“I looooove you. I love you? I love you.” Standing in front of the mirror repeating three simple words couldn’t have felt more awkward. Or uncomfortable. You spend most of your life waiting to say those three words to someone else, yet you forget to say them to the most important person of all — YOU. Self-love is something that has never come easy. It’s taken me quite a while to look myself in the mirror and tell myself, “I love you,” without feeling conceited, narcissistic, or just plain uncomfortable.
So, I get it. It’s an uncomfortable experience. And often a struggle to love yourself — imperfections and all. We spend more time picking ourselves apart than loving all our uniqueness.
When you spend years being outwardly validated, it’s hard to flip the switch to internal validation. And to be honest, after embracing those powerful words (I love you) and saying them to that imperfect reflection in the mirror, I’ve realized that the only validation that matters is my own.
When I embraced minimalism and a simpler lifestyle, external validation fell away. It was no longer important. I became much more comfortable with ME.
The focus turned to being happy in life through non-physical means. In other words, decorating my internal world instead of the external world.
Sure, like you, I still love beautiful things, but their level of importance dropped way down on my list of values.
When the material stuff drops away, you focus on yourself. You find yourself again.
So how do you love yourself in a world that tells you to love stuff and others more than yourself? And where do you start if you’re confused or lost on where to start your own self-love conversation?
Well, you start by doing what’s awkward and uncomfortable. And you start by telling yourself it’s not selfish to love yourself. Then, you do the work — every.damn.day. — without fail.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Minimalism & Self-Love
Is minimalism directly linked to self-love? I believe it is.
In our world today, we seek validation and love through things. We become accustomed to finding happiness, fulfillment, and love from social media likes, buying more stuff, buying bigger stuff, and inevitably feeling we have to outdo each other to be loved the most.
Minimalism brings you back to the essentials, removing the need to convince others that you’re a special snowflake. You don’t need validation or approval when you’re comfortable in your own skin and with your lifestyle.
The Struggles on the Journey to Self-Love
It’s been a long road to loving myself more.
Being a GenX, self-love was considered selfish, egotistical, narcissistic, and generally associated with being conceited. So I avoided it for fear of becoming some vain, selfish creature.
As for the struggles, in my own journey, I’ve seen how nasty my brain can be to me:
- I’ve beaten myself up for mistakes (sometimes repeatedly for the same one).
- Set myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations and comparing. Such as setting an unrealistic goal for paying my debt off, thinking I can have a multi-million dollar business in a matter of months or a few short years, or trying a spending ban when I know I’ll rebel against it. #imarebel #sorrynotsorry #spendingbansarenotforme
- Treated my body with neglect and unhealthy choices — ahem, neglecting self-care for a year? Yep.
Loving yourself keeps life light and simple. You’ll have more inner strength and be able to pick yourself up faster when you fall (we all do). You’ll also be much happier.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
~ Louise L. Hay
8 Steps & Techniques to Master Self-love
Mindfulness focuses your awareness on the present moment while allowing you to calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings and thoughts. It allows you to understand why you may not love yourself, and it makes you aware of the thoughts or feelings that may be making you feel differently about yourself. Most of all, it lets you know when you’re comparing yourself to others.
Technique: Try the “I love you” exercise in front of the mirror each morning for a week and take note of how it makes you feel and what thoughts you have. Louise Hay has a fabulous book called Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life that I highly recommend!
Self-Respect and Kindness
Would you kick a friend when they’re down? Of course not! You’d be kind, encouraging, and offer positive support. You’d give your bestie a hug when she was feeling down. So why not hug yourself?
And go on, celebrate your uniqueness. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself the way you are NOW, not when you lose 10 pounds, find the ultimate soul mate, or land your dream job. Remove the conditions and be kind to yourself NOW. When you treat yourself as “less than,” you’re not showing yourself the respect and kindness you deserve.
Technique: Adopt a self-care or self-love ritual. Be intentional about what you put in your body.
Challenge Your Negative Story
Oh, those pesky negativity gremlins! They sneak up on you, and before you know it, there’s a whole narrative swirling in your brain about how you can’t do something or that you’re somehow not good enough. When the negativity gremlins sneak up on you, challenge them! Recall an amazing achievement you had, or go do something you love to remind yourself that you are worthy of love and that you can do it!
Technique: Make a list of ten achievements or adventures you’ve had in life. Choose one and write a positive story about it. Attach a photo to it that evokes a positive, empowering feeling.
We all mess up. Accept You’re Not Perfect
I’m going to burst your bubble here ~ YOU ARE NOT PERFECT. None of us are. We all make mistakes regularly. By striving for perfection, you are holding yourself back from experiencing all of the world and the love and happiness it has to offer.
It also keeps you from discovering other ways to do things, see things, or make things. Perfectionism & creativity seldom go hand in hand. It’s from our greatest mistakes and messes that true beauty and growth are born.
For most of my life, I’ve been a perfectionist. It’s held me back from so many things. Until I finally surrendered. I let go of the fact that I was, for the most part, not in control of many things in life.
Technique: Take a colouring book and colour outside ALL the lines. Then laugh. Laugh at the wonderful messy piece of art you’ve created.
Use Positive Self-talk to Encourage and Empower Yourself
When was the last time you told yourself you were smart, beautiful, funny, or worthy of financial success?
When you use positive self-talk to encourage and empower yourself, you set intentions in your subconscious, and you tell the universe that is what you want more of. When you focus on lack and negativity, you get more of it.
When you focus on abundance, prosperity, and love, you get more of it in your life. Now, every day isn’t always going to be a bouquet of roses or a sunny day. I get it. We all have bad days. But when you make it a habit to encourage yourself with positive language, the bad days become fewer, and you get back up on your feet that much faster.
Can I simply state the fact that comparison kills creativity? It does. And it strips you of energy and enthusiasm.
As a writer and coach, I’ve compared myself to everyone and everything. I’ve burdened myself with thoughts like: “What’s wrong with my writing?“, “Does no one like my photos?“, “Wow, so and so has an amazing Instagram feed. I’ll never be as good as them.” And yet, these aren’t fair comparisons because maybe they’ve been doing it longer than I have or writing every day for 4 hours a day.
Technique: Stop yourself when you start comparing. Focus on YOUR journey. Make a list of your strengths.
Live with Purpose
Oh, Gawd, I know. I just wrote that. I can see you scrunching up your brow and thinking, “why on earth did you just have to go and complicate it all?” It’s not complicated. This is not an exercise to frustrate you or bring out an existential crisis of some sort. It’s to help you realize that when you live with some kind of purpose, big or small, it connects you with the world around you. It creates belonging. And belonging fosters self-love. We all want to be accepted. But the sad truth is we go about it the wrong way. You know, through stuff and excess. Finding a purpose can be as simple as this: I am beginning to love myself and the world more. See, simple?
I honestly didn’t know my purpose for a long time, so I started with this: I am here to inspire and empower others. And gradually, as you live your simple purpose, you’ll start to hone and refine it. What does this have to do with self-love? Purpose creates clarity. It promotes love and happiness. When you feel you have a purpose in life, you love yourself more.
Technique: Make a list of three intentions for the year. Not goals! Intentions. Things you’d like more of in your life. Such as: Being with family more and spending quality time with them.
Next, make a list of things you’d like to try. Myself, I had always wanted to try drawing, calligraphy, and writing as more than a hobby. So I went out and did them. Think of the things you’ve always put off doing but would love to experiment with. Now go out and do them! All of it! Make your intentions a reality – live them. All those things you’ve wanted to do – make time and do them! Through action comes purpose.
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ”
~ M. Scott Peck
Try a Little Forgiveness
Divorce, bad relationships, money problems, losing a job — these are all life circumstances that can get you feeling down on yourself. By learning to forgive yourself for past mistakes and let go of them, you lift the weight of them from your soul.
Technique: Write yourself a letter forgiving yourself for something you’ve been dwelling on. Then burn it. (with caution, of course). Or, make a quick video on your phone forgiving yourself, then watch it. After you’ve forgiven yourself, tell yourself what you do want from life.
When I love myself, I’m at my happiest, most complete self. I wear a grin from ear to ear, and I don’t care who knows it or sees it. In fact, when you radiate happiness and positive vibes, everyone notices, and you uplift everyone around you.
Stop holding onto your belief that you’re unworthy — we are all worthy and deserving of a beautiful life. Step into it. Choose to love yourself TODAY, not tomorrow, after you’ve used excuse after excuse to avoid it. Love is a powerful healing force.