I often read about people preaching about the importance of self-love. Often to overcome feelings of depression. Less often I read about how to get there, if you are on the opposite side at the moment. The contrast between having no self-love at all and the distance between reaching the state of self-love can then often become too much of a cryptic challenge and remain too far out of reach.
Self-love is however a very important component of living a full and happy life. It nourishes you from within, making sure you are equipped properly to face all that life has to offer. Self-love is a very different thing than self-worship though. But the sound of it, can often confuse people with these two completely different things. Self-worship, when we put ourselves above others, can have very negative effects on yourself and on others. Self-love is not a negative thing though. It is certainly not about selfishness, even though it may seem to some people that way when they think they spend too much time on themselves. Self-love has the goal to make sure you value yourself as any other person and that you make sure that any self-doubts do not restrict you of having a full and meaningful life.
So here are some of the ways, that I have found very useful, in no particular order. Just try one of them to begin with. There is no need to practice them all at once! It is about training your brain to start to think in a positive way and this takes practice.
- Embrace the things that make you different than others. Those are the things that make you unique. Everyone sees and experiences life in their own way. No one will ever feel the same way or think the same way that you do. Cherish the authenticity of yourself and see the beauty in it.
- Don’t live for the approval of other people around you. We often get caught up in what other people expect of us. Make sure you do the things you want and do them to impress you and you only. Feeling proud of something you have done can be a bit difficult for people who mainly look for external appreciation. This however leads to giving external sources (other people) the power over how you feel about yourself. So practice, and then practice some more on how to be proud of the things you do, just for you.
- Incorporate more calmness in your mind. Deep breathing relaxation techniques can help with this. How to practice this: breath slowly in through your nose for the duration of 4 seconds, then hold for 2 seconds and breath slowly out through your mouth for 4 seconds. Continue this for a few minutes. This will help calm down your central nervous system in your body, which leads to more calmness in your head and thoughts. Now that you have calmed your thoughts, it is important to nourish them with good thoughts. I often use YouTube videos that use ‘positive self-affirmations’ (just type in self-affirmations in the YouTube search and you will find many versions, on many areas of life). These videos are guided spoken videos that need to be listened to many times, in order to start believing in the self-affirmations more and more.
- Treat others around you with love and respect. It will make you feel better about yourself as a person. It really does not matter how others treat you in return. It just matters that you exhibit the way you are and shine in your behavior towards others, and that you can be proud of that.
- Before you go to bed, think of 3 things that you have accomplished during the day. It can be little things, such as doing the laundry, doing something creative, or perhaps doing one of these steps. It really does not matter how small it is. Making sure you guide your thoughts in this way, trains your brain to see more and more positive things during the day.
- Forgive yourself. Perhaps feelings of shame or feelings of anger haunt you once in a while or maybe more often. Sometimes the negative effects are unnoticed and in your subconscious. If these feelings do not serve you anymore, make sure to let them go. Sometimes we can learn from such a past event, but sometimes there really is nothing to learn. Things can go wrong without the option of preventing them, that is just life. So to repeat what I mean with this, if it therefor does not serve you any more, make sure to not carry them around any more. Keep telling yourself that these certain thoughts do not serve you any more, that they only inhibit you and that it therefor deserves no room anymore in your life. Practice this every time the thoughts/feelings occur.
- Surround yourself with the people who love you in your life. They are the ones that believe in you. They are also the ones that do not expect you to go through any hardships in life on your own. Very often we try to protect our loved-ones from our problems. But true love also means being there for the other in times of darkness and in many cases will only strengthen the bond.
- Be creative. Perhaps you already have creative outlets, but don’t practice them enough. Such as writing, painting, gardening and many more other activities. Make sure to practice them at least a few times in a week. They bring calmness, a sense of accomplishment and let your brain work in a very positive manner. Trying something new can also work wonders. As a person there are so many things to discover and making sure to try new things every now and then will often lead to new discoveries about yourself. So keep discovering!
- Nourish and take care of yourself. When you are feeling down, this is probably a very difficult thing to do. It is okay if you can’t eat perfectly healthy, groom every inch of yourself and exercise enough. But it is important to try to make a small change every day. For example, trade in 1 meal for a healthy meal once a day and eat the same the rest of the day. Or give yourself a nice in-shower full scrub, to wash off all of the dirt and start more freshly. Start with small things, be proud when you have accomplished one, and then…repeat!
- The last one I would like to mention is a very important one, and that is to be patient with yourself during this journey. Change is a very difficult, but therefor often a very rewarding path. Self-love needs to be practiced every day in order for it to be mastered. Perhaps you will not feel any different after one day. But practice these steps as much as you can and for example evaluate the effect of it after a month. I guarantee it will create a positive change, however small or large it may be!
If you have any suggestions or questions, please let me know!
Happy Easter to everyone!