simple strategies for loving yourself like you love others
Hey – do you love yourself? How do you love and care for yourself? I bet you do special things for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day and lots of other days that aren’t “Hallmark Holidays.”
So, how do you show love to yourself? I CAN assume that you do special things for yourself, like you do for others…because you ARE one of your loved ones, right?
Ok, so you’re saying, well……sorta, yeah. Maybe it’s more likely that you put yourself last. Maybe the norm for you is to neglect yourself while focusing on doing loving and caring things for others.
You probably know that it’s important to love yourself. If you’re a mom, you probably taught your kids about loving themselves. But what about you? Do you really love yourself? Or do you wonder what “loving myself” really means and looks like? And, you might also wonder how to love yourself…
Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.
First, let me tell you what loving yourself doesn’t mean. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you are egotistical or are always bragging about yourself. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ever need to improve anything about yourself. And, it doesn’t mean that you have it all together or are better than anyone else.
It does mean accepting ourselves as the unique and special human beings that we are. It means wanting to take care of ourselves, have compassion for ourselves, and be “on our own side” or having our own backs.
Loving Yourself Means Accepting Your Unique Self
A lot of us struggle with accepting ourselves as we are. It’s HUGE
I remember, even back in grade school, comparing myself to others and not really ever feeling like I was “as good as” the other children. I have a specific memory of looking at my knees in gym class, in middle school, and noticing that my knees didn’t look like the other girls’ knees and of course mine weren’t good enough; they looked “weird.”
Kind of interesting that this stands out to me as something I clearly remember. It took me many many years to truly love myself “as I am.” When I realized that every person has the same amount of worth, that’s probably when I started the process of learning to love myself.
It’s so important to remember that we don’t have to be like anyone else. Our job is to be ourselves. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn that we are ok just the way we are, and a lot of times we forget. It’s not that we can’t strive to be better or improve in an area of our lives, but we are who we are. And it’s perfectly ok to be where we’re at.
Learning to love yourself can be a process.I think it is more common for people to struggle with feeling self love than for people to just feel it automatically.
Loving Yourself Means Taking Care of Yourself
Loving yourself also means taking care of yourself – you know, like you’ve taken care of others. Compare taking care of yourself with how you have taken care of your others – like your children.
You made sure the kids got enough sleep, ate a variety of healthy foods, got some exercise and fresh air, and tried to instill in them a sense of confidence and positive self esteem. Do you take care of yourself in these ways too? Do you eat healthy foods a majority of the time? Do you get regular exercise? Do you get enough sleep?
I used to put off doing these things because it seemed like I didn’t have the time or energy after I had done all the other things. I mistakenly thought that chilling out in front of the TV was “self care.” And, yeah, sometimes that’s exactly what you need – to just DO nothing. But in order to do all the things on your To Do List (without being completely exhausted), it’s pretty much required that you intentionally take care of yourself.
When you neglect to take care of yourself, you run the risk of getting overwhelmed and stressed to the point where you get exhausted and or even into a state of depression. Getting to this point makes it more difficult to do the things that will make you feel good. (Take it from someone who has been there.)
These days, I think I do a pretty good job taking care of myself. And, I can tell when I’m not taking care of myself. I can be pretty irritable and also feel physically unwell.
Loving Yourself Means Showing Yourself Compassion
On her website, Dr. Kristen Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, says, “Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”
Self compassion is having an awareness of yourself as a human being, understanding that you will make mistakes, forgiving yourself, and being your own source of support.
And, to me, it also means remembering that there is no need to be perfect and in fact, there is no such thing as perfect.
Simple Strategies: What You Can Do Now
I recently listened to Hal Elrod’s podcast where he talked with Kamal Ravikant, author of the book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. I have not read this book (it’s on my list) but in it, one of the things he teaches is to say I Love You (or some variation) to yourself on a regular basis.
Hal Elrod talked about how he does this, as part of his Affirmations, in front of the mirror. Sounds weird and he even said it felt uncomfortable at first. But, as I was riding in my car listening, I said to myself, “I love you.” And, I have to say, it’s pretty powerful. I felt an immediate sense of warmth, peace, and calm. And, that’s pretty much what I strive for in my life. So, I can only imagine what doing it regularly would do for me!
So that’s our SIMPLE STRATEGY for this month – build the habit of saying, “I love you” to yourself daily! Are you ready? This is another thing to add to your “pocket for peace” – by no means is this hard, but it is soooo worth it! Be part of this test…let me know how it goes for you.
AND, please remember, even if you miss a day or two, just restart. There is no such thing as perfect!
Extra Bonus Resource and Exercises
- Self compassion exercises from Kristen Neff (these are fantastic!)