Self-love is one of the most underrated superpowers that every human being has the ability to harness, but few do.
Thanks to decades of harm caused predominantly by people-shaming in the media, we often find ourselves comparing our flaws to other people’s strengths, resulting in a feeling of unworthiness and a lack of self-love.
Being that you are with yourself 24/7, you deserve to be happy and love yourself.
But as with most of the best things in life, it’s easier said than done. You might think some people are just born with the ability to love themselves or are successful enough to be “allowed” to love themselves.
The truth is, developing self-love is like creating a muscle. It requires hard work and repetition to grow stronger. But you can do it because you deserve to love yourself.
You might be at a loss of where to start. Luckily, we have a few exercises you can use to start your journey to self-love.
Benefits of self-love
Before looking at the exercises that will help you develop your self-love, why do you even need it?
Learning to self-love will increase your self-confidence, allowing you the freedom to go after the life you’ve always wanted. You will learn that you deserve to give yourself the chance to try new things, with the confidence that you are strong enough to cope with it no matter the outcome.
Life will become an exciting adventure.
So, let’s start taking the first steps towards learning to self-love.
Eight Steps to Self-Love
1. Practice gratitude daily
Stress can cause the negative events in your life to feel prominent and never-ending.
If you are going through a tough time full of stress, you may reach a point where you internalise the situation and start to believe it is all your fault. In turn, this can lead to you resenting yourself and feeling unworthy of love.
To combat this, take five minutes every day to make a list of all the things you are grateful for. In doing this, you remind yourself that you have positiveness in your life.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Even if you feel like you have nothing to be thankful for, really dig deep. Even the most minor acts can make us grateful. Like drinking a nice cup of coffee or having a thick jumper that keeps us warm in the cold.
Learning to be thankful allows you to see and focus on the positive. And eventually, this positivity will help you love yourself and feel worthy of what you have in your life.
2. Mirror healing and mantras
When you lack self-love, looking in the mirror can be one of the hardest things to do. You look at your reflection and see only the attributes that you dislike about yourself, making it hard to look at yourself. After all, in front of a mirror, there is no hiding.
Mirror healing will allow you to get comfortable with yourself both externally and internally. Staring back at yourself, you’ll be able to confront the negative thoughts and insecurities you have about yourself and learn that they are part of you and do not make you unlovable.
Adding in mantras will further help as you repeat positive thoughts about yourself daily that eventually become a part of your inner dialogue. These mantras will infiltrate your thoughts throughout the day, allowing your self-love to develop.
Because eventually, your thoughts become beliefs.
Journals are a great way to get to know yourself on a deeper level, and allow you to learn self-love again.
By practising a journaling technique called “flow of subconscious thoughts”, you’ll learn facts about yourself that you never knew. Not only that, but you’ll be able to process and heal the pain that is feeding the belief you are unworthy of love.
This technique is simple. It works by setting a timer or page limit (typically 15 minutes or three pages) and writing whatever comes to your mind.
It might feel awkward at first, and you may be at a loss as to what to write, but as you get used to it, you’ll find your brain will start to focus on thoughts in the background that are bothering you and making you feel unworthy.
4. Learn to forgive yourself
Have you ever done something you regretted? If so, welcome to the human being club: population seven billion.
Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Every. Single. Person.
But it can be challenging to accept the fact that we aren’t perfect, making us our worst critics. In turn, our mistakes can often lead us to believe that we are unworthy of love. That is why it is so essential to redefine failure in our minds.
So, if you have any mistakes that have you losing your love for yourself, remember that you would not have learned the lessons that have brought you where you are today without those mistakes.
And more importantly, forgive yourself for being human, learn the lesson, and move on.
5. Learn the art of “good enough.”
On the topic of perfectionism, giving up the idea that being perfect makes you worthy of love can be very difficult.
Often this starts from a young age. For example, maybe you were always praised by your teacher for being an intelligent student, or your parents put pressure on you to be the best athlete on your sports team.
We carry a lot of baggage from our childhood and life experiences that can sometimes create the falsehood that we are not worthy of loving ourselves unless we do everything perfectly.
This manifests as fear of failure, procrastination, anxiety, poor self-esteem, stress, and burnout in adulthood. That is why it is vital to learn the art of “good enough”.
Allow yourself to make mistakes and remind yourself that your effort is enough and your self-worth does not depend on how well you do on a task.
6. Create and use visual cues
The human brain can only remember so much. And if self-love doesn’t come naturally to you right now, you may struggle to remind yourself to work on it. That is where creating visual cues for yourself can come in handy.
Use post-it notes or make posters to stick around your house with quotes that resonate with you to improve your self-love or pictures that remind you of it.
This way, whenever you go to the fridge or switch a light on, you are reminded how amazing you are and that you deserve to love yourself.
Some of our favourite self-love quotes are:
- Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.
- You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.
- You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
- You are free, you are powerful, you are good, you are love, you have value, you have a purpose. All is well.
- You were born to be real, not to be perfect.
- There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let others get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.
- You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right here.
- Confidence is the ability to feel beautiful, without needing someone to tell you.
- In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.
- Regardless of how anyone else feels about me, I am going to choose to love myself today.
- I am accepting myself unconditionally no matter what.
- You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
- If you’re searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.
- Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.
- Be yourself. An original is so much better than a copy
7. Celebrate Yourself
If you lack self-love, it’s likely you don’t celebrate your achievements. In fact, you have probably read that sentence and said, “yeah, because I don’t have any achievements”. Because that is what a lack of self-love would have you believe.
But it’s simply not true. We all have many things that we can celebrate in our life daily. So, make it a habit to celebrate the little things you achieve.
Did you make a delicious lunch? Congratulate yourself. Did you get through the workday even though you just wanted to lie in bed all day and watch Netflix? That deserves a dance party superstar!
Celebrate all the small wins, and you’ll realise you are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. And in doing so, you’ll find yourself falling more and more in love with yourself!
8. Find your passion
When we try to live a life that doesn’t align with our core beliefs and values, we can feel deflated. We may start to hate ourselves because every day is a struggle.
Maybe circumstances landed you in a job you hate, or you find yourself surrounded by people you dislike. But you are not stuck. Though challenging, there is a way out.
If you allow yourself to discover what you are genuinely passionate about, you open new possibilities.
Small steps towards living a life that aligns with who you are as a person will make you much happier. You’ll stop resenting your life and start loving it. And in loving life, you’ll realise it was you that got you there, and you’ll also learn to love yourself.
Because finally, who you are and the life you live will align in perfect harmony.
Affirmations for Self-love
Affirmations have an incredibly powerful and beneficial effect on our own self-love, and how we build and improve on it. Daily affirmation practice can simply be picking an affirmation card and repeating the short sentence a number of times. They can help build our confidence, increase our own self-worth, and improve our happiness.Picking a self-love affirmation at the start of the day is the perfect reminder of the importance of who we are. Some of our favourite affirmations for self-love are:
- I am surrounded by love.
- I know my worth.
- I am at peace where I am.
- There is nobody quite like me.
- I am unique.
- I love me.
- Today I will be incredible.
- There is no stopping me.
- I accept all of myself.
- I am enough.
- I accept love from myself.
- I am always growing.
- I embrace who I am.
Meditation for Self-love
Another exercise to increase self-love is to meditate. Meditation for self-love is a wonderful way to acknowledge limiting beliefs and thoughts, and to let them pass, while noticing how they do not serve you. There are a number of guided self-love meditations online that can help with a few minutes of your day.
Life gets more exciting when you learn to love yourself for exactly the person you are. But as with most of life’s most rewarding achievements, it takes practice, patience, and dedication. But you are worth the work, so keep at it.
By using a combination of the exercises in this article, you’ll find that every day brings you a step closer to self-love.
Experiment with these ideas and find what works for you. But don’t give up faith because even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you are worthy of loving yourself. Once you start the healing process, you’ll wonder why you ever didn’t love yourself to begin with.