The phrase, how to love yourself, might be so obvious and self-explanatory. You just do it and it happens automatically, right?
But do you criticize yourself? Do you feel like you have to be perfect to be loved? Are you afraid you will never find love? Do you want to know how to stop this? If your answer is yes to any of these, then keep on reading.
How to love yourself more, in 10 different ways.
1. Believe you can love yourself
It starts with what you believe about yourself. If you believe that you are not worthy of something, then it will become true for you. Maybe you don't believe you deserve a promotion, or a raise, or that hot guy with a great personality. You've already convinced yourself that no good will come to you and the Universe will support you on this.
Have you ever wanted to get something so bad that you knew if you worked long enough, you would get it? And you did! That is because you believed it and it came true.
The same holds true for love.
Say the following exercise to yourself at least once everyday. It may seem strange at first, or even silly. That's okay. You'll start to believe in it the more you practice it. I believe in Love. I deserve Love. I am Loving. I am Loveable.
2. I am perfect right now
Most of the time, we are our own worst critic. How many times have you cursed at yourself for saying the wrong thing and felt embarrassed? Or you made a critical mistake at work and called yourself an idiot?
You may be one of those who gets angry at yourself all the time for your shortcomings. You see a pattern of self-judgment and blame and it is wearing down your soul.
Stop this cycle of self judgement and blame.
Tell yourself, I am perfect where I am, how I am, right here and now. I choose not to judge myself. I accept myself exactly as I am.
Don't wait until you have a perfect bikini bod, perfect friends, a perfect partner, three doctorate degrees, or lots of money. You are perfect simply for being you.
3. Release and forgive
Release fear and forgive all. Fear is a blockage to love. So is having resentment, anger, blame, jealousy, shame and guilt. They can create patterns in your life that are negative and manifest in different forms and situations.
The only reason we have fear is to protect ourselves. In the past, fear helped to avoid clear and imminent danger. Now people use to protect themselves from something that doesn't actually exist.
Most of the time, it is False Evidence Appearing Real. Nothing more. Be willing to release it and whatever caused it and you will start to have more love.
Holding in negative emotions are also blockages to love, such as anger, resentment, blame, jealousy, guilt and shame. You probably felt those emotions as a child and an adult. And maybe shamed yourself for feeling them. Be willing to forgive yourselves and those who hurt you to create more room for love.
4. Eternal moment
We have only this moment right now. We can never have the past or live in the future. If you are not happy now, then you are robbing yourself of joy.
You can train yourself to be more present with mindfulness techniques. It is a practice that helps you bring your attention to the present moment. It fosters awareness, acceptance and love.
5. Stop punishing yourself
Most of the time, we are the ones punishing ourselves. Whether or not we caused the pain. We can be our own harshest critic.
When you are doing well, you might tell yourself that this won't last and you just got lucky. When things don't go your way, you criticize yourself harder than anyone else can.
Stop and be gentle with yourself. Choose love and be willing to let go. You will not be punished for choosing love and loving yourself.
6. Don't compare yourself to others
People have a natural tendency to compare themselves to others. It may make you feel better to compare yourself to someone less attractive than you. Or worse if someone is more attractive than you.
True love comes from within. Not from your mom, or dad, or spouse or kids. Love and trust in yourself. No one else has your experiences, life lessons or worldview.
A simple exercise is to look yourself in a mirror and tell yourself I love you. It might sound weird, but with daily practice, it gets easier and more believeable.
7. Stop judging others
Has someone ever cut you off in line? Or you said hello and that someone didn't say hello back? You felt embarrassed, slighted and started calling them all sorts of profanities in your head. It is a natural tendency to judge others so that you can feel better about yourself.
This type of behavior is only destructive to yourself. The other person may not have heard you or may be having a bad day.
Instead of judging others, think of people as your greatest teachers. You can always learn something from someone else, regardless of age, race, gender, belief or status. This can foster compassion and love.
8. Express yourself
As babies, our only means of communication was to express our emotions and feelings. We cried, laughed, got angry and we were not afraid to let the whole world know it.
As we grew older, the adults in our lives told us to stop crying, don't get upset, don't laugh too hard, you're too old to be x, y and z. We were taught this because they were taught this and their parents were taught this and so on.
Somewhere along the line we learned that expressing our feelings and emotions leaves us open to criticism and judgement. Thus making ourselves feel vulnerable and exposed. You may have been taught that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness.
So we hold in our feelings and leave them stuck inside, never to see the light of day. Then we wonder why we feel so stressed and tired. Our stomachs ache, our backs ache, our feet ache. Because we were not allowed to express our feelings fully.
Don't filter out your feelings and emotions. Be gentle with yourself and don't judge them. Love them all, even the negative ones. They came from you and are very much a part of you.
9. Slow down, take a rest, sleep
Rest and sleep are essential for proper functioning but are often regarded as a waste of time. We live in a society that rewards speed, efficiency and the willingness to sacrifice rest to achieve these things. Yet we know that when we don't get enough rest, our minds are foggy and our bodies are sluggish.
Slowing down, resting and sleeping allows us to get back to ourselves, to reconnect and recharge. It fosters not only physical health but also spiritual, mental, social and emotional health. Our creativity also flows better when we allow our mind and body to be at rest.
Turn off your computer or phone or anything distracting. Take that coffee or tea break. Get out your mat and do some yoga. Sit on your chair and meditate. Light some candles and draw a soothing bath.
Do something relaxing. The simplest way to give yourself some love is to slow down, rest and get enough sleep.
10. Have fun and enjoy
You can choose to have fun and enjoy yourself right now. When we were children, we didn't make plans to enjoy and have fun. It came so naturally and easy to us. It was as simple as drawing a picture, running around on the grass, eating a bowl of ice cream, playing tag or playing pretend with stuff that was lying around the house.
Life becomes busy when we turn into adults. Fun and joy seem more elusive as time slips from our fingertips. Even scheduling and planning for fun can feel coerced and steal the enjoyment from it. It doesn't have to take much effort at all. You don't always have to schedule it into your busy life.
Simply stop and notice what you are doing. You are not trying to force yourself to be anything or do anything. You are simply allowing yourself to have fun and love it.
How to love yourself at last
Learning how to love yourself does not have to be hard. You can love yourself right now. Start with believing that you deserve love. Forgive yourself and others and stop judging yourself and others.
This allows love to flow easily to you. Stop punishing yourself and comparing yourself with others. You are perfect the way you are right now. Express yourself, give yourself plenty of rest, enjoy the moment and have fun. To love yourself is to be free.