10 Steps Towards Self Love
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Let me start by saying that I love Leonardo DiCaprio. Ever since I was 9 years old and saw Titanic for the first time I thought, "that's him, that's the one." I'm now in my thirties and I still feel the same way even though I've never seen him or spoken to him.
You wouldn’t truly be in love with someone without even knowing them. You would be superficially loving them based on an image you created in your mind, based on who you want them to be. It’s like admiring a celebrity until you meet them in person only to realize they’re not exactly what you thought. Suddenly it all becomes real: their awkwardness, their posture, what they do or don't say.
That's automatically how we view ourselves because we see and hear every insecurity, mistake and shortcomings.
Think about any time you’ve been tagged in a photo of yourself from a bad angle. I’m going to guess that you were surprised, disappointed & did everything in your power to untag it immediately or text the person who posted it with some expletives. I mean I’ve definitely done that. (Sorry, mom.)
In the same way we would be disappointed after meeting a celebrity who didn’t match up to what we imagined, we feel let down by ourselves. We want to erase that image from the internet & our mind forever. What if Leo saw it? We start praying that no one saw it because you know what they would be thinking if they did. How do you know? Because you had those thoughts too.
Self-care doesn’t equal self love.
Self-care + self-awareness = self love.
Self-awareness is owning that photo. It’s looking at that photo, feeling those emotions & deciding what you’re going to do about it. Either you can change that image of yourself or you can accept it. Neither option is wrong! By ignoring it and wanting to act like it never happened we create a self image to ourselves and the public that we’re fine the way we are. Hell, we’re not even fine, we’re great! Then next time we have a bad day or another bad photo, we begin to beat ourselves up (the opposite of self love) or we use self-care as a means to get rid of the guilt.
“The downside is that because it’s (self-care) become a buzzword, we’ve also diluted what it really means to take care of yourself,” says Kristin Halley, a clinical psychologist and coach in Hartford, Connecticut. “You need to think differently about what it means to care for yourself and to feel good about who you are. It’s not just the actions - it’s the internal piece.”
Without that self-awareness, that action of change or acceptance of our own self-prescribed flaws, we’re limiting our growth. We're creating a fake perception of ourselves to others, but more importantly ourselves. So next time you're tagged in a photo that's less than stellar, you crumble emotionally again. By following this cycle we're setting ourselves up for negative self talk, less confidence, less self worth and even anxiety and/or depression because each time it happens it adds up. It's as if we're building a wall between ourselves and our happiness.
Society taught us from a young age that being arrogant is unattractive. We should be humble and confident, but not too confident! Then social media taught us we could be well-liked, popular and successful if we post the right things or create a good image of ourselves. Self love is rewiring ourselves to ignore everything we’ve learned and instead be comfortable with who we are then work towards being happy with it while staying open to growth and accepting flaws.
In a previous article I mentioned that having a long term relationship takes work. Think about how hard a long term relationship would be if you were literally with each other 24/7. I mean, in the bathroom, in the shower, sitting next to each other at work or school and doing every single thing at the same time day in and day out for years. How long do you think that relationship would last? At first you’re like, “what do you mean?! I love his/her loud shouting when he’s excited. (S)he’s so passionate!” Then twenty years in, you’re like, “if they shout one more damn time I am pulling out the duct tape!” Now imagine that situation as your relationship with yourself.
Kristin Neff, the pioneer of self-compassion research, describes it as follows:
“Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d show to a good friend. When faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-compassion responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, recognizing that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.” (Neff & Dahm, 2015)
Media and celebrities makes this especially hard as we attempt to keep up with other people who somehow seem perfect or worse, we see what everyone is saying about someone when they show that they aren't perfect. We see this happen on social media, on magazines waiting in line at the grocery store, in news pop-ups on our phones or in our emails. Add to that how anyone with a smart phone or an internet connection can comment anything they want safely from a distance. It's almost as if society is saying, "this is what can happen if you're openly showing mistakes, flaws or insecurities. Is this what you want? Then don't post that!"
But then came movements like body positivity and #SelfCareClub.
Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen who show realistic, honest posts about their body or Amy Schumer who posted a photo of herself days after having a baby in response to the royal family waltzing out of the hospital like an actual stork came down from the sky to deliver it to them.
Shows like Queer Eye came back and gave us the incredible Fab Five.
So, what do we do? How do we get to self love?
Obviously, self-care does come in to play. Psychologists agree that people with high levels of self appreciation do what's needed in order to take care of themselves whether it's regular walks, exercise, healthy nutrition, getting enough sleep or just drinking enough water. By using the necessities of taking care of yourself as self care, your splurges will feel more special.
2. Personal development
Sign up for personal development articles or webinars. Shine Texts are a great way to start. You receive one text a day at your preferred time that walks you through a topic and can direct you to a short article (if you want to continue reading) on something related to your goal, like self care. Click here to take a look.
Get to know yourself so you can recognize stress, anxiety or depression coming on. Knowing the signs and recognizing how you're feeling towards something at the beginning helps you to elude the negative self talk.
3. Boost your confidence:
Do something you're good at. It's hard to deny how incredible you are when you're so damn successful, ya know?
Write a list of qualities that you like about yourself. Then repeat them while looking in the mirror. You would be surprised how powerful (and awkward) this is.
4. Interrupt yourself:
If you do notice you're talking down to yourself, either internally or externally to others, do what one of my BFF's does and imagine yourself giving you a hug. Not only does it disrupt that thought process, but it also is something you would do to a best friend, just like Kristin Neff was talking about above.
5. Set boundaries:
I do this a lot on social media so I can create a feed that supports my mental health. I've written more about this in this article if you want more tips on that. In addition to that, say no without feeling bad. Even if it's without an explanation! Make yourself a priority.
6. Lighten the mood:
Watch something that makes you feel happier or more understand of yourself. Queer eye is a great option, but there's also I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer, Brene Brown's Netflix special or whatever motivates you personally.
7. Self reflect:
Journaling is an incredible way to discover more about yourself. There are a lot of great journal prompts on Pinterest. Click here to see some examples.
Read something inspiring and insightful like one of Rachel Hollis's books (linked above) or something by Brene Brown, like The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Sounds like the perfect title for this topic, doesn't it?
8. Let go:
Go through your closet and pull out anything that is related to a bad memory or doesn't reflect who you want to be. Even better, donate whatever you don't want because that's just another reason why you should love yourself! Not everyone gives back, but we all should!
9. Forgive yourself:
Ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself or let go of something you're holding on to? How many times when you were young did you tell an ex that you'll do whatever it takes for forgiveness... what about you?!
Acknowledge when something makes you feel bad about yourself. Then ask yourself, "is this something I'm willing to accept or not?" Whether it's a friend who makes you feel that way, a coworker you need to set boundaries with, a dress that no longer serves you as the god/goddess you are or that tagged photo.
Shakespeare wrote, "self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting." If Shakespeare wrote it then it must be true.