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I’m sure you’ve heard at least once that you should love yourself. Especially this month and even more if you’re single, you’ve probably heard self-love is the answer. I talked about it briefly in my post “What to do when you’re single in the month of love“. If this sounds hard or impossible, you’re not alone. When you hear about self-love you might also start thinking things like “if I love myself, how can I improve, how can I become a better person?” “I hate myself so that I can push myself harder, become the best version of me”. STOP. Please just stop. I used to think all that. And I know now I was wrong.
Hate will never bring anything good. It’s an illusion. You cannot improve something you hate. Nothing positive has ever come out of hate. The shift from hate to love will not happen over night, it’s a process. Here are some of my tips to help you on your journey towards self-love.
Self-love is a journey
It’s not something you do on a Valentine’s Day when you’re single. It’s not something you do only for the holidays, or for a week or a month. And it’s not something you do when you succeed at something, to then go back to hate when you fail. Self-love is a journey. And it should last a lifetime.
Many of us believe we can get away with practicing self-love while we’re single. And when we finally find our significant other, we can go right back to hating ourselves, our bodies, because there’s someone else to love us. And if we’re honest, that’s all we care about. Later, when our partner starts acting less loving towards us, when he starts treating us differently than what we’d want we are shocked. Why don’t they love us anymore? Let me ask you this: how could they, when you don’t love yourself. When immediately after ending your single journey, you start criticizing yourself. I get it, you’re doing it in your mind, they don’t know it. News flash: what you think about yourself, how you feel about yourself, it reflects. That’s what the others will see. That’s what you transmit.
So why would you ever want to silently tell the others you are worthless, stupid, ugly, fat? Why not tell them you are an amazing person, doing her best everyday through this weird thing called life? Why not tell them you have a body that may not look like the models in the magazines, but it’s a healthy body, it allows you to be a joyful person, to shower others with love, to be there for them? Doesn’t that sound like a better way to “advertise” yourself?
Self-love is a practice
And that means, inevitably, it takes time. If you practice yoga you are used to hearing yoga is not just a workout, it’s a practice. And if you’ve been familiar with yoga long enough, you start understanding why that is. The more you practice, the better you get. And there will be day when you are in great shape, flexible and feeling good, there’ll be days when the contrary will be true. But it’s a practice. It’s something you do over time, maybe a few times a week, maybe daily. In time, you get better. The same is true for self-love. It’s not something to do every now and then when you need a mood boost. It’s something to practice daily. You might be really bad at it at first. You might tell yourself you love and accept yourself, while not really feeling it. Keep going. Stay in that mindset.
Self-love is who you are
Practice is great, but at the end of the day, for practice to work, something within you needs to change. If you tell yourself everyday you are an amazing person, that’s a first step, sure. However, you have to let the shift happen. Because if you are coming from a place of hate, it will be hard to shut out the voice that tells you you’re a horrible person. You need to truly let it go. Let go of that voice that tells you you’re wrong, ugly, worthless. Forgive yourself.
Something that really helped me in these moments when hate wouldn’t lessen its grip on me was to journaling. You don’t need a fancy journal for this, just a piece of paper, or even your computer. Write down why you hate yourself. What is it that you believe is wrong with you? Write everything that comes to mind. Then make it a goal to demolish those myths. Write down why what you wrote down is wrong.
Example: you wrote you are fat. Demolishing that statement: you can move, you have a healthy heart and lungs and legs and you can start moving your body. Another example: say you wrote you are stupid because you didn’t succeed at goal X. What did you succeed at though? Maybe your career didn’t advance as far as you dreamt, but maybe in return you have beautiful kids and a loving husband. Maybe you are single and have been for years. OK, but what have you accomplished in this time? And look at the great friends you have. For every negative thing you wrote, write something positive.
Be your best friend
And talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend. Would you tell them they are ugly or worthless when they are having a bad day? Or would you point out what an amazing person they are and that you are there for them? I’m sure most people would go for the second. Of course, if the friend really did screw up badly you can try to point that out. But even then you’d do it gently. You want to help them learn from their mistakes and become better. You don’t want to crush them any further.
So why do you keep crushing yourself? Why do you talk to yourself as if you are your worst enemy? Practice being your best friend! If you want more tips on how to put self-love first, I recommend this article on the HuffingtonPost. It contains some great ideas on how to place self-love first.