A quick Google search may lead you to the top tips for figuring out how to love yourself- affirmations, journaling, talking positive, walking, baths, etc… To be honest, at the beginning of my own self-love journey I followed these believing this ‘must’ be the way to finally love my body.
Plot twist: I didn’t love myself any more than I already did following these ‘tips’.
Self-love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.
Self-love is not simple and self-care is not Universal. We all have our unique traits, preferences, circumstances, and journeys that help us create our own path of learning to respect, appreciate, and understand ourselves.
The ‘Real’ Path to Self-Love
No one talks about the real journey of self-love, how it is a rollercoaster of emotions, struggles, but also brighter days where you really do love yourself. Most of us are trying to figure out life and, hopefully, along the way learn to understand ourselves better. What does the path to self-love really look like?
Your Reasons are Relatable
You are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is an important reminder that I hope you always remember. The reasons you want to begin your self-love journey are similar to most.
- “I want to stop disregarding my spouse when they compliment my body. I should be able to accept compliments”
- “I want to be able to smile at my own reflection”
- “I want to feel worthy of promotions, recognition, and opportunity”
- “I want to feel confident naked”
- “I want to no longer allow my emotions to change drastically based on someone else’s opinion or views of me”
These may have been something you’ve thought to yourself, that so many of us have as well. Whatever your reason, it is valid and understood.
You won’t Love Yourself Every Day
Please read this carefully again: “You will not love yourself every day, maybe even like yourself. But you sure as hell better respect yourself no matter what emotions are driving your actions at that moment”. Any self-love ‘guru’, ‘influencer’, ‘author’, that states that they love themselves every.single.day is lying.
Learning to be uncomfortable in the journey will set you apart from the rest on this lifelong path. You are no longer focused on the ‘end result’, but rather taking it one day at a time doing your best with what you have. There will be days where self-care is not an option, which is completely okay. You don’t have to love yourself every day, but I hope you keep striving to use respectful words and actions towards your body as you would a friend.
No Judgement, No Criticism
When your friend is being honest with you, they tell you these things because they know they can trust you. You are there to listen, without judging them or criticizing their actions/thoughts. You are caring and truly appreciate them for trusting you.
Why can’t this be the same relationship you have with yourself? Because you’re not allowing it. When you mess up, open up the dialogue to find out what went wrong- rather than focusing on the negative parts and living in self-pity. When you feel down, don’t ask yourself ‘why do you always feel this way’ or ‘there’s no help for me’. Instead, try asking yourself the important questions that are offer empathy: ‘what can I do to help myself at this moment’, ‘what moment, action, event, changed my mood…how can I help myself in these moments to avoid it from happening again’. The words you speak to yourself, that no one else can hear, matters. Once you offer a judgment-free, open space to communicate, you’d be surprised how much that you’ve bottled up over the years comes out (and hopefully makes room for healing and growing).
Self Reflection is needed
Those times when you know who you’re becoming and the life you’re living isn’t what you expected are when self-reflection is needed. At any time, and in any place, you can remind yourself that you can help improve your mindset, the people you choose to be close to you and create change when all you’ve known is comfortable action.
Self-reflection is a time to focus on what is and what is NOT working. Are you focusing only on everything and everyone that you don’t have? Do you blame others for what happens to you in your life? Are you fixated on how people view you? If you are tired of feeling this way and you’re starting to notice all the things you’d like to improve on- this is self-reflection. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to call yourself out on your own bullshit and seek improvement.
No Method is Universal
What may work for you may be completely different from what works for a friend. This is why doing a phase of TRIAL & ERROR is detrimental during this process. Try out journaling, keep prompts for every week, and look up creative ways to journal on Pinterest. Be open to different methods in order to develop a stronger appreciation for yourself, use positive and respectful thoughts and words toward your actions and appearance, and with all of this, everything around you will change (the people you surround yourself with as well). There is a method that will work for you, but it will take lots of patience and being open to new ones. If you’re willing to test out all methods, go all in.
There is no SINGLE path to loving yourself
‘Just love yourself’ doesn’t work, and never will. Loving yourself takes work, it will be challenging and you will need to be cautious of your thoughts and actions every single day. Will you want to care for yourself every day? No. Will you love yourself every day? No. But will you try your best to create a judgment-free, open, relationship with yourself as you would a close friend? I hope so. In the end, the closest person you will be with throughout your life is yourself. Why not make it a beautiful relationship?
Health & Mindset Coach