In 2011, I came across a meme on Facebook that struck me so heavily, I added it as my cover photo and haven’t changed it since.
First, love yourself. Three very simple but powerful words!
When I speak about loving yourself first, I’m not talking about ego-driven, self-centered, middle finger to the world type of self-love. To be very honest, that really isn’t self-love at all. True self-love is about honoring and respecting oneself without having to be hateful or disrespectful to others.
Self-love is a practice of appreciation for yourself; a habit that supports your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It will allow you to accept your weaknesses just as much as your strengths, something most of us find it difficult to do,
It may sound cliched, but until you learn the practice of self-love, you truly cannot be loving towards others. Imagine that you have a cup of water. The cup represents you and the water represents love. A full cup has enough water to pour into another, while an empty cup has nothing to give. Remember this analogy.
Here are four ways you can practice self-love on a daily basis. Mastery of these will drastically improve your relationship with yourself and your relationship with others. You can thank me later!
It is extremely easy to be harsh and judgemental towards ourselves. Self-judgement occurs when we pick apart our actions, dwell on them and beat ourselves up over what we’ve done or didn’t do. The danger of this is that when we focus primarily on our negative actions or characteristics we get caught up in a vicious cycle which often leads to self-loathing.
In no way am I saying not to be aware of your actions and make the necessary changes. What I am saying is that it is a self-destructive habit to remain focused on things we don’t like about ourselves or actions and to label them wrong or bad. To love yourself is to accept yourself, good, bad and everything in between. We all have flaws, so condemning yourself for having them is condemning yourself for being human.
Accept yourself fully for who you are and if you do find things about yourself that you want to change, work on them in a patient, nourishing way. Remind yourself of your humanity and resist the urge to constantly make yourself wrong for being flawed.
Show Yourself The Same Kindness You Show Your Close Friends And Loved Ones
This may sound strange to some but so many of us can easily have patience and understanding with others but not ourselves. It has been said that your compassion is incomplete if it doesn’t include you.
Think of how you treat your best friend when they come to you with a problem. Do you typically hear them out? Remind them of how wonderful they are? Not allow them to speak negatively about their worth? We do these things for people we care about without a second thought. But how often do we do these for ourselves?
If you’ve had a bad day or encountered a negative circumstance, it’s important that you show yourself the same patience, understanding, and gentleness you do others. If we are harsh, constantly critical, demeaning and mean to our friends we will not have those friends for long. If we are any of those ways to ourselves we create an unhealthy mental and emotional state. You have to live with you for the rest of your life. Would you rather feel encouraged or belittled?
I have struggled with this particular concept my entire life. In an effort to treat people the way I wanted to be treated I have at times allowed people to walk all over me. There were times I should have said no to a request but didn’t. My refusal to say no when I really wanted to, created resentment towards others and ultimately made me angry with myself. I did not honor myself in those moments and not honoring myself meant I was not fully loving myself.
We are not required to do everything everyone else wants us to do. Setting healthy boundaries means that you take into consideration what you can handle and what you cannot. It means you are aware that you can always choose between doing things that would be healthy for you and doing things that would make you uncomfortable. Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we must do what is asked of us even if internally we know we don’t want to do those things or that those things will make us feel bad.
Remember the cup of water I mentioned earlier? If someone asked you for all the water in your cup and you knew you needed at least half of it, would you give it to them? Would you sacrifice all you have for someone else? Would you ignore your needs to please someone else? No, you probably wouldn’t. Setting healthy boundaries means that you recognize if you fill up someone else’s cup and it results in yours being empty, you are the one who suffers.
We’ve all done things we wished we hadn’t done. It is said that hindsight is 20/20 but what is rarely said is that getting stuck in hindsight is a terrible thing.
When we get stuck in hindsight we are basically beating ourselves up for not making better choices and dwelling on what we could have done or what we should have done. This type of behavior is very damaging to our well-being as it fills us with regret instead of love. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging a misdeed. There is nothing wrong with realizing we have made a mistake. However, to get trapped in feeling bad about our mistakes is not only unhealthy but stops us from functioning to the best of our ability.
It is a very freeing and loving practice to forgive yourself for your mistakes, rather than dwell on them. When you make a mistake look at it as a lesson, show yourself compassion and embrace it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Not only will you feel better about yourself, you will also change your view of what mistakes are and in the future will be less harsh on yourself.
Remembering these steps and incorporating them into your life on a daily basis will bring you a greater sense of peace. In order to fully love yourself, you must be at peace with who you are. And in order to fully love others, you have to F.L.Y.
First, love yourself. Just do it!