A beginner’s guide to self-love

Self-love is more complex than simply starting to love yourself. It is a path with different routes and neither definite direction nor a known destination. Everyone’s journey is different and only you know what is best for you.  Whether you are just beginning your quest or are somewhere along the way, here are some impulses that might help you along your path. Make them your own and trust your inner voice to guide you.

Self-love means coming back home to yourself

The path is not about finding yourself, it is rather about rediscovering yourself, about coming back home. Your true self is always there, even though it might be buried beneath social conditioning and a believe system which has been shaped by other peoples’ opinions and your conclusions about them. To right the image of yourself in your head, you need to reintroduce yourself: ask yourself who you are, what you like and what you dislike. Think about who you are when you are alone, what makes you genuinely happy and what gives you energy? What drives you? Asking yourself these questions might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable, but think of it as a date with yourself: Think about the questions you would ask if you were to really try to get to know someone, when you are on a mission to understand how their brain works. Get to know your true self on the same level and start to see who you are so you can love yourself the way you deserve.

Forgive your past (and future) self

When looking back, it is easy to judge yourself for what you did when you were struggling along or hurting. The shame which is often associated with these memories can be harmful to your self-perception due to the tendency to regard yourself through the eyes of your past self. One thing about life is that it messy and hard – and there is no perfect way to live and do no wrong. Understand that making mistakes and hurting people does not make you a bad person, it only makes you human. By accepting this you can invite forgiveness into your life. Forgive yourself for what you did when you were surviving. Life is not just black and white but is easy to look back and focus on isolated aspects you did wrong. Rather try to understand why you acted this way. What were the circumstances that lead to this? Try to see the whole picture and forgive yourself for what you did. Do not observe your present self through the lens of your past and let it keep hurting you. Instead, try to open up to the opportunity to learn and grow from your past. You can always only do what is within your possibility range at the time, try to remind yourself of this for the past and for the future.

Self-love means self-respect

In order to build self-love, your internal perspective and external actions need to be in line. If you do not act upon your true self, you create internal feelings of frustrations and being misunderstood. These feelings disconnect you from yourself, so remind yourself that who you are on the inside is more than enough. The world deserves to see who you truly are and be as unapologetically yourself as you can be. Respect yourself for who you are and notice what changes.

Recognize the process

Life is never just one thing and it is also constantly changing. Trust yourself and your process that it is not only going to be the things that are going wrong, hurting you or putting you down. Love yourself even if you are not where you want to be right now. This is tough, but remember that no one has been through what you have – no one shares exactly your experience, so everything along your process is right and okay. Digging deep and looking at which you have been looking away from for so long is hard, so show compassing for yourself and recognize that it will take time and strength, but you have it in you already.

Notice yourself

Try to put in the effort and notice what makes you happy, what you are good at, where you recharge. Try to see which people are around you when you feel most alive, where you feel accepted and at home. Once you have identified it – be it! Follow the path which brings you joy to find your spark and life will unfold along the way. Be so kind to yourself and cut back on everything which is no longer serving you, may it be people or things. Instead, try to invest in yourself, do things which are good for you and will make you proud in the future –  you will gain so much more meaning in yourself and in your life.

Love yourself the way you love others

Remember the thing you tell yourself but would not accept your best friends saying about themselves? You are not deserving of these thoughts either, you are worthy of so much more. Remind yourself of the ways you celebrate others, how you are there for them and how you embrace them just the way they are. How, through this, you encourage them to become better. Show up for yourself the same way you show up for others because you deserve it as well.

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