Self-love can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. This article will teach you how self-love works, 5 practical tips for practicing it, and 3 simple exercises to put it into practice today.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
You are Whole and Worthy
Every human being on this planet was born whole and worthy. However, life is challenging and sometimes breaks us down. Over time, we learn how to protect ourselves. Turning down invites to dates or hangouts helps us avoid the risk of rejection. Eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s dulls the pain of heartbreak.
In these moments, it’s hard to be your own biggest fan. You may feel far from the whole, worthy person you were born to be. You may beat yourself up for not reaching your potential. However, if you reflect on the times when you’ve done this, you know that shame sinks you even deeper. It’s difficult to heal from your wounds when you’re beating yourself up.
“Love yourself unconditionally, just as you love those closest to you despite their faults.”
Love Yourself to Wellness
When it comes to healing and personal growth, self-love can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolkit. I have seen clients suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and even PTSD feel more resilient, empowered, and comfortable in their own skin.
Self-love acts as an important antidote for the pain of the most vulnerable parts of you. The inner critic softens, the emotions no longer feel so scary, and “flaws” don’t seem so fatal. Under the warm light of self-love, shame begins to melt away, and often the out-of-control behaviors you were so ashamed of are not so strong anymore.
The Transformative Power of Self-Love
But don’t just take my word for it. A study in South Africa found that leaders reported self-love to be critical to leadership and performance. Studies suggest that self-compassion, a form of self-love towards your own suffering, can be a powerful coping strategy in crisis situations, even reducing the risk of suicide in veterans.
Self-compassion is also linked to overall well-being. Higher levels of self-compassion have been linked to increased happiness, positivity, satisfaction with life, and even motivation. On the flip side, self-compassion has also been a powerful tool to “lower levels of depression, anxiety, stress, rumination, body shame and fear of failure.”
If you want to experience the power of self-love for yourself, read below for tips and exercises you can try today.
Tips for Increasing Self-Love
- Practice. Even if you doubt your ability to love yourself, you have the capacity for self-love inside of you. It is possible to exercise it and strengthen it, like a muscle. Choose a way of practice and do it regularly, such as daily or weekly.
- Leverage your relationships. If you find it easier to love others, you can leverage this to build self-love for yourself. You can envision someone you love, or who loves you, and then turn this love towards yourself. A guided meditation I created can help you do this.
- Recognize that you don’t need to earn it. Remind yourself that love and compassion don’t need to be earned. Being your best self is not a prerequisite for love. Rather, self-love helps you become the person you want to be.
- Connect to your inner child. It can be helpful to see yourself as the innocent baby or small child you once were, and send love towards them.
- Experience it. While learning about self-love can help shift your perspective, the most powerful transformation comes when you really feel it, not just read about it.
“To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.”
3 Exercises That Put These 5 Tips Into Action
- Journaling: write yourself a love letter. You can get creative and write it from many angles: from your 80-year-old self to your current self, from your current self to your younger self, from your current self to tomorrow’s self, from your wise self to your suffering self… the possibilities are endless. Just open your heart, and treat yourself the way you treat someone else you love.
- Use mantras: Words are powerful. The right word or phrase has the power to anchor you in tough times and bring you up. When you’re not feeling your best, repeat a powerful self-love phrase that resonates with you, such as “I am worthy of love,” “it’s okay to be imperfect,” “it’s okay to feel,” or “I accept myself just as I am.” Feel free to use one of these or create your own powerful self-love mantra! Write this down somewhere where you can see it regularly.
- Try guided experiential meditations: this is my personal favorite because it allows you to experience the strong, visceral, transformative power of self-love. It goes beyond words or concepts, and you can really feel it in your body. I love meditations so much that I’ve created some of my own for you to benefit from. You can learn how to access them here.