With the heightened awareness of mental health, self-love has become an essential tool for healing.
Self-love is a commitment. Think of self-love as a relationship with yourself. And, like any relationship, it needs work to keep it going.
But what is self-love? How is self-love important? And how do we practise self-love? Hopefully, we’re able to answer these questions for you in this post.
Self-love isn’t a narcissistic love for yourself; that’s vanity. Instead, self-love is about accepting and valuing who you are. It’s about knowing your worth and not selling yourself short.
While the term self-love suggests some level of narcissism, it’s actually the opposite. Self-love requires us to accept who we are, and therefore project that love and acceptance onto others.
Some examples of what self-love might mean to you could include:
- Having a positive image of yourself.
- Valuing your strengths.
- Being honest about your weaknesses and having the strength to work on self-improvement.
- Choosing a partner who values who you are and treats you with dignity and respect.
- Choosing to associate with people who share your values and treat you with love and care (and you treat them the same way).
- Prioritising your well-being.
- Taking time to work on personal growth.
Why Self-Love is Important
Without self-love, we develop low self-esteem and low self-respect. We’re willing to take whatever we can get to validate ourselves, often in all the wrong places. Low self-respect leads to bad relationships, eating disorders, bad drinking habits, and other negative social issues.
Now that you have a better understanding of self-love, let’s look at some self-love exercises you can do at home.
The idea of these self-love activities is that this is time for yourself. You’re allowed to be a little selfish. If you have kids, ask your partner for 1 hour where you can take the time to be alone with yourself and practice the self-love exercise that best suits your needs.
Like anything in life, the benefits of self-love exercises will only come from repetition and consistency. Daily practice is the most effective way to develop self-love and a positive self-image.
Self-love meditation is a fantastic place to start. This exercise could form part of our morning meditation to instil confidence as you start your day.
You can practice self-love meditation sitting or lying down, whichever makes you feel most comfortable. This simple meditation incorporates a self-love mantra to help manifest confidence and positivity.
A simple self-love mantra might be:
- Inhale, I am worthy
- Exhale, I am enough
Here is a quick self-love meditation you can practice. Allow for a minimum of 5 minutes to complete this meditation. Remember to choose your self-love mantra before you start.
- Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and start with a big inhale and exhale.
- As you exhale, return to a normal breath, noticing your current state of mind.
- After a few regular breaths to calm the mind, start reciting your mantra. As you inhale, I am worthy. On the exhale, I am enough.
- If you can, try to say the mantra out loud. Hearing yourself say the words can be very effective.
If you usually meditate for longer, start with a 5-minute self-love meditation and then go into your regular mediation routine.
If you prefer a guided self-love meditation, here is an excellent 15-minute exercise.
A self-love affirmation is another powerful way to develop a confident and positive mindset. Many leading life coaches, including Tony Robbins, recommend affirmations as a way to manifest your goals and desires.
Affirmations could form part of your morning or evening routine, but you could have a weekly self-love affirmation that you repeat throughout the day, even if it’s just a reminder to yourself while you’re working at your desk.
Here are 30 affirmations of self-love:
- I am worthy of love.
- I respect my own boundaries.
- I love the person/man/woman that I am.
- I am loved.
- I am deserving of love.
- I am worthy of infinite compassion.
- Happiness flows from within me.
- I let go of negative self-talk.
- I am capable of reaching my goals.
- I accept myself unconditionally.
- I don’t let fear hold me back.
- I am grateful for who I am.
- I am strong and resilient.
- My capacity for love is infinite.
- I forgive myself and learn from my mistakes.
- I am valued.
- I am open to receive love.
- I am exactly who I need to be in this moment.
- I send love to my fears and doubts.
- I believe in myself.
- I deserve dignity and respect.
- I release any need for suffering.
- My life is filled with love and joy.
- I release negativity and embrace optimism and positivity.
- I feel pride in myself.
- I am not the sum of my mistakes.
- I feel beautiful. I am beautiful.
- I overflow with creativity and good ideas.
- I love and treasure my body.
- Every part of my body radiates beauty.
Journaling for self-love is one of the most powerful exercises you can do for yourself. Your self-love journal is an opportunity to reflect on your daily wins and list the reasons why you’re grateful.
Here are 10 self-love journal ideas:
- Write about someone you are grateful for and how you think they would describe you. (allow yourself to be a little playful with this one).
- What is your favourite thing about your personality?
- Write down 5 things you’re grateful for today.
- What are 5 things you do that make you unhappy, and what can you do to stop doing them.
- When do you feel most confident, and what are ways to carry that confidence into other aspects of your life?
- What is something you need to forgive yourself for?
- What traits do you admire in someone close to you, and how can you learn to develop those traits yourself?
- What negative beliefs do you hold about yourself, and what actions can you take to manifest positivity?
- What is one thing you have the power to change to become more confident?
- What are your biggest insecurities? And what actions can you take to reduce those insecurities in line with your values?
Once you’ve developed a self-love routine, you’ll want to carry these ideas into all aspects of your life. Here are some practical self-love tips you can use to build a positive self-image.
Diet plays a crucial role in our health and well being. According to the NHS, “Making healthy choices about your diet can make you feel emotionally stronger. You’re doing something positive for yourself, which lifts your self-esteem.“
As part of a self-love journal entry, write down your weekly eating habits and look at ways to improve your diet. We’re not suggesting you go on a diet but instead giving yourself the nutrition you deserve.
The NHS has excellent nutritional resources as part of its Eatwell campaign. If you have the financial resources, consider setting up an appointment with a nutritionist to develop an eating plan to suit your lifestyle.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries and learning to say no is an essential step to developing self-love. You need to set limits or avoid any work, relationships, or activities that cause stress, physical or emotional harm.
Sometimes, it’s hard to eradicate these activities or relationships, but you must be honest about your limitations and set healthy boundaries.
For example, you shouldn’t have to make yourself available to answer work emails or calls late in the evening. Or have to listen to a friend’s problems when you’ve committed to spending quality time with your family.
Know your worth and define your boundaries.
End Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships can affect our self-image negatively. People who don’t treat you with dignity and respect don’t deserve your time. If you feel that someone doesn’t treat you the way you should be, perhaps it’s time to remove that person from your life.
If you love that person, give them a chance and be honest about how they make you feel. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to salvage the relationship. For example, there might be something they tease you about, or you know that they talk about you behind your back.
Confront this person about the issue. Tell them that what they do harms your self-image, and if they don’t change, sadly, you will have to limit or remove them from your life.
As social beings, removing someone from your life can be extremely difficult, but it might be necessary for positive self-development.
We all make mistakes in life. Sometimes is hard to let go, especially if it’s something that’s hurt ourselves or a loved one. Continually punishing yourself is not going to help fix the past and will negatively affect your self-image.
We’re human, and we make mistakes. The fact that you show remorse for your actions is a good thing.
As part of a journaling exercise, write about your failure or mistake.
- What did you do wrong?
- How did you make yourself or others feel?
- What have you learned from the experience?
- What can you do to avoid making the same mistake?
- How are you different from the person who made that mistake?
Writing about your mistakes and failures allows you to put things into perspective and recognise these events don’t reflect who you are.
Be Kind to Others
Part of self-love is loving others. If you want people to accept who you are, you must be willing to do the same.
For example, do you have a friend or relative that you know is alone? Find some time to give them a call. Ask how they are and what’s going on in their life.
These small gestures allow you to build a positive self-image. When you repeat the affirmations, I am worthy of infinite compassion, or my capacity for love is infinite, you know those statements are the truth.
We hope that from reading this, you realise that self-love is not about loving yourself. It’s about acceptance. Not just acceptance of who you are but others too.
Self-love is a process; it’s not the goal. It’s something you need to work on daily to develop a positive self-image.
Self-love is about knowing your worth, which isn’t a selfish endeavour. Self-love becomes selfish when someone starts to believe they’re better than others.
Self-love is about developing a positive mindset and positive self-image. By working on healthy self-love goals, you can change your life for the better.
Self-love can fall prey to narcissism. If you start to believe you’re better than other people or pursue goals at the expense of others, then you’re not practicing self-love but narcissism.