“Learning to love yourself matters.” I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times. Probably throughout your entire life.
How many times has society told us we need to love ourselves in order for others to love us? And how many ads, self-help books, articles, tv shows and songs have tried spreading this message globally? But how many times has it only made us feel worse?
This is a common response, because loving ourselves isn’t something easy or something that you we accomplish within a day or two. How can it be, with the impossibly high standards that we are spoon-fed since birth.
Learning to love yourself isn’t always easy
It makes sense that whenever we hear this piece of advice, our first instinct is to feel bad about ourselves. Because hey, it seems we’re failing at the universally acknowledged chore of self-love.
So here’s the thing. Learning to love ourselves matters, of course it does. But for entirely different reasons than the ones we’re led to believe. Is it really because people around us can’t love us unless we do it first? Or is it like Stephen Chobsky once said that we accept the love we think we deserve?
Why learning to love yourself actually matters
Loving ourselves actually matters because the person in the mirror we face every single morning is the one person that will always, unconditionally, be there for us. It’s not your mom or your dad or your siblings or your best friend. It’s you.
The person who will share every single moment with you, each experience and memory you hold dear in your heart… is you.
How are we expected to live a happy, healthy life if we can’t bring ourselves to even stand being around that person?
Let me ask you a question now: Have you ever felt lonely? And if so, does it feel like a thick rope wrapping around your body, one that you’re unable to break from no matter how hard you try? Well, here’s a little secret tool I’ve learnt to deal with loneliness, too: it becomes so much more bearable when you actually like yourself. Because you start enjoying the time you spent by yourself. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now, I know what you might be thinking, “Okay, that sounds good and all but how am I supposed to do that?” Yes, like I said, it’s not easy. We’re constantly bombarding our brain with information. And believe me when I say at least 70% of that can be harmful to our well-being, especially our self-esteem.
Comparing ourselves to others through social media, hearing during our entire life what other people think about us, shaping ourselves into a version that will be liked by everyone. All of these are extremely damaging habits we do on the daily, most times without even realizing it. It’s all about habits. Our minds can get used to anything. Absolutely anything. We can teach our mind to think positively, we can teach it to re-shape its mechanisms and instead of feeding us with negative ideas about ourselves, actually do the opposite. And yes, it takes time. Of course it takes time.
You can’t achieve this kind of thing in a day, a week or even a month. But the results are long-term. Once you learn to appreciate the little things about yourself, you start seeing your real value, and accept what you can’t change… it sticks. It becomes a habit. And I promise, life gets a lot easier when you learn to like that reflection in the mirror. And I’m not just talking about looks.
5 Practical Steps You Can Take Towards Learning To Love Yourself
1. Start Doing Something You Love Every Day
The truth is we spend most of our days either working or studying, or sometimes both. We usually don’t prioritize taking some time during the day to do something we truly enjoy. But it can be an amazing serotonin boost. It’s been scientifically shown that doing the things we take pleasure in can help us achieve a greater state of mental stability.
2. Be Smart About Social Media
Do you follow any content creators in any social media platform that make you feel bad about yourself? Do you find yourself comparing your life to others, wishing you were them or thinking you’re not doing enough to either get or deserve that kind of lifestyle? Unfollow, unsubscribe, unpin or delete anything from your feed that brings you down. After all, that old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is actually true and you’ll be surprised by how much better you feel when you start providing your mind with content that only makes you feel better.
3. Drain Your Life From Toxicity
Pushing toxic people away is an extremely difficult thing to do, especially if they hold a big place in your heart. But the truth is if you surround yourself with people who make you feel bad about yourself, chances are it’ll be a lot harder to break that vicious cycle and start on your journey of self-love.
Sometimes it’s not just about someone being toxic because they mean to, but people we love perhaps saying things that hurt us. Communication is key if that’s the case. Teaching others what is harmful to us makes it easier for people to understand us. And hopefully if they love you, they’ll respect your boundaries and make changes.
4. Transform The Target Of Your Inner Voice Into Someone You Love
Now, this is a technique I’ve started using a few months ago, and it’s given me great results. It’s pretty simple and you can start practicing today.
Whenever that little voice in your head (you know which one I’m talking about), tries to bring you down, blame you for things you have no control over, or punish you for making a mistake…think about that voice talking to someone you love instead of you.
What if your friend made that awful mistake? Would you punish them the way you’re punishing yourself right now? What if your little sister told you how she feels about that flaw of hers? Would you tell her she’s right and make her feel worse? Probably not.
This exercise is effective because it makes us realize how cruel and unfair we often are to ourselves. It teaches us to be kinder, more patient, and react the same way we would towards the people we love the most. Because at the end of the day, that’s the goal.
5. Put Yourself First
This is probably one of the hardest ones. Trust me, I understand. We’ve been told for years that putting ourselves above others means we’re selfish, egotistic people. That is not the case.
You can still care about others and be a great person, while prioritizing yourself when needed.
You’re important. You matter.