It’s hard to practice self-love when you don’t truly love yourself. Many of us look for ways to change who we are or what we look like. We constantly say to ourselves that we are not good enough. Instead of looking at what we already have and already are, we fill our heads with thoughts of doubt. I am not skinny enough, I need to change my diet. My hair is not long enough so I must need supplements to help it grow. My skin is not clear enough; what am I doing wrong? This thought process of doubt and fear does nothing good for us. It brings us down and has us searching for the “answer” outside of ourselves instead of appreciating all we are right here and now. Before any changes occur, we must first learn to love ourselves. The rest will follow.
For example: I have always had acne-prone skin. It was something that really got the best of me. It took me from being an out-going person, to being introverted and isolating myself. Going out with friends seemed like a burden, and I constantly worried about what others thought of me. I was definitely not loving myself at the time, but it was hard to! Nothing seemed to help it go away, and it seemed to persist for so long and affected my every thought and decision.
After years of struggling with adult acne, there was a turning point in my life. I started to work on growing myself as a whole instead of focusing on one thing to fix. I was no longer staring at the reflexion in the mirror, and instead made meditation and self-care a daily habit. Once I got to that point of acceptance for myself, it was only a matter of months until my skin cleared up.
But I think because I was focused on fixing and changing myself for so long, it became a natural habit to continue doing that. When my skin started to heal, I was right on to the next thing to complain about and try to fix. In my case it was my weight, but for you it could be anything. We get stuck in this repetitive motion of trying to fix, to change, to get away from whatever uncomfortable situation we are currently in. We forget that we can instead appreciate and love who and where we are just at that moment without fixing or changing anything.
I have learned that the challenges in life come as lessons to teach us something. They will not go away until we are able to learn what they have to offer. Once we can accept these challenges as opportunities to grow, we can appreciate what they have to offer, and we can learn to love ourselves in the process. No matter where we are in the road, let’s practice to love everything about it in that moment.
So what things can we do to eliminate our sabotaging thoughts and actively encourage self-love instead? Changing years of conditioning and thought patterns is not easy, but it is possible. Here are some simple things you can do that will actively encourage self-love. Things that I am working on incorporating as much as possible into my days. And if you miss some or just forget, that’s okay too. No matter what, let’s be grateful for the moment.
Start your day with positive affirmations
When you wake up, after you have gone to the bathroom and drank some water, practice sitting with yourself and saying affirmations. These can be whatever you would like. I am strong. I am successful. I am wealthy. I am beautiful. I am full of energy. I am accepting of the change necessary to jump start my life. Make it as simple or as complicated as you want. This is a great way to bring love into your life first thing in the morning which will set the stage for the rest of your day. This is my most recent addition, and one I am truly enjoying.
Meditate whenever possible
It can be for 2 minutes or 20. The idea is to just sit with yourself and take some deep breaths. Appreciate yourself for where you are and what you have. Practice mindfulness and gratitude and take some deep breaths. This will leave you feeling grateful for what you already have, with no need to search outside yourself for something else. You cannot do this enough throughout the day, so try to incorporate it at least once, and see if you have time for more.
Actively spend time in nature
Get outside of your own head, away from electronic devices, and just be one with nature. Take a walk to just sit out in the grass. Listen to the birds and animals around you. Take a moment to see the beauty in everything, including in yourself being in the moment. I promise you will return feeling lighter and calmer; as nature seems to instantly diffuse a stressful situation.
Exercise in a way you enjoy
Whether you like to go on runs, do yoga in the morning, go on a walk, or just stretch for 10 minutes out of the day, moving your body is one of the best things you can do. You will feel more energized and full of vitality, bringing you only closer to loving your self and body the way it is for what it is able to do.
Eat good quality food
What you eat sets the stage for how you will feel. Eating processed, inflammatory foods, is anything but practicing self-love. When you fill yourself with plenty of vegetables and high quality proteins, you feel it. Respecting your body and giving it the necessary fuel it needs is vitally important in caring for your mind, body, and soul.
Drink plenty of water
This may seem like an obvious one, but there are still many people who do not get enough water. People are walking around dehydrated and cranky without even knowing it. Starting your day with a big glass of water, and continuing to drink plenty in between meals throughout the day is a great way to get your body lubricated and performing fluidly.
Find a hobby you enjoy
Don’t forget to have fun too! This is not supposed to be a list of things you have to do that you stress over if you miss. The idea is to enjoy your daily life. That means carving out time to practice a hobby that ignites your soul. If you get bogged down with work and lists and things you “have to” do, you lose the spark that is necessary for living a vibrant life.
Give yourself a hug once in while
This one is self-explanatory and just feels good to do. Hug yourself, take a deep breath, and let it out. Forgive yourself for the things you aren’t proud of, and be easy on yourself. Change takes time, and it won’t happen until you let go.
I could go on and on about things you can do. And everyone’s lists will be different. The idea is to simply rid your life of the toxic things that are clearly not helping you grow, and actively practice the art of loving your self for who you are, where you are, and how far you’ve come. Don’t ever forget, the fact that you are here is a blessing. Let us acknowledge that, appreciate it, and make the most of it.