Let’s talk about one of everyone’s favorite topics of discussion, LOVE. Whether we are thinking of it in a general or romantic sense, we can see various forms of love everywhere we go. This can come from friends, treating you to a coffee or tea. From parents, supporting and encouraging you to pursue your goals. Or from partners, when they do something especially thoughtful for you during a stressful time of life. Most of us love the feeling of being loved. After all, it is an emotion that can move us, inspire us, and bring joy to our lives. It is something that many of us yearn for, a deep and lasting connection with another person or a group of people that makes us feel seen, heard, and understood.
As flattering as it may be to be loved by many, there is another form of love that is underrated but equally important. That is self-love.
Self-love is appreciating yourself and caring for your physical, psychological, and spiritual health. When you practice self-love, you prioritize your well-being and happiness and hold yourself in high regard. Self-love can mean something different for every person, but ultimately it allows us to feel happy and accept ourselves for who we truly are.
That being said however, we often find it difficult to practice self-love. Not because we don’t want to, but because many of us have internalized negative personal beliefs that have accumulated and gotten the better of us over the years. We may have been told that we’re not good, smart, or attractive enough, and this can lead to self-doubt and self-criticism.
As a result, we tend to be especially critical of ourselves and think we must do better. We struggle to find the same compassion and acceptance for ourselves that we freely give to others. These factors can make it challenging for us to practice self-love.
In this article, we will talk about how we can truly embrace our flaws and strengths, practice gentleness and self-compassion, and learn the best methods for self-love.
Self-love is a complex concept that can be broken down into four key components.
- Self-esteem is evaluating ourselves in relation to others without feeling superior or inferior. It is being comfortable with who we are, what we have, and where we are in our life.
- Self-awareness means understanding our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It involves being attuned to our needs and realizing how our actions and choices affect our well-being.
- Self-worth is the belief that we are valuable and worthy regardless of our accomplishments and external validation.
- Self-care involves caring for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs to promote well-being.
Taken together, these components form the foundation of a healthy and nourishing relationship with ourselves.
Self-love is not to be confused with narcissism. While narcissism involves an excessive focus on oneself and a lack of concern for others, self-love is recognizing one’s inherent worth and caring for oneself to promote personal growth and well-being. In fact, cultivating high levels of self-love is associated with a range of positive outcomes, such as improved mental health, increased resilience, and more fulfilling relationships.
Self-Love and Compassion
Self-love and self-compassion are related but distinct concepts essential to mental and emotional well-being. While self-love is about accepting and valuing yourself, self-compassion is about responding to your mistakes with kindness and empathy.
Although the two are often used interchangeably, self-compassion is a specific kind of self-love that involves treating yourself as you would a close friend. When practicing healthy self-compassion, we recognize that failure and pain are a normal part of the human experience and respond to ourselves with warmth and understanding rather than self-criticism and judgment. Doing so can create a positive and supportive relationship with ourselves that can help us cope with life’s challenges and build resilience in the face of adversity.
Self-compassion can be broken down into three main components:
- Self-kindness involves understanding and supporting yourself rather than criticizing yourself when you make a mistake or flaw.
- Common humanity means recognizing that we’re not alone and others have similar experiences.
- Mindfulness is the practice of being present at the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings.
Self-compassion has been studied extensively in recent years, and research has shown that it can positively impact mental health and well-being. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in the field of self-compassion, has found that people who practice self-compassion are less likely to develop anxiety and depression, allowing them to experience a more joyful life. One reason is that self-compassion can act as a buffer between us and common issues in depression, such as self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification.
Key Benefits of Practicing Self-love
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Self-love can help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to accept yourself without fear of rejection. Trivial problems or minor failures that impact your mental health may become less important as you develop a stronger sense of self-worth.
- Enhance your emotional resilience: Negative self-talk can make matters worse and amplify feelings of self-blame, but self-love can help counter those thoughts and bring a more positive perspective. Even if your difficulties are caused by your own mistakes, self-love can help you learn from them and move forward with greater resilience.
- A healthy lifestyle: Self-love encourages a healthy lifestyle by inspiring regular exercise, proper sleep, and a healthy diet. It also promotes spending time with yourself, enjoying your own company, and practicing mindfulness.
- Have a higher level of satisfaction: Practicing self-love enhances our self-appreciation and alters our perspective of the world. We become more capable of deriving true happiness from the things that matter in life, such as the love of our family, personal achievements, or acts of kindness. As a result, fleeting pleasures hold less influence over our minds.
- Confidence Boost: When practicing self-love, one of the first changes we may notice is a boost in our confidence. This newfound confidence helps remove mental barriers that may have prevented us from effectively communicating with others or expressing ourselves in the past. As a result, we can become visibly more joyful to those around us.
How to Practice Self-Love
Compliment Yourself: One way to boost self-confidence and self-love is to compliment yourself. It may seem like a small act, but over time, it can profoundly affect how you view yourself. When you compliment yourself, you are essentially training your mind to focus on the positives, which can lead to more positive feelings.
Even if you feel like there is nothing to compliment about yourself, there is always something worthy of praise. Maybe you took care of yourself by getting enough sleep or eating a healthy meal, or you managed to complete a task you’ve been putting off. By acknowledging even the smallest accomplishments, you show yourself that you are capable and worthy of self-love. If you want to take an extra step, write these things down on little post-its and place them in visible areas. This will serve as a gentle reminder of how wonderful you are.
Make room for mistakes: Making mistakes is an inevitable part of life. Yet, many people place immense pressure on themselves to avoid errors or failures. This self-imposed pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. The reality is that no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes.
By allowing yourself to make mistakes, you’re giving yourself permission to learn and grow. Making mistakes can be an opportunity for self-improvement, learning, and development. Instead of viewing mistakes as failures, see them as valuable lessons that can help you in the future.
Set healthy boundaries: Setting boundaries involves recognizing and asserting your needs and limits to create a healthy and balanced life. You communicate to others that you respect yourself and your time and create a safe space to thrive. This could mean saying ‘no’ to tasks you don’t have the time or energy for, or limiting your time with people who drain your energy. Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you’re being selfish or mean. It means you’re taking care of yourself and creating healthy relationships.
Prioritizing your overall well-being: This means recognizing the connection between physical and mental health and taking intentional steps to care for yourself in both areas. When prioritizing your well-being, you show yourself love and care, ultimately influencing your mental and emotional state. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, spending time to value yourself and get the support you need is important. This might involve visiting a therapist, choosing online therapy, or working with a rREST coach. You can lead a happier, more fulfilling life by prioritizing your well-being and mental health.
Self-love is not a destination that can be reached in a moment but rather a continuous journey that requires daily commitment and effort. It is a process of growth and self-discovery that involves cultivating a positive relationship with oneself. It can be challenging sometimes, but the rewards are more than worth it.
If you are ready to take the next step in your personal growth journey, we encourage you to consider working with a rREST coach. With hundreds of hours of training utilizing a technique that specializes in meeting you exactly where you are at, a rREST coach can help you overcome the challenges that keep you feeling stuck. Experience rREST Today.