Self-Love 101: How I Fall in Love With Myself

Hey you! I see you, working hard, caring for others, and often putting yourself last. You’re doing great, but what about YOU?

This isn’t just a pep talk, it’s a call to action from me to you. Self-love isn’t about indulgence, it’s about acceptance, respect, and truly honoring yourself. It’s time to stop treating yourself like an afterthought.

Trust me, I’ve been there, and I’ve seen the transformative power of loving yourself can do.

In this self-love 101 guide, I’m going to help you put yourself first. Oh! it’s not selfish my friend, it’s mandatory.

Imagine a life where you embrace your imperfections, set boundaries without guilt, and chase your dreams with unapologetic passion.

That’s what loving yourself can do. Why am I making you do this? It’s because you deserve a life filled with joy, purpose, and fulfillment. Come on! You’ve got this, and I’m here for you every step of the way.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Self-love is about fully accepting who you are, and treating yourself the way you would treat someone you love which is essential for your mental and physical health. It’s not a form of selfishness.
  • Keep in mind that societal pressures can influence your self-love manifestations, but its principles apply universally, regardless of gender or societal expectations.
  • Daily practices of self-love like journaling, setting boundaries, and affirmations can significantly transform your life, enhancing your overall wellbeing.”

What is Self-Love?

Two abstract women facing each other while closing their eyes dreaming away surrounded by green and beige flowers.

Self-love is simply about accepting yourself fully, your flaws, and all while treating yourself with kindness and respect. It means putting yourself through uncomfortable situations so you can grow stronger, stand up for yourself and be smarter.

It has nothing to do with being narcissistic or selfish. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! By practicing self-love, you are nurturing your own growth and well-being, which in turn allows you to extend the same kindness and understanding to others.

I want you to imagine this scenario:

“You’ve just made a huge mistake at work. Instead of berating yourself and wallowing in self-pity, you remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that you have the ability to learn and grow from them.

That, my friend, is an excellent example of self-love in action.

When I start to focus on loving myself and putting myself first, I used to think that I’m being self-centered. But soon, I realized that by valuing my own growth and happiness, I became a better friend, partner, and overall human being.

Tip
Self-love isn’t just about bubble baths and weekend getaways (although those can be great too); it’s about getting used to being uncomfortable and doing what is necessary to make sure that your decisions and actions align with your values.

Why is Self-Love Important?

Illustration, woman mediating sitting on a rock with a mountain and a lake view.

Self-love is important because it’s the foundation of everything in your life, including self-love in relationships. Without self-love, you’re building your life, and your relationships, on shaky ground. I’ve seen it time and time again. When you love yourself, you make choices that honor your needs, your dreams, and your well-being.

You stop settling and start prioritizing your needs. You learn to say no when it’s necessary, without feeling guilty. Embracing self-love doesn’t mean becoming self-centered; rather, it’s about finding inner balance and focusing on your well-being.

Understanding that you can’t give love to others if you neglect yourself, you discover that your love for others flourishes when you genuinely love yourself, independent of any romantic relationship.

Learning how to love yourself without a man is a powerful and transformative journey that allows you to nurture your own happiness and growth before sharing your time and energy with someone else.

When you take care and love yourself, everything else falls into place. It allows you to deepen connections, as you’re more authentic and present with your partners. Your career takes off, and your life just feels more vibrant and fulfilling.

In the realm of relationships, self-love sets a precedent for how others should treat you, and it helps you choose partners who respect and honor your self-worth. It ensures that you engage in relationships that reflect your values, needs, and aspirations.

Trust me, investing in self-love isn’t just important; it’s quintessential to living a life that feels as good on the inside as it looks on the outside. It’s a key component for nurturing meaningful relationships with others and one of the best ways to get rid of self-hate altogether. That’s what you deserve, and I know you can achieve it, both in life and in love.

The Origins of Self-Love and Lack of Self-Love

Understanding where self-love comes from and where the lack of self-love originates, I would say it’s very important in nurturing a healthy relationship with yourself.

Self-love often comes from a deep understanding and acceptance of yourself. It builds on your positive experiences, supportive relationships, and personal growth.

It requires intentional efforts to recognize your worth, love your flaws and most importantly prioritize your mental and physical well-being. It’s a journey of self-discovery, where you learn to value your unique qualities and extend compassion and empathy towards yourself.

The lack of self-love can be traced back to your negative experiences, societal pressures, and internalized criticism. Factors such as your childhood trauma, bullying, unrealistic societal standards, and constant comparison of yourself with others can take away the love you have for yourself.

The absence of supportive relationships and the presence of self-doubt and self-criticism further contribute to your lack of self-love. Overcoming this requires you to challenge your negative thoughts, seek support, and engage in self-care activities.

Four Stages of Self-Love Foundations

An infographic that outlines the four stages of self-love foundations.

Self-love foundations refer to the essential principles and practices that form the basis of how you love yourself. It’s about recognizing and accepting your worth, embracing your imperfections, and taking care of yourself both mentally and physically.

There are four stages in this foundation, they are

  • Your inner voice: That voice inside that’s uniquely yours? It’s time to listen to it. Pause and tune into your needs, desires, strengths, and even weaknesses. See yourself without judgment.
  • Accepting who you are: Own it—all of it. Your quirks, your flaws, your magic. Embrace your imperfections; they’re your superpower. It’s not about ignoring your flaws; it’s about seeing them as part of your unique landscape. That’s self-acceptance, and trust me, it’s freeing.
  • Prioritize your mental and physical well-being: Fuel yourself with nourishment, not indulgence. Eating well, setting boundaries, taking time to rest, it’s all part of YOU at your best.
  • Treat yourself with empathy and compassion: Extend grace to yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness, empathy, and understanding you’d offer a dear friend. Understand that you’re human too, and that’s not just okay; it’s beautiful.

Examples of Self-Love

Beautiful women closing her eyes with her hair flowing surrounded in red background and white flowers.

Here’s how it might show up in your life, and I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these actions:

  • Taking Care of Your Body: Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep. Your body is your vessel, and self-love means treating it with respect. It’s about loving yourself enough to nourish your body in the ways it needs.
  • Forgiving Yourself: We all make mistakes. Self-love is about forgiving yourself, learning from the experience, and moving forward. It’s about treating yourself with compassion rather than judgment.
  • Pursuing What Makes You Happy: This is about following your passions, your dreams, and what makes you feel alive. Self-love means giving yourself permission to pursue what you love without fear of judgment or failure.
  • Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: This might sound counterintuitive, but self-love often means stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s about embracing the discomfort of growth, challenge, and change. Real growth happens when you push yourself beyond what’s comfortable. Whether it’s trying something new, speaking your truth, or taking a risk, being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a profound act of self-love.
  • Stand Up For Yourself: Loving yourself isn’t just about feeling good; it’s about acting in alignment with your self-respect. Standing up for yourself is an empowering act of self-love. It means speaking your truth, even when it’s difficult. It means demanding respect in your relationships, your workplace, and any area of your life where you might feel overlooked or undervalued. I know it’s not always easy, but it’s a step that can transform how you see yourself and how others see you. Standing up for yourself is about saying, “I know my worth, and I won’t accept less.”.

Why We’re Facing a Self-Love Crisis According to Study?

An infographic that outlines self-love crisis: key findings according to study.

The study done by The Body Shop’s global self-love index indicates a worrying new trend on why there is a decrease in self-love globally.

Below are what the study found:

  • 50% of women worldwide feel more self-doubt than self-love.
  • The top 3 causes of low confidence among women in the US are financial status (31%), feeling that they are not making progress towards the things they want in life (23%), and the state of the world (e.g. politics, climate change, etc.) (20%).
  • The study found that women who practice self-love are more likely to have higher levels of confidence, happiness, and overall well-being. So, learning how to love yourself and be confident will keep you away from being anxious and depressed.
  • The study suggests that society needs to shift its focus from external validation to internal validation and self-love in order to improve the confidence and well-being of women worldwide.
  • The study found that women in India (61%) and China (58%) are the most likely to feel more self-doubt than self-love, while women in the UK (37%) and Australia (38%) are the least likely.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on women’s self-love and confidence, with 56% of women reporting that the pandemic has negatively affected their self-love.
  • The study found a strong connection between self-love and mental health. Women who feel more self-love are more likely to prioritize their mental health and well-being.
  • The top 3 ways that women worldwide practice self-love are spending time alone (48%), spending time with loved ones (43%), and taking care of their physical health (42%).
  • The study suggests that self-love is not just important for individual women, but also for society as a whole, as it can help to reduce gender inequality and promote greater well-being and happiness for everyone.

Common Obstacles to Self-Love and How to Overcome Them?

a woman in afro holding her hands to her head in despair.

In our quest for self-love, we often face various obstacles that hinder our progress.

Below are my simple steps to overcome the six common hurdles in your journey to self-love while adding a touch of humor to lighten the mood.

  • Afraid to Fail? Embrace it! Failure’s not a monster; it’s a teacher. Laugh at it, learn from it, and remember, perfection is overrated.
  • Valuing Others’ Opinions Too Much? Stop treating them like gold. Chuckle at the absurdity and keep this in mind, you’re the star of your own show.
  • Comparing Yourself to Others? Cut it out! Your journey’s unique, and comparing yourself to others is like comparing apples to oranges. Even the tortoise beat the hare, so keep moving at your pace.
  • Can’t Let Go of the Past? The past is a pesky devil, but it doesn’t define you. Find humor in it, grow from it, and look forward to the future with a smile.
  • Feeling Guilty or Ashamed? Unload that baggage with a hearty laugh. Share your stories, find the lessons, and move on.
  • Inner Critic Getting You Down? Turn that grouchy jerk into a sitcom character. Deflate their negativity with wit and enjoy their goofy company.
Tip
Try your best to always find humor in both the ups and downs, and embrace your beautifully imperfect self.

Different Ways to Love Yourself

Illustration, woman in pony tail in beige background, holding red tea cup.

There are different ways you can learn how to love yourself. And no! It’s not just about bubble baths and chocolates, it’s about embracing who you are, flaws and all.

Below are some of my favorite strategies on how to practice self-love and transform the way you look at life one day at a time.

  • Start a daily self-love journaling, it’s one of the ways I keep myself sane, avoid overthinking and keep self-doubt away from my life.
  • Believe that you are enough, repeat after me: “I am enough!” Write it on a sticky note and put it on your mirror – trust me, it works.
  • Write yourself self-love letters: Grab a pen, my friend! By writing love letters to yourself, you say to yourself that you matter too and this help to celebrate YOU. It’s your chance to cheer for your daily, weekly, or monthly wins.
  • Nourish your body and mind with a healthy diet, packed with fruits, veggies, and all the good stuff.
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week. You don’t need to be a gym rat to love your body. Just get moving!
  • Have strong boundaries and stick with them, they are like bug spray, but for people who drain your energy.
  • Replace negative self-talk with positive self-love affirmations, and get rid of your inner critic!
  • Let go of your past and forgive those who have wronged you. I wasted two years holding on to that bullshit when I should have been enjoying my life. So, don’t be me!
  • Celebrate your small wins every time you accomplish them.
  • Think about how you feel before putting others first. You know what they say: put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.
  • Create a strong and reliable supporting system. Surround yourself with people who lift you higher.
  • Learn how to spend time alone with yourself every day! When you’re alone, you have the space to truly tune in and listen to yourself. It’s your chance to step away from the noise, the demands, and the expectations of the world and just be with YOU.

Self-Love For Men vs. Women

Illustration of woman and man laughing in multi coloured background.

You’re a dynamo, and understanding self-love is key to harnessing your power. Let’s break down the societal constructs around self-love for men and self-love for women, and redefine them on our terms.

Self-love for men is often tied to achievements and strength. But, remember, strength isn’t just physical or about your accolades. It’s about acknowledging your feelings, needs, and vulnerabilities. They’re part of you, and embracing them is a testament to your strength. You don’t have to adhere to society’s script. Rewrite your own story of self-love.

On the other hand, loving yourself as a woman, societal voices often focus on appearance and nurturing roles. But self-love goes beyond that. You’re more than how you look or the care you extend to others. Your dreams, desires, and needs count. Honor them as much as you honor others. The narrative of self-love you craft is yours, not what others hand you.

Regardless of your gender, here’s a truth you need to etch into your heart: You deserve your love and respect as much as anyone else. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfishness, it’s a necessity. When you’re fuelled, you can better fuel others.

Identify what makes you feel alive and appreciated, whether it’s a hobby, your loved ones, or a personal goal. They aren’t distractions; they’re part of your self-love toolkit.

If hesitation holds you back, use the 5-4-3-2-1 rule and take that step. Let the countdown propel you toward the self-love you deserve.

Tip
Self-love for men and self-love for women isn’t a cookie-cutter concept. It’s individual, personal, and you have the power to shape it in a way that’s truly you. You’re the master of your self-love story.

Self-Love Resources

I got asked a lot by my friends, family, and clients for recommendations on self-love resources that I find helpful to cultivate a positive and loving relationship with themselves.

Below are resources that I believe you can start with to improve your personal growth, self-acceptance, and overall well-being.

  • Books: There are many authors who have written insightful self-love books and personal growth. These books often offer practical exercises, personal anecdotes, and wisdom to help guide you on your self-love journey.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Professional therapists and counselors can provide personalized support and strategies to help you understand your self-worth and work through your barriers to loving yourself.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation Apps: Mindfulness and meditation apps can be powerful tools for self-love. Many apps guide you through practices that promote your self-awareness, compassion, and inner peace.
  • Support Groups and Communities: Finding a community of like-minded individuals can be incredibly validating. Support groups and online forums provide a space for sharing your experiences, encouragement, and empathy.

You’re the Star of Your Own Show, and It’s Time to Shine!

Loving yourself should indeed come first before anything else.

As someone who struggled with self-love for years, I can tell you that the journey is transformative.

It’s humorous how often we overlook ourselves, expecting others’ love to fill the void.

Take it from me; self-love is the secret ingredient to a fulfilling and happy life.

Remember, you must be your own best friend, advocate, and supporter. Only then can you share the boundless love within you with the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if you truly love yourself?

You know when you truly love yourself when you feel comfortable in your own skin, prioritize your own needs, and treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

Can self-love be learned?

Yes, self-love can be learned through practicing self-care, setting boundaries, and challenging negative self-talk.

Is self-love selfish?

No, self-love is not selfish. It is necessary for one’s mental and emotional well-being and can lead to healthier relationships with others.

What are some signs of a lack of self-love?

Some of the signs of lacking self-love are negative self-talk, self-neglect, seeking validation from others, and self-sabotage.

How can you overcome a lack of self-love?

To overcome a lack of self-love, start with challenge negative thoughts, practicing self-compassion, seeking support from loved ones, and engaging in self-care activities.

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