When you love someone, you do the best for them. You support them, believe in them, and accept them for who they are. The same remains true for loving yourself — because when you begin to truly love yourself, you’re motivated to be the best you can be.
When you think of self-development, you might think that you need to raise your standards or become more self-disciplined, but in reality you must also practise self-compassion too.
Although these two thought processes may appear to be conflicting at first, they actually work harmoniously together. This is because the more you strive to improve your overall wellbeing, the more love you give to yourself. And the more self-love you show, the more able you are to grow and develop.
What is self-love?
Self-love is about having acknowledgment for your own wellbeing and happiness. It is taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your wellbeing to please others.
Research shows that self-compassion and self-love are key for mental health and wellbeing, and people who exhibit these traits have less anxiety, depression and fear of failure.
When you love yourself more you can change your perspective of the world. The rewards from self-love include a more positive attitude, motivation for better and healthier choices, less stress, and increased happiness.
So with that in mind, how can you cultivate more self-love?
Ways to love yourself
Know when to rest. Making time for rest can recharge your ability to cope with the demands of daily life. Rest is vital as it allows your body to repair itself and your brain to consolidate memories and process information.
Deadlines at work, family commitments, or chores at home can easily drain your energy over time. Watch out for these warning signs:
- Feeling unusually fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Getting unwell often
Take time to check in with your body regularly to see how you’re feeling to help prevent mental and physical burnout.
Accept who you are. You can’t move forward and improve yourself if you are rejecting who you are, how you feel, and what you need.
Research shows that our self-esteem rises the moment we stop being so hard on ourselves. For this reason, it’s important to stop negatively judging yourself. Accept who you are — get comfortable with your emotions, don’t let negative thoughts take over, admit your mistakes and try not to let fear get in the way.
Stop hanging out with toxic people. If you have friends that drain you, make you feel bad and are negative all the time, it might be time to end the friendship. Scientific research indicates that negativity is contagious like a cold and has the potential to hold you back and stop you from becoming the best version of yourself.
To end a negative relationship you might want to try setting boundaries to avoid spending too much time with them, or be upfront about how you feel.
Do more of what you love. Taking the time to do things that you love is important — not only for your short-term happiness, but also for your mental and emotional wellbeing. When you do something that you love every day your motivation will improve, productivity will increase, and your outlook on life will change because you’ve got something to look forward to.
Try to do something you love everyday — this might be reading, discovering new music, sitting in the sun or spending time with your children or pets.
Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes. In healthy doses, self-critique can be helpful, through reflection. But in excess this can be harmful and instead of helping you reach your goals or become a better version of yourself, self-criticism belittles you and makes you miserable.
Understand that you are not perfect and that you will make mistakes, but learn from these mistakes and only allow positive thoughts to carry forward.
Make eating and sleeping well a priority. Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. As is eating a balanced, nutritious diet . When you’re well-rested and well-nourished, you are able to focus your attention, take on new information and feel more positive about life.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Practise good sleep habits and eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Let go of the past with ease. When you refuse to let go of the past, it holds you back and prevents you from living in the moment and being who you really want to be.
If you’re able to let go and start accepting things as they are instead of how you’d like them to be, you’ll find that you’ll suffer less from the problems of stress, emotional ties to the past, frustration with others, struggles with loss, and succumbing to fear.
Believe in yourself. You can do anything you want. All you need to do is honestly believe that you can. When you believe in yourself, you can overcome self-doubt and have the confidence to take action and get things done.
Apply consistency, determination, and perseverance in setting and reaching your goals. When you make decisions — stick to them, and follow through. Never give up on your ideas and the things that you believe in.
Try new things. Research shows that trying new things is very important to our wellbeing, so much so there is a dedicated term for the love of what is new — neophilia. Neophilia is a predictor of longevity because it turns out that people who seek out novel experiences live healthier, happier lives
Trying something new is great because it offsets a repetitive and mundane life and therefore you’ll feel more excited and motivated moving through your day. Trying new things allows you to expand your mind and learn — both about new things, and yourself.
Self-love isn’t vanity but sanity
Despite the misconception that loving yourself is selfish or narcissistic, self-love is something that we all need. When you start loving yourself and taking responsibility for your health and wellbeing, everything shifts.
Believing in your abilities will help you get rid of your fears and doubts, so you won’t be afraid of pursuing your dreams and passions. You will finally accept who you are and become responsible for taking the day-to-day actions that manifest growth in your life.