“I love you.” It might be one of the most common phrases in human interaction. It’s one of the first things that many toddlers hear and learn to say back, and often the last thing couples, family and friends say to each other before parting ways or going to bed at night. And, for all the times you say this to others…. have you ever stopped to think about how often you say it to yourself? How often do you look into the mirror and say “I love you”? Of course, self-love doesn’t necessarily mean talking to yourself out loud, but the idea behind it remains the same. You as a person need to understand that how you love yourself lays the foundation for how you love others and even how others love you in return.
All in all, when you love yourself, you hold the key to living your life in the way that you want to. Human beings are programmed to seek out love from the time they are very young, and by and large they keep doing so throughout their lives. When you place importance on loving yourself first, you allow yourself to accept the love that you seek. When you do not love yourself, you also do not feel worthy of love. You may even subconsciously push it away. To be able to accept the love you seek, and have quality relationships with the people around you, you must learn to love yourself to start with.
At the root of self-love is self-esteem, and it goes hand in hand with self-confidence. It’s important to make a distinction between the two and their similar yet unique definitions. Self-confidence is believing in yourself and that you are capable of achieving the things you want to, and self-esteem is the belief that you are worthy of the respect and love of other people. Building up these two feelings in yourself is the magic key to being able to learn to love yourself as you deserve.
So how do you get started on this road to self-love? Well, for some it may come very easily; for others, not so much.
Since you’re the product of your own unique life experiences, it’s tough to say where you’ll land. One thing is for certain: to learn to love yourself, and build up your self-esteem and self-confidence, you’ll need to put in some work. It may seem daunting, but don’t worry! At the end of the day, the things you’ll be the most proud of are the things you work hard for.
1. Be active. Activity can take many forms, and you want to look for the one that speaks to you. For some people, that might mean starting to exercise and be physically active, which has been proven to be a great stress reliever and mood booster, thanks to those endorphins! For others, it may mean taking up a hobby and spending more time doing something you enjoy or feel passionate about. Others may find that cleaning or organizing their work or living space is the kind of activity that feels the best to them. Whatever you end up choosing, it’s action that’s going to start helping you learn to love yourself by showing you what you’re capable of and building up that self-confidence.
2. Be positive. This might be one of the most difficult ones to master, because most of the time it feels like there’s negativity everywhere. But you know what? You can also choose to surround yourself with positivity, and it’s definitely out there. If you feel like you’re having trouble being a self-starter when it comes to being positive, that’s OK. Try first surrounding yourself with positive people, books, TV programs, quotes, affirmations, social media accounts, podcasts—whatever you’re most likely to pay attention to. At the same time, boot the negative stuff, because you don’t need it in your life! You’re only looking for stuff that’s going to help you love yourself, and thankfully, there’s plenty out there, just waiting for you to find it.
3. Eat well. If you’re going to train your brain to learn to love yourself, you’ve got to fuel it for the task! Making sure to get your diet in order is one of the most important steps you can take on your self-love journey. Why is that? Because the kind of food you eat has a huge impact on your overall mood and energy level. Eating foods high in fat, salt and sugar have been shown to have a negative effect on the way you feel over the long term, and over time can lead to weight gain, depression and adverse health effects. On the flip side, ditching junk food and eating more lean proteins, fruits and vegetables has been shown time after time to have a beneficial effect on mind and body alike.
Plus, the side effects of a healthy diet are plenty, including better health, more energy and even some changes in the overall look of your body, hair and skin.
4. Work through finances. One of the biggest sources of stress in our society today is money. It’s tough to love yourself when you’re full of stress all the time, so your finances are something you should really try to prioritize. You don’t have to win the lotto to handle your money better. First, start by working to get an emergency fund together, so you don’t have to shell out cash from your pocket every time an unexpected expense shows up. Next, look at the money you’re spending every month. Can you cut costs anywhere? Also, make a plan to pay off all your debt, no matter how long it will take you, and try to avoid taking out any more loans or using credit cards if at all possible.
If you have to use your credit cards, and let’s face it – most of us do – try to only spend an amount that you can pay off when the bill comes in at the end of the month. These few steps should have you in a better financial situation before you know it. Remember, a budget is your best friend!
5. Help others. When you see someone doing something good, you probably think to yourself “Wow, what a great person!” And you’re probably right. Good news is you can feel that way about yourself too! All it takes is lending a helping hand. Check out your local shelter, worship center or service organization and ask about volunteer opportunities, but also remember helping another person is as easy as doing a chore for a neighbor or jumping into action when you see someone in need.
6. Learn something. It can be anything—from reading an interesting magazine article on a brand-new topic to learning a new skill, such as an instrument, working with your hands, or speaking a new language.
As your brain grows, so will your heart, and you can learn to love yourself along with whatever else it is you’re learning.
7. Work on body language. Everyone at some point struggles with not liking the way they look in the mirror. But just a few small changes, such as standing up straighter with squared shoulders, holding your chin high, and keeping a smile on your face as much as possible can change the way you start seeing yourself, which in turn makes it easier to love yourself.
8. Give and accept compliments. Set a goal to compliment someone else each day. It doesn’t take much! You can comment on someone’s mood, energy level, or just let them know, “Hey, you’re great to have around.” Their smile will go straight to your heart. While you’re at it, make sure that if you receive a compliment from someone else, you don’t try to deflect it or talk it down. Just say “Thank you!” and believe it. After all, if they see it, why shouldn’t you?
9. Visualize your success. If you want to love yourself more, but you don’t really feel like you’re there yet, close your eyes and imagine yourself where you want to be.
Make it something you do every day, and you’ll soon find yourself working towards that image of yourself without even realizing it.
10. Turn failure around. Often one of the hardest things to accept, failure is actually a great teacher. It’s also an opportunity for you to recognize your own humanity, admit that you’re not perfect, and learn from your mistakes so that you can do better next time. Give yourself grace when you fail and see it for what it can turn into: GROWTH.
Now that you’ve got some structure to how you’re going to learn to love yourself and increase your confidence, let’s give it some gas! Try these techniques to get your plan moving forward right away.
Techniques For Learning To Love Yourself
1. Recite positive affirmations to yourself. It’s scientifically proven that if you hear something over and over again, you’ll start to believe it. So, why not start with phrases and quotes that are sure to help you learn to love yourself? Make it a point to read or recite these sayings out loud to yourself every single day at the same time, so it becomes part of your daily routine.
2. Leave post-it notes EVERYWHERE. That’s right, seeing is also believing. It’s tough to ignore neon-colored reminders when they’re everywhere you look. Write out an item from the list above, as well as some of those positive affirmations, and leave them around your house, your workplace, your vehicle—anywhere that you’re going to see them! Take the time to read each one every time you look their way, and all of a sudden, you’ll realize you’re thinking about ways to love yourself all the time and even starting to feel the love!
3. Keep a list. You can add items you want to get done to your list. Make it a goal to both cross something off your list every day, and then add something new to get done, no matter how small an activity it may be. As time goes on, you’ll see yourself being really productive. Hard not to love yourself when you’re so good at getting stuff done, isn’t it?
4. Answer your thoughts. You can work as your own coach by commenting on the thoughts that come across your mind. If a negative thought pops into your head, counteract it with something positive immediately (you can even have some pre-set answers that you repeat to yourself).
On the other hand, when something positive comes to mind, affirm to yourself that it’s a great idea and that you have the power to make it happen.
5. Stand in front of the mirror every single day and say five things you love about yourself out loud. They can vary day to day or stay the same. The important part is to look yourself in the eye and say them out loud. Extra tip: Smiling while you do it will make it even more successful!
When you dedicate your time and effort to really learn to love yourself, remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. What’s going to get you there is focus, dedication, consistency, understanding and grace. At the end of the road, you can stand back, take a look around and be free to love yourself and feel confident, just as you should.
- What does loving yourself and being confident look like for you?
- What tips from above do you think will help you love yourself and be confident?