“Loving yourself” is the act of seeing yourself fully and authentically; the act of taking care of yourself, healing your past and addressing the present. When you are able to love yourself, you are able to love others. You’re able to have enough inner stability to release yourself from relying on external approval and validation to feel worthy. You’re able to recognize your most authentic self for what it is: unique and perfectly imperfect. Here are 4 important lessons I’ve learned over the years in my journey to loving myself.
Take care of yourself the same way you’d take care of someone you love:
Take care of yourself the same way you would take care of someone you love. Treat yourself with the same respect that you would treat others. If you are someone who sometimes struggles with a negative inner voice—imagine saying those negative thoughts about yourself to someone you love; you wouldn’t. Hold yourself to that same standard and challenge those negative, and likely irrational, thoughts. Do your best to maintain balance in your life and try to do something every day that makes you feel good, whether it is working on challenging negative thought patterns or taking a bath.
Respect your body the same way you’d want your daughter to respect her body:
Read Sarah Koppelkam’s article on How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her Body. She urges parents to refrain from commenting on their daughter’s body, and to instead focus on teaching her how it works: “you should encourage her to run because it makes her feel less stressed, not because it will help her lose weight. Encourage her to mountain bike or rock climbing because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes”. Treat your body like a best friend: nourish it, honor it and listen to it. Exercise your body with the goal of feeling healthy, fit and mentally strong—not with the goal of being skinnier. Get enough sleep, drink enough water and support your body with nourishing food. As Jim Rohn puts it, “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”. Write a love note to your body. Check out the love note pictured below, written by the inspirational Holiday Phillips of Breathe and Stop for inspiration. As Jim Rohn puts it, “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”.
Make yourself proud:
Do you know what feels even more empowering than making others proud? Making you proud of yourself. It’s the building block of genuine confidence. It’s so easy to let the fear of failure keep you stuck in your comfort zone and unwilling to take risks. Once you are able to feel the fear and do it anyway, you will be left with a sense of irreplaceable empowerment. Think about something you can do today (no matter how small) that will make you proud of yourself; and then do it—whether it’s going for a run, waking up an hour earlier or getting an errand done you’ve been putting off for a while. Be the hero of your own story, not the passive victim. Go after your goals and don’t let fear or excuses get in the way. Don’t get stuck between the interim of knowing and doing. Just do it! Start looking for a new job, start running, take a yoga class. Recognize that you are responsible for your life, no matter the starting point or past failures. You are responsible for what happens next—how exciting is that?
Focus on quality relationships, not quantity:
A 75-year longitudinal study known as the Harvard Grant Study found that the number one secret to leading a healthy and fulfilling life is good relationships. This particular study has been following 268 Harvard undergraduates for the past 75 years, measuring a range of physiological, anthropological and physical traits, in order to understand what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. According to Robert Waldinger, director of the study, “it’s not just the number of friends you have, it’s the quality of your close relationships that matter”. It doesn’t matter whether you have a million friends or have tons of plans every weekend. Popularity is irrelevant. It’s the quality of those relationships that matter—the vulnerability, depth and extent to which you feel fully seen, and can fully see another. Additionally, the various data gathered from the study has shown that those who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80, meaning that good relationships are just as important for your mental health as your physical health!