10 Ways to Love Yourself
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
― Charles Bukowski
It’s something I learned was deeply important as I became an adult. As a child though, I had no clue.
It was so hard to love myself as I was. I struggled with my own self-hate for the longest time, and I hadn’t the slightest idea how to overcome this part of myself. I went through years learning how, taking in every moment and feeling and thought that ever tore me apart or uplifted me. I learned what kind of person I wanted to be, and slowly I made myself a path, trying to rebuild my soul to a state where I could get there.
In words, it all sounds simple enough, but to all those who may be feeling this way, to you and me both, it is a life’s journey getting there.
It’s important though. Because it’s only when we are able to love ourselves, that we are able to take the step to truly love others. If you are having trouble with your own self-hatred, here are some things I have learned from my own journey that I hope will help you building that relationship with yourself. So get a cup of tea or coffee and get your notepad ready! Here it goes.
1. Believe You Can Get There
It’s important to take the first initiative, and that is to hope to one day get there. And then to believe you can get there. I know. It’s hard. And there were so many times when I sort of gave up on myself, not believing that I was capable of ever being comfortable in my own skin…or even comfortable with my own mind. I couldn’t imagine myself in a better place or a better state, and perhaps you are like that now. What got me through though, was my stubbornness. My stubbornness with hope…that I never let go of completely. And that made a world of a difference. Because that kept me constantly searching myself and the world around me. It kept me hopeful of learning something that one day, could help me.
2. Never Compare Yourself to Anyone Else
Never compare yourself to anyone else. When you compare yourself to another person, you are doing a disservice to not only yourself, but to other people. And it’s something one has to learn and ingrain in themselves throughout their lives. Catch yourself when you’re doing it and stop yourself. Track back your thoughts and even when you may not truly believe it at first, try to accept who you are and be glad of where you are and what you can look forward to in the future. When you can finally move on from comparing yourself, you will do less hurting to your own soul and be miles closer to being able to love who you are.
3. Address Your Insecurities
We all have parts of ourselves we are insecure about. Find your greatest insecurity and search for the best way to solve the problem or learn to be able to love and accept that part of yourself. We all have the one thing that hinders our soul, like a wall. For me, it was my social anxiety. It depends on every person, but for me, I sought out professional help. It took me years to build up the courage to do that, even though it sounds simple enough. The important thing is finding the solution that truly solves the core issue, not just a quick solution that helps cover it up and keeps you from thinking about it. Most of the time, the way to fix the issue isn’t in the issue itself: the solution is rectifying the way our mind thinks.
4. Explore the World!
Go outside and explore! I know a lot of the things I’ve been talking about have been mostly aimed towards the inner self, but exploring the outer world is often just as important for many people out there. Even for you introverts! (Trust me, I’m an introvert myself). Go to places that is in your comfort zone. Choose places where your interests lie and explore places that make you think about the bigger picture.
Even just walking in a bustling area, on my way to getting coffee or going to a park helps me realize just how big this world is. And how small I am. Slowly, you will begin to realize that most of the world is just as imperfect, awkward, and lost as any of us are. Realize that in this huge, huge world, the only person we can truly be true to is our own selves. And even if you are just one person in this world, that definitely does not make you less significant. Just human, as everyone else.
5. Do What you Love
Find a purpose with your life that brings meaning and value and love and happiness to it. Maybe you were taught how to survive in society, but that’s not what brings people happiness. Surviving is not the same feeling as living. The means and money doesn’t matter. Find what truly makes you happy and build a strong passion for it. Everything else will follow. Truly…I think that this next generation that we are growing towards is making all of this possible. When you are able to do the one thing that makes you happy in life, there is no need to create a mask out of your life or a way to cover up the unhappiness. Others will be able to see the true you, and even just that, is a way we fall in love with each other so easily: being able to see honesty in one another, through their dreams and passions. Plus, when you love what you are doing, it becomes a whole lot easier to love yourself as you are.
6. Learn to Not Solely Rely on the Love of Others
Most people do not mean to hurt you. Truly. But sometimes we end up hurting each other in ways we couldn’t ever be able to understand from just our own lives and minute perspectives. I built a wall around myself, constantly being hurt and ostracized unknowingly by others. Relationships with other people can bend so quickly, so first and foremost, create a steady, firm relationship with yourself.
Be constant and steadfast to yourself. Otherwise, we end up not being strong enough to hold others. When you can love yourself, you open up a relationship where you can be more open with other people. That is when true relationships form. Not through conformity. And, most definitely, not through fear.
“How you love yourself is
how you teach others
to love you”
– Rupi Kaur
7. Accept your Past
We become the people we are now because of our past. And sometimes, the past is a heavy thing in our hearts. I don’t know which came first: my self-love or the acceptance of my past…but they go hand-in-hand, so I decided to add this onto the list. Work towards it. Revisit your past and understand why and how it hurt you. Listen to the stories of other people. And forgive.
We are all different in our own journeys so I cannot give advice that will work for you because nothing is exactly the same between any of us. But that’s the point of living. I truly do believe that we each have our own pasts because it makes us stronger for what we are to face in the future.
8. Start Journaling
Write all the sad thoughts and then write all the ways you can try to fix that. Write everything that you love, and write every beautiful moment you experience, feel, and think.
Writing out everything helps you learn even more about yourself and realize things you never get to realize until you sit down and begin examine it. I say this from personal experience: Journaling helped me learn about myself in ways that had been completely absent before in my life.
“A glimpse into the journal of a (quite intelligent) 16 year old girl. Photographed, with permission, in Central Park.” Source: Humans of New York
9. Be Mindful
Here’s a big one for you: Start training your mind.
Take some time to learn about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I’m not an expert in this, so I cannot give you the breakdown of the exact steps to this…seek professional help to do so. But here is a rendition of how I became more mindful:
Take care of your mind and watch it. Observe it. Take note of it all. Slowly learn to analyze both every thought and thoughtless action you take in your life and learn what it is doing to yourself. I know when I first started doing this, my mind was completely overwhelmed with all the negative thoughts I had towards myself. They had become so normal to me, I didn’t notice them.
Make the deliberate attempt to stop your thoughts in its tracks and find every reason it is wrong. Find every reason you are beautiful. And work towards that. Every day. Every week and month. And even though it may first start out as a forced exercise, it will over the years become a habit that will change yourself and the world around you for the better.
Be mindful and slowly begin to create a new mind… through repetition and habit…one that is more kind and understanding towards yourself.
10. Be Patient
Love takes time to grow.
It took me years to get to where I am now…so be patient. It took me 10 years to even get to the point where I finally asked someone for help. We all develop and grow at different rates, so remember that your journey is unique to you. And I know perhaps reading all this may not necessarily be enough to get yourself to start loving yourself… so here is a list I’ve quickly drawn up that I have incorporated in my life over the years. I hope this helps you. Save it. Print it out. Keep it by you and always remind yourself. This doesn’t happen overnight. So withstand the storms when they come. But trust me that they never last forever.
There is a point where self hatred can become a very dangerous thing for yourself and the people around you. We, as human beings, can degrade ourselves so easily to the point where we become taken up by fear. To the point where all we have left is fight or flight.
I have been there. I have fought tooth and nail, trying to save myself from that part of me, and it is one of the hardest battles anyone can ever face.
It takes time and patience with yourself, but please do not give up. Seek out help. And above all else, be gentle, kind and loving to yourself. I truly believe that a better world is in store for all of us the minute we learn to be kinder to ourselves. And when the world is giving us every reason and motive to hate each other, stand up for all that is good. In people.
This blog post was inspired by BTS x UNICEF’s campaign #LoveYourself. If you have some time and are interested, you can view their site to learn more about how they hope to end violence and save the lives of children around the world.
Thank you for taking your time to ready this blog post!
If you found this helpful, please share and spread the word through the share button down below. Let us all aim towards a better world with less violence and hatred. If you have any stories or ways of practicing self-love you would like to share, feel free to comment down below! I’d love to hear from you ♥