As a society, we are so fortunate that the previous stigmas surrounding self-love have started to lift. Such is a crucial part of an overall healthy life and well being, and the best way to break down all the barriers is to speak freely about why self-love is so critical.
This article will address how to truly love yourself first and why it is so important.
Why it is important to love yourself first
Even those of us with the largest and most supportive networks must realize that we have to love ourselves first, from the inside out, before we can reap any benefits of outside influence.
Striving for self-acceptance is a long journey. However, it is worth every minute, effort, setback, and success.
Your compassion for yourself allows you to embrace your circumstances and give you the ability to keep your head above water no matter how challenging it can be.
When you place loving yourself at the top of your list, you become your own best advocate, and that is a beautiful thing. You also are not prone to be a victim of toxic people.
Being able to recognize within yourself all the wonderful and unique things about you and celebrating them accordingly can be contagious and encourage those around you learn to love themselves as well.
How to cultivate an environment of self-love
As with most things in life, loving yourself takes work, dedication, diligence, honesty, and resilience. The first thing to declare, however, is that you want this for yourself.
Once you speak your intentions into existence, you can really get going on the actionable elements of the journey.
Some examples of ways to create an environment in which your self-worth is prioritized are:
- Practice mindfulness- Having a keen sense of what is happening inside your world and the world at large and using that information in your critical thinking can help you determine more of what you personally think, feel, and want out of life.
- Distinguish between needs and wants- Doing an emotional and spiritual inventory will serve you in so many ways. Eliminating the extras from your life, both internally and physically, will leave you with only what you have determined are the most important pieces of your life.
- Adopt boundaries- The concept of setting boundaries gets a bad reputation because most people see it as being selfish or aggressive, but they are quite the opposite. Setting and enforcing a boundary shows that you know yourself well enough to understand what you cannot allow into your space and what will compromise your overall self-acceptance.
- Set intentions- When you set intentions for yourself and follow them, you will feel so fulfilled. Intentions are basically a free guide on how to live a life you have designed for yourself and worked to make it happen.
It is important to note that this is a list of considerations to get you started and by no means a complete or exclusive set of ideals.
If you want to generate more love towards yourself, it will be a process of trial and error and finding a formula that not only helps you build self-esteem but also allows you to live life in ways that focus on loving yourself first to be able to love the other people.
What does self-love affect?
It is safe to say that the presence or lack of a loving relationship with yourself is going to sneak its way into many other areas. Below are two categories where this can be heavily prevalent.
This should go without saying, but also very important to do a deep dive into the connection between your mental health and the presence of self-love.
If you suffer from chronic low self-esteem, that is a sign that your overall feelings towards yourself are not rooted in love.
Of course, there will always be outside factors or isolated incidents that can cause how we measure our value to ebb and flow, but pay attention to the things that trigger these changes.
According to the American Psychological Association, mental health issues in young adults have increased significantly over the last decade. Cultural trends can be a part of the reason for this increase, among other things.
Social media is one factor that is so heavily influential within this demographic which did not exist for previous generations.
As these platforms rise in popularity and significance, individuals, especially those that are coming of age, are tying their self-worth to what they see, hear, and experience on these accounts.
Managing your mental health and balancing it with self-love is hard work and takes time and practice.
So much outside noise and influence can at times be impossible to avoid that you have to have some coping skills to encourage you to rise above them.
Having people you look up to, or even guilty pleasures, from this walk of life, is common, but distinguishing what is real from what is being edited and portrayed as reality will help you start loving yourself and putting your own mental health in the number one spot.
If you do not love yourself first, simply put, you cannot be open to giving love in relationships of any kind, at least not completely. When you have high self-esteem, that will influence how you approach relationships on every level from:
- How you seek them out
- Your participation and role in them
- How you handle conflict within them
- If they serve you and stimulate growth or cultivate low self-esteem and limit your potential
This is why it is commonplace to hear the adage ‘you cannot love anyone until first; you love yourself.’
When you are secure in your being and have a genuine appreciation for everything that makes you, you, that will shine through to people that you have relationships with.
In romantic relationships, a strong sense of self will allow you to be open to finding out who the other person is and if they complement who you are.
If you are still making some self-discovery or are in a period of low self-esteem and questioning your worth, you have the potential to attract the type of partner who could take advantage of your vulnerabilities.
With your professional contacts, being confident in who you are is going to be quite advantageous.
When you have more love for yourself than doubt, you will be able to operate with a level of self-confidence that supports professional success and boundaries.
Burnout is something that, as of late, has become a strong topic of conversation, and typically, those that fall victim to burnout have trouble setting and asserting boundaries with the people that they have professional relationships with.
It is also true that some bosses and superiors can suck the life out of even the most self-loving, boundary-forward person, so each case will be subjective.
And what about the people that you have a relationship with that are neither romantic nor professional?
Your friends and family are arguably the people that know you the best. These are humans that you have elected to include in your circle and share an intimate bond with.
Specifically, with family, these people have known you for the longest time and have had the pleasure of seeing you grow and evolve. Your self-esteem is directly correlated to those that you decide to allow to be close to you, so pay attention to the type of love and energy you give and receive around your chosen crowd.
Using affirmations to increase love of self
Daily affirmations are a terrific way to put yourself first and be sure that increasing the amount in which you love yourself is something you are actively focused on and working towards each and every day.
What is an affirmation?
Affirmations are tools that you can use to replace any negative thoughts or emotions with positive ones.
Usually, short sentences that are unique to you, your goals, and your life, affirmations serve as a free guide to help you navigate the roads towards increasing self-esteem and fostering success and positivity in intentional ways within your life.
Examples of affirmations
Here are a few examples of affirmations you can adopt into your daily routine to help you understand that you are worthy of love and deserve to feel it from yourself.
- I am worthy of love
- My flaws do not define me
- I am comfortable in my own skin
- I am enough
- I believe in progress, not perfection
- Today I choose empathy
- It is not selfish to love yourself
- I won’t forget about the one person that truly matters
- My self-esteem is my priority
- Self respect is my priority
- I am grateful for all the things I have
The best thing about an affirmation is that it is created by you, specifically for you. And even if you were to select one from a previously created list, you may still handpick it to serve you and your well being.
When you include affirmations in your daily life, there are a few ways to do so. You can add them into your routine and practice them at the same time and place each day.
Or you can have some pre-loaded positive affirmations to reach for when you are experiencing anxiety or in the midst of a stressful situation that is common in your life. Or both!
How to create your own
Now that you have the basic framework and purpose, you can spend time designing your own affirmations and start putting them to use every day.
The first step is to identify the negative so that you can counteract it with a positive. That can look something like this:
Negative thought – My life is boring
Positive opposite affirmation – I will find moments of excitement in each day.
After you have identified what you need to affirm, pay attention to the length of your sentiment and be sure that it is not too long. You want to be concise so that there is not too much ‘fluff’ around the main purpose of your affirmation.
Each one should be written in the present tense and should also be specific to you, using ‘me’ ‘I’ or ‘my’ type vocabulary. Remember, these are YOUR affirmations, not someone else’s, so you should be reciting them as if they not only belong to you but are already active and present.
There is an element of gratitude that exists within affirmation writing and reciting. You are training your mind and soul to identify a target and work towards it by acting as if you have already achieved it.
Myths and misconceptions
Unfortunately, as with everything, there will always be some doubters that work tirelessly to talk you out of being a person who loves themselves. Some common myths and misconceptions about people with high self-esteem are that they are selfish, think they are perfect, and are self-absorbed.
Choose not to listen to those who believe you shouldn’t be bettering yourself. Your past is a lesson but looking forward to your dreams and engaging in your passion matter.
Disadvantages of not loving yourself
While it is true that this is not a cure-all, there are some disadvantages to be aware of if you do not make it a priority to focus on building and maintaining positive self-esteem.
You may not ever experience any of these, or you may experience all of them. Regardless it is always helpful to understand the bigger picture and recognize all angles.
When your feelings towards yourself are not sourced from love, you may experience:
- Financial adversity as a result of trying to fix emotional problems with tangible goods
- Falling victim to predators who seek to overpower and control others
- Anger towards yourself or others
- A loss of self-identity
Don’t be afraid of this list. Instead, let it motivate you to avoid it at all costs.
This is your life, and you deserve for it to be full of love. The kind that starts inside yourself and radiates into every other aspect of your day-to-day.
Happiness is not always self-created, but that is always an option. Even just one moment taken out of every day to celebrate who you are and why you are special and deserving can greatly impact how you view and treat yourself overall.