Self-love is a popular term nowadays, you hear it come up in conversations regularly. Let’s start with looking at what self-love is? Self–love is not simply a state of feeling good. It’s a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. People who have more self–love tend to know what they think, feel and want. Learning how to love ourselves is key.
Self-love versus self-criticism
It’s easy for me to criticise or blame myself; sometimes, I do it without even realising I’m doing it. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. Being kind, loving and understanding to myself didn’t come as easy. Why? Because for a lot of us, it’s a habit. We put ourselves down, without even thinking about it most of the time. In society it’s something we see around us all the time from early childhood onwards. The majority of pain in our life is a result of us slipping out of alignment with our core values; self-love being one of them. That is why learning how to love ourselves versus how to criticise ourself is key.
Ditch your desire to be perfect
Perfectionism can feel like a trap. When you’re a perfectionist, you feel that strong need to be in control of your emotions. At some point, you stop acknowledging your accomplishments because there’s always that voice in your head that says “well… you could’ve done it better “. It’s like having that all-or-nothing attitude – unless you get a 100%, you get nothing. You spending more time worrying about failing than you do focusing on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. I, for one, can be very hard on myself and I like being in control. If something doesn’t go as planned, I’ll beat myself up for it.
My Little Miss Perfect
In one of my earlier coaching trainings we talked about your captain and crew, at the time my Little Miss Perfect was fulfilling the role of Captain in my life. She called the shots and was front and center. I started by getting to know my “Little Miss Perfect” as I call her. I discovered that she was actually trying to keep me safe and protect me and her way of doing that was making sure she had everything under control.
Next I took charge and told her it’s ok to let go of control and you don’t need to be perfect all the time. Because the thing is, once you let go of that need to be perfect all the time, you actually get to enjoy things more. It’s like learning to surrender. To surrender means not being afraid to look silly, to make mistakes, to change or be imperfect. It’s realizing that as much as you think you can control every aspect of your life, you can’t. In the beginning feeling less in control, can be unsettling because we might not be used to it. I’m still learning how to love myself more which is key to letting go of that need to control everything and there are some valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way which I’d love to share.
Self-love is the key to transformation
Learning how to love yourself is the key ingredient to living a happy and joyful life. It influences who you pick as a partner, the image you project at work, and how you deal with the problems in your life. Let’s be clear self-love is not something you can obtain through a beauty makeover, a new wardrobe or a new relationship. Although they might feel good and gratifying for a short term, these are not sustainable methods to help you develop a healthy dose of self-love.
Self-love is dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centred in our life purpose, know our values and expect living in fulfilment through our own efforts.It’s so important to your wellbeing that I want you to know how to bring more of it into your life. It’s so important to your wellbeing that I want you to know how to bring more of it into your life. Here are some my key learnings which you can try to improve your self-love.
Key actions to improve self-love
People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want out of life better. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities; exercise, meditation, food, amount of sleep and friendships.
Set healthy boundaries:
You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sharing some of my own story of that below.
Let go of blame:
We as humans can be so hard on ourselves. We need to stop punishing ourselves for mistakes and rather learn to see the learning and growth potential in them. You have to accept the fact that you aren’t perfect, before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you’ve learned and grown from your mistakes; they become priceless lessons.
Find your purpose:
You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you’ll make decisions that support this intention and feel good about yourself.
Set yourself up for success:
You’ll love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. Set small reachable goals for yourself and reward yourself once you have reached them. Start to keep a success journal.
Check your self-talk:
For the next 24 hours pay close attention to what you say about yourself or ask a friend to help you keep track and give you feedback on what he/she heard you say. Going forward make sure the language you use to describe yourself is positive! Remember there is no need to put yourself down.
Start a gratitude practice:
An important part of making this shift is focusing on the good and positive things happening in your life. Look at the things you’ve overcome, the things you’ve accomplished. Is there a way you could use the strength or knowledge what you already have to get you where you want to be?
My learnings and transformation
Introducing healthy boundaries is very important, in any kind of relationship; whether it’s a professional or a personal one. A lot of us are taught, from a young age, to put the need of others first, especially women. Then when we grow up, we often get lost in serving everyone, but ourselves. This excercise of consciously setting up healthy boundaries has changed a lot for me.
The fact is I love helping others, solving problems, coming up with creative solutions, supporting them, I’ll try to go out of my way to make them happy. In the past I never saw anything wrong with the fact that I was usually the one listening. I didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that over the years a lot of people around me got so used to me just “being there” ready to help.
However, when reflecting and looking back I noticed that saying “no” wasn’t a word I used easily – it had a lot of negative loading for me. I would work during weekends and spend hours on the phone. I’d say “yes” to things I didn’t feel like doing, meet with people I didn’t feel like meeting, I’d do a favor after favor. There was a point where I couldn’t really focus on what I wanted because I was so worried about everyone else.
Then, I attended a workshop which changed my perspective on letting people down and learnt to say ‘NO’ in a more constructive manner. After I decided it’s ok to take care of myself first before I help others, things started to change. At first I started with setting up some boundaries. As a next step I began being careful about giving away my energy to others. This was a major shift for me.
My main gain from learning how to love-myself through setting boundaries was that I had more energy and I stopped “bring” work- and work- problems home. If I’ve had a particularly tough day at work, I do some deep breathing exercises while sitting on the bus going back home, before entering my house and I leave my work feelings behind. I changed some of my friendships and the once which I decided to keep grew stronger. Setting up healthy boundaries is one of the most important acts of self-love. It’s sort of like drawing a line at a point where you become uncomfortable. You set boundaries, because you deserve it, and to be clear, no, it’s not selfish.
Think of it this way: when you give yourself the opportunity to be the best version of yourself, you can then take that love and wisdom and spread it around the people you love. If instead, you spend your life sacrificing yourself, ignoring your own needs, plans and dreams, you might never give yourself a chance to get to that point.
In summary it’s important that you learn to find your way back to allow more self- love into your life; it’s the key. Take it step by step. If you choose just one or two of these self-love actions (see above) to work on, you’ll begin to accept and love yourself more. Just imagine how self-love will change your life.
I believe it’is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise actions of self-love that I describe here, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way. The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for a healthy relationship. Even better, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.
Enjoy learning the key actions to love yourself more!