How To Love Who You Are
Updated February 17, 2020
Reviewer Traci Ball, LLC
For some people, the concept of loving themselves is foreign. Maybe they don't believe they deserve their own love or don't see the point in offering it to themselves. It might feel like a waste of time or downright silly. They view love as something you give and receive to others.
Loving oneself is important. It helps us care for our mind, body and spirit. When we have self-love it changes how we respond to life and drives the decisions we make. Fortunately, self-love is an ever-evolving process. If you have not yet found love for yourself or want to increase the love you already have, there are many things you can try.
Learn About Yourself
It's almost impossible to love yourself without knowing who you are. The process of self-discovery can be lengthy, tiring or fun. It looks different for everybody. People unravel new things about themselves all the time. Our true nature emerges in all sorts of ways including in how we respond to challenges, how we experience our emotions, how we treat others, and how we practice self-respect.
There are endless ways to learn more about you. You can try expressing yourself creatively through art or writing. You can use meditation or self-observation. One effective way to learn more about yourself is by working with a therapist. They are trained to help you see more than meets the eye, especially in terms of your own thinking and attitudes. Once you have a solid understanding of who you are, you can take the next step to develop a loving relationship with yourself.
Find What Makes You Unique (And Why It Matters)
Think of the people you care about most in life. They have qualities that make them unique and some of these qualities you probably love. Maybe your partner has more books than time to read them. Maybe your mother calls every Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. It's the little things about people that make them special. You have things that make you unique too.
Spend some time finding what makes you different from everybody else. It may be a personality quirk, something you are passionate about, a certain way of thinking or a physical feature. Think about why that thing matters to you so much and how you could not be the same person you are without it. When you can come to love the things that make you stand out, you can gain a greater appreciation for your entire self.
Listen For Compliments
If looking inward is hard, try to listen for what others think about you. Be careful with this strategy though. People can be harsh, and we are more inclined to hear the criticisms people make about us before we hear their praises. There will always be someone who disagrees with you or the way you are doing something. Try to filter out those voices in favor of those that are more positive.
Maybe your whole life you've been told you are smart, creative or adventurous. Maybe you've received compliments about your organizational skills or your knack for being able to start a conversation with just about anybody. Everyone has something they are good at, but they often don't see these things themselves. Finding the ways you stand to out to others may help you see how important you are.
Spend Time With Your Accomplishments
In today's world, we're always on the go. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of really good things don't get the attention they deserve. For many people, these good things include their accomplishments and achievements. A job promotion results in a quick celebratory dinner. Even milestones like college graduation get a swift nod and then it's back to work.
Take time to be mindful of your accomplishments. Spend time savoring the moment of victory. Sit with your pride and relief as long as you can, noting the feelings and thoughts that you have. Train your brain to notice these feelings so that you can soak them in when they occur in your day-to-day life. The more you can identify the feeling of satisfaction, the easier it may be to love all you do.
Make Healthy Choices
Loving yourself is not something that only takes place inside the mind or heart. We are not just floating thoughts or emotions. We have bodies that require care too. While we might be able to neglect our mental or emotional health for some time, the body is much less willing to bend.
Follow a healthy diet. Get adequate sleep. Exercise often. These are staples of good health and are so for good reason. Without the proper nutrition, rest and activity levels we make ourselves more vulnerable to disease, stress and burn-out. We can't really say we love ourselves unless we are doing what we can to protect and nurture our wellbeing.
Let Go Of Other People's Opinions
In most cases, this step is easier said than done. Other people's thoughts about us often have big impacts on our lives. They can decide things like whether we're offered a job or whether a romantic interest makes an effort to get to know us. Although other people's opinions are important in some ways, we should be true to ourselves first.
Embracing who you are might drive some people away from you. However, it will likely attract the situations and people who are right for you too. There will always be someone who judges something about you, it's part of the world we live in. Rather than invest your emotional energy in keeping up with their expectations, learn to be gentle with yourself and practice self-acceptance. You may find you love your own opinion more than theirs anyway.
Invest In Yourself
Everyone has dreams for their future. However, not everyone is taking steps to make that future a reality. Sometimes what we want in our lives requires hard things like extra schooling, a change in careers, meeting fitness goals or gaining a new perspective. Without the fundamental first steps, the bigger dream will never come along.
Take some time to think about what you want for your future. Make a plan to bring it to reality. It's okay if your plan stretches over a year, 5-10 years or longer. The important thing is that you are trying to stay true to yourself. As you complete each milestone along the way, you are sure to show yourself that you love you.
Setting boundaries is tough. But, doing so is an easy way to develop love for yourself. Boundaries are the things we do in life to protect our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing from other people. They might include things like choosing not to engage in shouting matches with someone during an argument or not answering the phone for your boss on the weekend. They may include saying no to people who repeatedly ask for your help but who aren't there to help you in return. A physical boundary might look like choosing to shake someone's hand instead of allowing them to hug you. Boundaries can look all sorts of ways and highly depend on the individual.
Try coming up with a few boundaries that you want in your life. Think about the situations that make you feel vulnerable, stressed or out of control. Brainstorm ways that you can lower the chance these situations will happen. Consider what protective measures you can take to avoid them, like in the examples above.
Be prepared for some pushback when you first start setting your boundaries. Others might not be ready for your newfound confidence. However, if you can stand up for what you feel is right and protect yourself along the way, you will undoubtedly have proof that you can show yourself love.
Let Go Of Perfection
Perfection is the drive to do something without any error or flaws. People exercise perfection in different ways in their lives. Some might strive for perfect attendance or grades, a spotless house or the body they want. While it's important to try your best, there is a difference between working hard and working yourself to extremes to make everything just right.
Rather than thinking of the things you do as either failures or successes, try to find the space between. Ask yourself what might go wrong if you don't do everything perfectly. Practice bringing some balance to your thoughts and habits. Slowly work to release your desire to control outcomes.
Creating unrealistic standards ultimately leads to more feelings of failure, because the bar is set so high that no one (including you) can reach it or reach it well. Once you're trapped in this cycle it's hard to see why you should love yourself because it always ends up feeling like you aren't good enough. Work on becoming comfortable with doing something to the best of your ability and not to the best it could possibly be.
Loving who you are is not easy. It's not a skill we're taught as children and it's not one practiced often during adulthood. However, self-love is possible and it's very rewarding. While these tips seem simple on paper, they can take a lot of work. You may find greater success if you partner with a licensed therapist like those available through BetterHelp.com. Reach out to get started on your journey to self-love today.