Sometimes, the hardest person in the world to love is yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up with things and prioritize the needs of other people, your work, or responsibilities before your own. The unfortunate consequences of neglecting your own needs can manifest physically emotionally, and spiritually, adding stress and anxiety into your life.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you’re shallow or narcissistic.
On the contrary, practicing self-love fulfills a basic obligation you have to yourself that no one else can fulfill.
Learning how to cultivate a relationship of self-directed kindness, compassion, and acceptance takes patience. This life-long journey doesn’t magically transform overnight. But with time and practice, it can become a natural part of your day and bring you immense fulfillment.
Become more mindful of not only how you are treating and caring for others, but also how you are looking after yourself.
Always remember that first and foremost, you have a duty to love thyself.
1. Making time for you
How often do you feel like you’re so preoccupied doing things for others that you don’t have the time or the energy to do something for yourself??
If you’re a busy person, it’s probably quite often.
With demands from family, work, and other responsibilities, it can be challenging finding time in the day to set aside just for yourself. And even if you find the time, you might be feeling guilty indulging in self-care when there’s still work to do.
It’s not selfish to look after and care for yourself. In fact, it can be the best thing for your health, happiness, and also your relationships with others. It helps you unwind, release stress, get better sleep, improves your quality of life, helps you deal with adversity, pursue your passions, invest in personal development, and practice self-compassion.
Self-care is a necessary part of life. In addition to eating, bathing, and sleeping, you require time to recharge and focus on your other needs. Think of this as the time which you set aside to relax, exercise, nurture your spiritual practice, enjoy your hobbies, and quite simply, to do whatever it is that makes you happy.
Your first love needs to be for yourself.
2. Practice forgiveness
When you hold on to old grudges, your attachment to the past takes away the beauty of the present.
When you forgive, both yourself and others, you are freed from the weight of the past.
It opens your heart to new adventures and creates space for love and joy to grow. Instead of dwelling on old memories, direct your attention to momentary awareness. Gift yourself with the opportunity to explore and enjoy all of the peace and healing that comes from the here and now.
Forgiveness and gratitude help to increase your feelings of well-being. Adopting this kind of mindset helps you cultivate happiness in all of the rich experiences you encounter. Each moment becomes an opportunity to practice appreciation and acknowledge how fortunate you are.
Forgiveness helps you to release that which is holding you back from expressing self-love.
3. Quiet your mind
Have you ever been enjoying your day and then suddenly, out of nowhere, some negative thoughts come flooding through your mind?
If left to wander off to its own devices, your mind can be a dangerous place.
Insecurities, fears, and stress can undermine your self-confidence and ruin a perfectly good moment.
These unproductive and dangerous ideas change your mental landscape. They make you doubt and find fault with both yourself and others. In either case, they challenge your ability to maintain relationships and to trust your own thinking.
Learning to recognize your mental habits, repetitive thoughts, and emotional triggers is a good start to cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself.
4. Honor your body
There is no shortage of opportunities to feel like your body is inadequate in some or many ways.
The pressures from the media, popular culture, advertisements, and quite often from yourself, can make it very difficult to accept your body.
Stop inspecting it or scanning for flaws. Work towards accepting the reflection in the mirror and growing the courage to love it, unconditionally.
Studies have shown that social media for example can negatively influence the way you view your own body. In fact, the more time you spend on Facebook for example, the more likely you are to have body image and appearance concerns.
Ask yourself, are you neglecting to care for your body? Are you pushing yourself too hard or not hard enough? Have you been fueling your system with nourishing foods and adequate rest? Do you build yourself up or tear yourself down?
Take care to treat your body with the respect and love it deserves.
5. Say no
When you get in the habit of saying yes every time you’re asked to do something or give something to someone, you’re not prioritizing yourself.
There is nothing wrong with helping out others, except when it happens at your expense. If you’re chronically overworked, tired, and stressed out, saying yes when you really need to be saying no will only make things more difficult.
Learn to put yourself first but learning to say no. You don’t have to accept every invitation, or attend every function. Similarly, you don’t have to be available every time someone asks a favor or wants something.
The next time someone asks would you mind or do you want to or could you just, stop before you automatically say yes. Do you have the time, energy, and the desire to fulfill this request? If not, the kindest answer, the one that honors your needs might quite simply be no.
Falling in love with yourself is a life-long journey.
With each new challenge comes an opportunity to rekindle this important relationship.
Relieve the strain on your mind-body and soul by coming back to yourself any practicing self-love.
It will make your life and the life of those nearest to you all the more richer.
You deserve it.
Photo by Brooke Cagle