There are plenty of things in your life that you love—your family, friends, pets, or even a treasured pastime are all worthy of your adoration. It’s easy to find it in your heart to love them, but you might not be saving some of that love for the most important person in your life: you. Putting yourself on the back burner and giving all your attention to others probably isn’t something you think much about because it just comes so naturally and feels selfless.
Cultivating passion for yourself, however, seems much more difficult, and it’s almost instinctual the way you might minimize your feelings and accomplishments. Learning how to love yourself is an important journey that can lead you to a better, more positive way of living, and you don’t need to change yourself—just how you see yourself—to reap all the benefits. Take a look at some of these ideas for boosting your self-confidence to learn how to let love surround you.
Honor Your Feelings
This isn’t about self-pity or dwelling on the mistakes of your past. When you want to learn who you are, it’s important to recognize how things make you feel, and it’s even more important to let yourself feel those feelings without passing any judgment about them. Accepting your feelings is an important first step towards accepting yourself in turn.
Recognize Thought Patterns
One reason why you might not love yourself is that you always allow your mind to settle on negative thoughts. If your first inclination is to think about how you said or did something wrong or to put yourself down, it’s time to start changing this habit. Be more aware of your thoughts. When you catch yourself starting to think something hurtful, stop immediately, and consciously replace it with a positive thought about what you did right. Another great way to reinforce this is to practice it regarding the words you say aloud, too. If you’re about to say something gossipy, pause, think for a minute, and turn your words into an optimistic comment. If you do make a mistake, don’t jump to destructive conclusions, either. Remind yourself that you’re only human and that you can turn your error into a useful learning experience.
Sometimes, hearing spoken words can give you that little boost you need to keep going and feel great. Write down a list of all your positive attributes—ask for help from a trusted friend if you don’t know what to write—and use present tense “I am” statements. At the beginning or end of each day, read the list aloud to yourself and think about how each point represents a reason why you deserve love. Try to add one new reason each week.
When you’re just starting out on the path to self-love, it’s important to give yourself enough time to really sit and process your thoughts. Stop assuming that someone else’s time is more valuable or deserving of attention than your own. Acknowledge that you’ve given yourself permission to indulge in something that you find pleasurable, no matter what the activity is. Taking time also means it’s important to set aside an occasion to really celebrate yourself. If you did something great, don’t just write it off. Get yourself a little reward, go for a massage, or take yourself out for your favorite meal. This helps reinforce the idea that you’re invaluable to yourself and others.
Plan for Negativity
This doesn’t mean you should assume you’re going to slip back into your non-loving ways. What it does mean is that you need to formulate a game plan to turn to when you’re having a rough day and nothing seems to be getting you out of your sad funk. It’s normal to have an off day, but you don’t want it to turn into an off week or an off month. When you have a course of action, you can follow it back to positivity. Helpful solutions include removing yourself from the presence of a negative stressor or internally countering negative statements with positive ones about yourself.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
You know those people in your life whom you just can’t help but smile at when you’re around them? They’re there for you, and you can learn a lot from their attitudes. You can’t always control external sources of negativity—work is a common one—but you can choose the friends and family you spend your time with. This is a great way to offset an unhealthy situation and recast your energy in a positive light. Seek out people who are loving, self-confident, and supportive. Doing this sends your mind a signal that you are worth being loved.
Loving yourself is just as fulfilling as loving others. When you start to focus on the good and subtly shift all those negative habits you’ve built over the years, you can enjoy improved self-confidence, a higher vision of your self-worth, and a truer understanding of how valuable you are to the people who love you. Start small, and you’ll soon become a powerful, self-assured force.