As part of our Mental Health Mondays: Love Series, we will look at four different types of love (self love, romantic love, agape love, and philia love). We wanted to highlight self love first. Continue reading to find out ways to improve your love of self.
"How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you." - Rupi Kaur
Self love is one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes it's uncomfortable putting that level of care and attention into yourself, and it's just easier to put it into others. While there is nothing wrong with loving others and helping them with their needs, it can become problematic when you start to neglect yourself. Here are 5 things that you can do to improve your self love:
1. Create Healthy Boundaries
Usually when people hear this word, they cringe; however, having healthy boundaries is not impossible. Healthy boundaries include a balance of saying yes and no, as well as knowing your limit in any given situation. Without these healthy boundaries, you can easily become stressed out, burned out, overwhelmed, irritable, and so on. To improve your self love in the area of healthy boundaries, you can do one of two things: (1) work on saying no if you do not have the mental and emotional capacity to take on more or (2) work on saying yes to something you haven't done in a while (i.e., girl's trip, guys night, traveling, etc.). Work on finding a balance between your yes and no, remove any excess responsibilities from your plate, and/or reduce your involvement in the lives of others. Try to consider your needs first before considering the needs of others.
2. Take Yourself on a Date
I find it interesting to hear people give their opinion on going out by themselves. One of the most common opinions is "it's weird" or "I don't want people looking at me thinking I'm by myself". Oddly enough, taking yourself out and treating yourself is a form of self love. You get to go where you want to go, eat what you want to eat, and do what you want to do. You don't have to take into account anyone else's opinion and that's the point. Your focus in solely on you, not anyone else. If you want to improve your self love this way, hold no expense in how you treat yourself. If you want to take yourself to Jamaica, then go. If you want to eat at the most expensive restaurant on earth, do it. Don't wait on someone to treat you the way you want to be treated. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
In the same way that we can show kindness to others, we can also show that same kindness to ourselves. We can tell other people what we like or love about them, but sometimes have difficulty telling ourselves. To improve your self love this way, work on discovering what you like and/or love about yourself. Highlight your strengths, what you do well, your gifts, your talents, etc. It's nice when others can pinpoint good qualities in you; it's remarkable when you can do that for yourself. Spend some time learning how to be kind to yourself. Remove negative labels placed by others or yourself. Implement positive self-talk.
4. Accepting the Imperfections
This one is very similar to the previous, requiring kindness and compassion for yourself. As much as I hate to say it, bullying has been around for centuries, and I still see it today. People will pick on others because they look different, sound different, and are different. Being bullied can make you feel like you don't belong or that you're less than. It can also cause you to start looking at your imperfections and either hiding them or changing them. Rest assured, we all have some imperfections. Some people have big heads, some are short and fat, some have longer torsos than others, and the list continues. The point is is that everybody has something that is imperfect about them BUT some of us have learned to accept the imperfections because it makes us unique. If you want to improve your self-love this way, look at what you may be self-conscious about and work on being a little more kind and compassionate to yourself in those areas.
5. Having a Self Love Playlist
Music has been known to have an influence on our mood. If you listen to a sad song, you're more likely to start feeling sad. So if you listen to a song about loving yourself, you are more likely to start feeling love for yourself. Here are just a few of our favorites (not in any particular order), but definitely feel free to add your own: "I Love Me Better Than That" by Shirley Murdock; "Feeling Myself" by Nicki Minaj; "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone; "Who You Are" by Jessie J; "Unpretty" by TLC; and "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera.
Self love is a journey (especially if you are just now learning how to show yourself love). It takes being patient, being kind and compassionate, and being honest with yourself. Know your limits on what you're willing to take on and accept and what you're not. Self love is not prideful or even selfish; it is simply not neglecting yourself or your needs. Just as you put value on and in to others, put value on and in to yourself.
Bree Vanley is the CEO of Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Arkansas who focuses primarily on anxiety, depression, and trauma. She is committed to helping others become mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally healthy. For more information, please click here. You can also follow Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC on Facebook and Instagram.