Sound familiar? Even if you haven’t read a single self-help book, or been in therapy, you’re bound to have come across at least one of these timeless pearls of wisdom on Instagram or Facebook. Maybe something with a pink watercolor background, or two hands forming a heart? While they may true enough, to those of us experiencing fear and self-loathing, they may as well be written in a foreign language!
“But how do I love myself?” I asked. It was a burning question for me. After years of being married to a narcissist, my self-esteem and sense of self were down to less than zero. “No one who really knows you will ever love you,” he had told me. It felt like a curse. All of the gurus, coaches, healers, books, and movies insisted that, first and foremost, I had to love myself. None of them had bothered to mention how I was to accomplish this. I mean, going around saying “I love me! I love everything about me! I want to eat me!” à la Steve Martin, wasn’t going to make it so.
The answer came, not from my teacher, but from one of my fellow students. “Treat yourself as you would treat a person you are in love with,” she whispered to me. I was still uncertain. “Start with your body,” she said. “Treat your body like someone you love. Start small. Maybe buy a really nice moisturizer and use it every day. Start there. Little by little, the way to love will come back to you.” And so I bought some lovely bergamot scented body butter and I went to work. She was right. Through this seemingly insignificant act of self-care, I began, slowly but surely, to love myself again.
I’ve picked up a lot more tricks over the years, so I’m going to share a few of them with you.
20 Ways To Re-Kindle Your Self-Love
1. Pamper your body.
Take bubble baths, use lovely smelling shower gels, use essential oils, and moisturizers. Wear perfume you really love and every time you smell your wrist, you will smile and think “I love that smell,” and your body will feel loved. Brush your teeth, wash your face, put on a little make-up if you need to, and fix your hair. Always leave your house looking nice – you never know who you might run into. 😉
2. Spend time alone.
If you don’t love yourself, you probably don’t know who you are anymore. Stop ignoring yourself! You can meditate, go for walks, take yourself to a museum or out to lunch – whatever floats your boat. Sitting on the couch all day bingeing Netflix DOES NOT COUNT.
3. Spend more time with people who truly love you.
“I am loved, therefore I am lovable.” Soak it up and love them right back. If you’re all alone at the moment, pets are excellent company and a healing source of unconditional love.
4. Let go of people who bring you down.
You know who they are. The ones who put you down, are jealous of your gifts and accomplishments, sabotage you, use you, take advantage of you, pull you into their stress and dramas, and drain your energy. Either drop them like hot potatoes, slowly phase them out, or keep contact to the bare minimum if you’re stuck with them. Do it. Do it now!
5. Make a list of your accomplishments.
Write down the things you are proud of and continue to add to this list for the rest of your life. Take out this “success journal” and read it whenever you’re feeling worthless.
6. Make a list of the things that are great and special about you.
You may feel shy about doing this – we’re taught to be modest. But someone needs to sing your praises and no one knows as much about you as you do! So write it down. Write it ALL down. You have a nice smile, you’re good at math, you’re kind, you bake great chocolate chip cookies, you can draw, animals love you – anything and everything goes. You’ll be surprised at how long your list can get!
7. Tell your inner critic to put a sock in it!
Seriously. Negative self-talk only brings you down, makes you feel hopeless, useless, and depressed. The next time you catch yourself beating yourself up, ask yourself if you would treat someone else that way. No? Then cut it out!
8. Forgive yourself.
We all have regrets and things we feel ashamed of – no one is perfect. We all do the best that we can, given our current circumstances. Look back at these situations, maybe write them down, ask yourself what you learned, be grateful for that and let the rest go.
9. Forgive others and let bygones be bygones.
You may wonder what this has to do with loving yourself, but hear me out. Right now you’ve probably got a bunch of anger and resentment bottled up inside of you. It’s toxic, it’s clouding your judgement, affecting your life choices, and cheating you of happiness. It needs to go! Besides, forgiving people makes you feel like a good person, a lovable person…
10. Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with somebody else’s highlight reel.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Most of us like to show our best side, particularly in the media. While it’s tempting to think they are all doing it better than you are, this will only make you feel depressed, not good enough, and doomed to failure. This feeling is not conducive to self-love. So stop judging yourself, do your own thing, and remember that even supermodels look less-than-super without their make-up.
11. Treat yourself.
Do something fun, sleep in, have a piece of chocolate cake, buy yourself something on a whim. Perhaps there was someone who spoiled you once in a while when you were a child – a grandparent or an auntie? Remember how great that made you feel? The good news is that you can make yourself feel this way, so what are you waiting for?
12. Exercise regularly.
Moving and staying fit will help you feel and look great. Find a sport you enjoy, make it a part of your social life. It’s a lot easier to get in shape when you’re having fun. Alternatively, take a short walk every morning to raise your energy, your metabolism, and your mood. Feeling good in your body will make loving yourself a no-brainer.
13. Eat well.
Start with a detox. My first detox led to feeling energized, healthy, beautiful, and lovable. Feeling fabulous led to a complete transformation of my life and a feeling of joy and empowerment that I want to share with everyone. I know it’s an old saying, but you really are what you eat. Love your body. Love yourself. Love your life!
14. Get enough sleep.
I know it can be hard. You work all day and you want to feel like you’ve had some fun as well before you have to go to bed and get up in the morning, and start all over again. You want to watch one more episode of your favorite Netflix show, you want to read one more chapter of that thriller, or you want to finish the first draft of your blog. Whatever it is, I’m sure it feels important to you. But consider that being sleep deprived makes you less productive, impairs your thinking, and makes you feel miserable. How can you expect to feel happy and in love with yourself and your life when you just want to crawl under the covers every time your alarm goes off in the morning? Listen to your mother – go to bed!
15. Make sure you have enough down time.
There are times in your life when you forget to take breaks, when you feel like you need to be working all day every day in order to succeed, to survive, to feel worthy. One of the best things my first coach taught me was to take a day off every week. After a while, I got so carried away that I even took two days off! Try it and your stress level will drop, your body will feel more rested, and your mind will be full of fresh ideas. Feel the subconscious resentment against your inner slavedriver (YOU) melt away. Nobody loves a slavedriver.
16. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to try.
It can be something large or small. You could even make it a daily practice. This will build up your self-confidence. Self-confidence leads to self-esteem.
17. Find something you enjoy that you’re really good at, and do it often.
As you spend more time having fun, and feeling happy and proud of yourself, you will start to believe that you are worthy of love – even your own.
18. Sing and Dance.
Not only are these super fun, the physical and emotional benefits include increased aerobic exercise, improved breathing, posture, mindset, confidence and self-esteem. Whether you do it alone at home, at a dance club, or a karaoke bar, just one song per day will change your life!
19. Ask for what you need and stop settling.
Never getting what you want and need can leave you feeling unworthy. You can’t always get what you want, but if you don’t ask for it, the answer will always be no. Don’t put yourself in a corner and stop settling for less! Every time you do that, you’re sending a message to yourself that you are unworthy and not worth caring about.
20. Keep a journal.
Writing puts you in touch with your inner voice and helps clear away the clutter in your mind. If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, it can help you gain control your emotions and improve your mental health. Write about the successes you’ve had every day, your hopes and dreams, even ask questions. Can’t think of what to say? Write “I am worthy of love,” 25 times.
And remember: Self-love and self-care are not self-ish!