will only work if you put together a set of principles and boundaries for yourself that you cannot cross no matter what. What do you stand for? If you don’t stand for it, strongly say no! And mean it!
Every relationship needs boundaries, be it an intimate, family or workmate kind of relationship. Set your boundaries and don’t let anyone cross those boundaries. This also works better if you set your principles and make them known clearly by your way of life, not by your word of mouth. Just the way you live, what you accept and reject will show people how far they can ride you. And you will get the respect you deserve in areas that are strongly protected by your principles.
Compassion refers to having an understanding of someone’s pain and having the desire to alleviate it. Self-compassion refers to the same but directed to oneself. It is totally different from self-pity which is merely feeling sorry for oneself and yet not taking the necessary steps to appease the offending situation.
It’s not only necessary to understand others but highly necessary to understand yourself too. Empathise with yourself and work hard towards making life better for yourself even if it means protecting yourself from the critic inside you.
There’s knowing that you exist, then there’s knowing who you really are. Knowing who you are is being familiar with your personality, your strengths and weaknesses. It means knowing what you stand for, your principles, the core values that govern your life and what runs your engine. You need to spend quality time with yourself to know who you really are. And that quality time does not include hours of social media, because social media only causes identity crisis and loss of direction. Learn how to introspect the right way here.
Once you know who you are, you need to accept yourself. Its easier to do this if you avoid comparing yourself to others. One thing that causes self-acceptance to be so hard is to rate oneself against others. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin.
Believe in yourself
Depending on other people to believe in you is a recipe for self-destruction. The moment they look down on you, you will lose the drive or desire to carry on. Be your own cheerleader. Don’t do things to impress your family, friends or the public. Do things to fulfil your purpose and for self-development. Believe in your abilities, your worth and your value to society. Even if at the moment things seem dark for you, keep a vision and believe you will make a difference someday. If you keep the faith, it will surely happen.
Do not judge yourself
Those times that you feel like the whole world is judging you, its just your conscious playing tricks on you and probably your own self judging you. You feel like a worthless failure and everyone is sneering at you so you feel like a joke. If you have not caught them red-handed sneering at you, it’s probably all in your head. It’s known that we often pass judgements (usually harsh ones) on ourselves before everyone else does. You are your worst critic. Stop being too judgemental on yourself.
Know your needs
Happiness comes with the satisfaction of needs and a feeling of fulfilment. How can you satisfy needs that you do not know? This calls for knowing who you are and what you really need out of life. This article highlights the five basic human needs and will guide you on how to identify your needs.
Invest in yourself
Channel time, energy and money to yourself once in a while or when the need arises. Work on a dormant skill or develop a new one. Develop yourself academically, career-wise, and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
If you are well taken care of by yourself in those areas, you set a value on yourself that others will acknowledge and respect. Also, it will be easier for you to invest in others without neglecting yourself.
Set SMART goals for yourself
Usually, we find ourselves meeting failure because of the kind of goals we set for ourselves. Then we sit down and entertain self-pity and negative self-perceptions. Your self-set goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. We will discuss more of this topic in a later article.
Try again and again
Giving up or giving in must never be an option for you if you know where you are headed. Some distractions are works of the enemy simply meant to deter you and backing down would be to declare the enemy victorious. Sometimes, the enemy maybe someone close to you or your loved ones. They could also be instruments of the enemy either knowingly or unknowingly. Keep fighting, and pushing till you achieve. You are your own custodian of your success and happiness.
Give yourself a second, third or a million more chances
So you have failed once or a couple of times. Not everyone meets success with just one attempt. There could be some lessons you had to learn before getting to where you want to be. Dust yourself up, practice self-forgiveness and try again, and again, and again till you get what you want. Never give up. Keep the vision and don’t quit just because people around you are judging you or making fun of you. It’s your life, not theirs, own it.
Be patient with yourself
When you are working on yourself for self-improvement or development, you must learn to be patient with actual results. Certain habits are hard to drop or adopt (good ones). If you are always finding yourself back to square one, practice some patience and keep moving, the progress is more than you think. And usually, you may not personally feel it but others around you may notice the change in you. Keep moving.
Control your mind
Regulate what you let into your mind and caution what you meditate on. Avoid negativity and rumination. Never find yourself hating on yourself or thinking ill of yourself. Practice self-affirmations instead. You are what you think and your actions and reactions will be based upon what runs in your mind. If you’re an overthinker like me, this article may help you.
This is paying attention to yourself, not in a self-centred or narcissistic kind of way. But in a mindful sort of way, listening to your body cues and caring about your state of mind. It means caring for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Don’t self-harm, deliberately put yourself in harm’s way, or expose yourself to prolonged stress. Identify and get rid of stressors if possible. Care for yourself the way you would care for someone you love and cherish. Also, limit the amount of garbage you can take from others.
From my own personal experience, you need to have self-love to be happy. It took me a good number of years to achieve this and I can tell you that it’s one of the best lessons of love I’ve ever learned. Life is so much easier to navigate when you love and appreciate yourself.
The other thing you need to do is pinpoint what it is that causes you to dislike yourself. If it’s something you can change, work on it pronto! If it’s unchangeable, modify it, accept it, or try to use it to serve you.
Positive self-affirmations do a wonderful job in cultivating self-love. They offer a gateway to achieving wellness and wholeness by reconditioning your mind. Download a free template of self-love affirmations by entering your email address below.
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