Initially published July 28, 2020. Updated July 22, 2021.
Just the words or the idea of actually loving yourself is exciting, encouraging, joyous, and really worth the time and effort. In the world today, many define self-love as being narcissistic or selfish, when in fact that isn’t the case at all. There is a significant difference between self-love and narcissism, but that’s a whole different topic.
Self-love is healthy and something we must do in order to give and receive love within and outside of ourselves.
Self Love is defined as:
regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).Lexico.com
Furthermore, there is an awesome quote written in an article by Thought Catalog that really caught my attention, and adds more understanding to the definition of self-love. It says:
Self-love means understanding who you really are, and being yourself in this crazy world. Self-love means understanding that people’s opinions about your life don’t matter.Thought Catalog
What a great quote right? I think we forget to take care of ourselves when we are busy worrying about what people might think or how the best choices we could make in a situation, might not be well received by those we value.
The thing is, WE MUST VALUE OURSELVES FIRST AND FOREMOST.
This is why, in August 2020, I am starting the #ILOVEMECHALLENGE2020…
The challenge is designed to help me, and anyone else who wants to join, to think for and love ourselves without allowing others to pollute who we are.
Why do we need to worry about others, when we do not look for or worry for ourselves?
If we listen to ourselves, rather than the opinions and beliefs of others, we find the most shocking revelations. That WE MUST LOVE OURSELVES, so we can show empathy, compassion, love, and acceptance to others.
What are 5 Ways to Start Loving Yourself Today
There are 5 simple ways that started my self-love journey, and if by sharing them with you, they somehow change your life, then that’s all I can hope for in writing this post.
My journey to finding and loving myself came in the wake of an emotional breakup from a nearly 6-year relationship. When he first moved out, my internal dialog became so damaged that I believed I was unworthy of love, not enough for partnership, ugly, messy, chaotic, etc. I basically started abusing myself and retaliating against myself rather than taking this new opportunity to be truly happy in my future.
It took me so long to recognize and accept that the only person in this situation that I had control over was me. After a lengthy period of pain, emotion, and challenging myself, I developed a truly loving dialog with myself, that I continue to build on today. The thing about the self-love journey, and healing yourself with your own powerful healing power, is that you learn to listen to yourself, and you learn to believe in yourself.
In life, the most traumatizing, demoralizing, horrifying, and chaotic things we survive, despite how much we don’t believe we deserved to survive these events, shape our courage and create strength to handle what will come.
As you read through my 5 self-love tips, take the time you need (however long it might take) to really accomplish each one fully. I know you will notice a difference in your own self-worth, self-esteem, and self-value.
1: Discover A Passion
Directly after a major change in my own life, it helped me big time to discover, or rediscover, my passion. I highly recommend you begin to look for a passion or rediscover what you love again. Here’s some food for thought.
What do you love doing but haven’t done it in so long you forgot you loved it? What makes you feel full, excited, and satisfied? What makes you forget about time?
Some of you already know that you have a passion, but for the rest of us, we are saying, “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MY PASSION IS!!!” The thing is, half the fun is in the discovery.
I knew I loved music, I am mostly extroverted, so I love people and busy places, I love dancing, I love singing and I love to laugh and crack jokes. I knew I had hobbies, but were any of them a passion? Could any of these things truly distract my broken heart and lead me on a path to taking all the love that I had inside of me, and start giving it to myself?
If you need help finding a passion, then Google, “How to Discover my Passion.” You will find tons of resources.
There is an awesome article by Oprah called, “The Secret to Finding Your Passion (Hint: It’s Not What You Think).” And she says:
Love everything you do.
From this moment forward, if you don’t like something, you’ve got two choices: stop doing it (quit, delegate it, hire it out) OR love it with all your heart.
Anything else is madness.
When you commit to love everything you do, you strengthen your “passion muscles” from the inside out and open up a divine channel so that what you’re meant to do can be revealed.Read more: http://www.oprah.com/supersoulsunday/the-secret-to-finding-your-passion-hint-its-not-what-you-think_1#ixzz6RypF41fN
I truly agree with her!! She really made me question if I was truly loving everything in your life because if I don’t, there is really no passion to be seen without loving the life I am creating for myself.
Discovering, or rediscovering, your passion(s) is the fun part of truly loving yourself. I hope you embrace this adventure and take your time!!
2: Make a Plan & Commit
I found a great article by Psychology Today called “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love.” I loved the entire article, but these words stood out most:
People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.Psychology Today – “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love”
The journey to self-love involves having a plan to change and committing to it. The plan involves letting go of who you think you should be and being who you want to be.
For me, I knew I was completely lost after my breakup and I felt totally alone. I didn’t know how to forgive myself for what I felt was a huge waste of time, or look myself in the mirror and believe I was worthy or beautiful or enough for anyone else, including me and my children. At that moment, my plan was to wallow for a long time or, if the depression got worse, to just end the suffering and commit suicide. I know that’s a serious situation, but it is my truth that I needed to embrace to really begin loving myself. My life was at risk, and I knew my only option was to start loving myself, or I would die at my own hands over a broken heart.
The main problem with pain is that I don’t have a high tolerance for it. In my own opinion at the time, my threshold for pain was a result of being weak. I told myself “I am weak”, therefore I shouldn’t keep trying to be happy with someone else. Then I wouldn’t have to be broken down and weak ever again. Logical, yet complete bullshit. I didn’t know then what I know now, I wasn’t weak. In fact, I was hurting, which made me capable of feelings, thus I was strong for having feelings, even if they weren’t positive. But planning a journey to loving myself, at that moment, felt impossible.
If you are like me, making plans is just for Type A people, and I’m more like Type Z. I like to believe I can follow a plan (maybe), but the idea of creating one is NOT something I thrive at or enjoy. This is where delegating the task to someone who is a planner, helped me TREMENDOUSLY!
I turned to my mom and my friends. My mom is one of the people in my life who gets me but also drives me to take the chaos inside and turn it into something that makes sense. If you are like me, turn to the planners in your life for some guidance, they live for that kind of stuff and thrive in creating plans.
If you are a planner, take a moment to build a plan that is fluid and flexible, not rigid or complicated with many weaknesses and potential for failure. The plan to starting the self-love journey needs room to breathe, evolve, and transform as needed. Planning every moment will only leave you believing you aren’t capable of loving yourself, and I KNOW YOU ARE!
3: Journal & Routine
Is there anyone else who hears or reads the word routine and becomes physically uncomfortable? NEWS FLASH, you are FOR SURE not alone.
Routine for me my cup of coffee in the morning, my shower at night, my soft sleep music and my medications. Other than that, the rest is up to the day. I don’t do routine and I certainly didn’t know how to begin to create one. So here’s what I did to get it started.
I began by journeying to Canggu in Bali, Indonesia where I attended a 3-week retreat at Be Kind Retreats. I went by myself, to another country. I had never left America, never thought I would want or need to, but it was a game-changer for me. During my time in Bali, I learned how to do Yoga, chant Kirtan, Chakra Dance, and meditate. I began to document the journey in a private journal, then eventually, I started my healing out loud on a blog called The Panic Spot.
I learned how to create healthy routines, and I do believe journal keeping was the reason. By journaling, I was able to see my thoughts on paper and it turned into a routine. I started to embrace the routine of journaling. Then other routines began to happen, like eating breakfast, drinking water, waking up at certain times, and going to bed at certain times. This routine changed, evolved, and grew with me. Things could be added, and things could be removed, but the main things stayed and I reprogrammed myself to determine what the main things are.
4: Set Boundaries & Protect Yourself
In order to truly love yourself, boundaries are essential. When we set a boundary with ourselves or someone else, we are teaching ourselves and others how we wish to be treated. This begins with setting boundaries for ourselves and then expanding these boundaries to others.
As we mature in spirit, mind, and body, boundaries are the binding agent that allows our growth to be positive and create a sense of self-worth and value. By setting firm but fair boundaries, we encourage fulfilling relationships rather than draining relationships. Draining relationships are the type that takes from our positive energy and leave us exhausted. Personally, these draining relationships turn into depression for me, so I make an effort to keep firm boundaries in place to ward off the depression that will follow neglecting my needs.
Boundaries also teach us how to protect ourselves from people who don’t do the work to take care of themselves. I have had friends in my life, whom I loved and still love dearly, but their particular way of conducting themselves in a conversation or interaction with me drained me. With some of them, I didn’t get the option to be myself and live wholeheartedly, and with others, I was constantly hiding parts of myself to make them feel better. Inevitably, I chose to let them go. I am the type of person who will open a controversial conversation and then allow someone to speak on the topic without judgment. I started to create boundaries when people choose to not allow me to speak and I will not waste drain myself on someone who is ill-equipped to give and take. This is my boundary to protect myself from being drained in stuffing down who I am for the respect of a friend or loved one who isn’t letting me be me.
In all circumstances, I judge whether I am being stuffed down to protect someone else’s feelings or feeding into a lack of compromise to listen more than speak. If I determine that my relationship with that person will require me to be a watered-down version of myself, I always choose to let them go with love.
Here is an awesome quote from a blog I read on thecollective.com:
In the Buddhist tradition, desire and attachment are considered the root of suffering. Buddhist teachings emphasize non-attachment— and that isn’t limited to material things.How to be your authentic self in relationships – Alyssa James
Learn how to set boundaries. Here is a great article by HealthLine.com to get you started.
5: Be Authentic Always
Being Authentic is extremely difficult for some of us. For me, I came by this somewhat naturally as I learned to set boundaries. In addition, I learned how to break negative cycles with journalling, and that started to unveil the real me.
But what does it mean to be authentic?
Brene Brown is the perfect person to explain authenticity. She says:
To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.Brene Brown
Brene Brown taught me the foundations of her research into understanding the wholehearted people she studied. She did a few fantastic TED Talks about her research and it opened my eyes a great deal. (Links below).
Another great article I found on Medium.com entitled, “How to Unlock Your Authentic Self and Become Remarkable in Every Way,” by Matt Russell, offered some very endearing advice. He says:
When we fill our mind with seeds of comparison and negativity, we produce feelings of inadequacy. Likewise, when we fill our mind with seeds of positivity, we cultivate feelings of worth and value.How to Unlock Your Authentic Self and Become Remarkable in Every Way by Matt Russell
To Russell, and I wholeheartedly agree, impressions, gratitude, and affirmations are important on the journey to being authentic. He deliberately inquires about family members or encounters in your life that have left an impression on you, then asks you if you are leaving an impression on yourself. Then he speaks about affirmations by saying:
Affirm your potential: Whenever I approach a new situation or challenge, I don’t just see it through the lens of my current capabilities, I also see it through my potential. I have found that when we affirm our ability to grow and become better, we shrug off public opinion and self doubt, which actually allows us to become our best self. Every day I try to affirm to myself not only what I am, but also what I can be.How to Unlock Your Authentic Self and Become Remarkable in Every Way by Matt Russell
Being authentic comes from believing in yourself and the things you choose to believe in wholeheartedly come from you, not public opinion, self-doubt, and not popular opinion. Being able to identify who you are without having to be forced or led to believe it, is true authenticity.
I encourage you to become authentic!! I really enjoyed and I am still enjoying the journey. I personally follow Brene Brown, Matt Russell, Amber Rae, and Candace Owens for a source of strong authentic examples. The reason I selected these 4 people is that, whether I agree with them or not, they stay true to their purpose, their identity, and their true selves. That’s the person I aspired to be when I began this healing journey, therefore, I follow those who show me the way they do it. I strongly urge you to find your own authentic heroes to keep you focused as you began your work.
Putting it all together
To love yourself means to know yourself. To love yourself means to value yourself. To love yourself means to be willing to be yourself and stand in your truth even when it leads to the loss of those who aren’t meant for you.
We all crave love, connection, and belonging, but at what cost?
To be emotionally available for love, connection, and belonging with others, it must happen with loving ourselves first. Who you are is not limited to what you already know or believe, and who are you doesn’t come from the opinions or beliefs of others, but there is a fire inside of you that is waiting to be seen, heard and free to just be.
Here are the videos of Brene Brown’s TED Talks. A short and powerful video to start your journey of self-love.
Some Suggested Reading:
I highly recommend this post by Confidence Headquarters, entitled, “50 Ways to Practice Self-Love And Increase Confidence.” I found the post to be extremely well-written, full of thoughtful ideas, and very practical for any and everyone. Additionally, the research and effort put into this post are extremely refreshing. The author, Mike Wilhelm, takes the time to share his sources and additional resources for you to review.