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People-pleasing is a losing battle. When you focus on self-love and self-compassion rather than trying to get others to love you, you build your self-esteem and break codependent patterns so you can form healthier, happier relationships—with yourself and others.
Loving yourself can be one of the hardest, yet most important things you’ll ever do.
What does it mean to love yourself? And how do you actually love yourself?
For various reasons, many of us find it easier to love others than to love ourselves. Sometimes we’re truly quite awful to ourselves. We subject ourselves to a harsh inner critic, unhealthy relationships, toxic substances, and self-mutilation. I know how easy it is to dwell on your own perceived inadequacies.
But regardless of the reasons for your lack of self-love, it’s time to start caring for yourself and treating yourself with the same love that you give to others.
Loving yourself isn’t selfish, as many fear. Not only does it improve your relationship with yourself, but it shows others how to love you.
You are the one person that you’ll always be with. So, it’s important that you enjoy your own company, can trust yourself, and recognize your good qualities.
Your relationship with yourself is the most important and longest relationship you’ll ever have. It’s worth spending the time and effort to develop a more loving relationship with yourself.
Below, is my list of 22 ways to love yourself. Many are simple and straight-forward. Some are harder. You don’t have to use all of these ideas, but you’ll find many overlap and work nicely together.
22 Ways to love yourself
1. Know yourself. It’s impossible to love yourself if you don’t even know who you are. Invest in discovering what you believe, value, and like.
Read more about getting to know yourself: 26 Questions to Help You Know Yourself Better.
2. Say “no” when you need to. Boundaries are an essential form of self-care because they let others know that you deserve and expect respect.
Read more about setting boundaries: 10 Tips for Healthy Boundaries.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others. Others aren’t better or worse, more or less than you; They’re just different. You have value just as you are and accepting yourself means there’s no need for comparisons.
Read more about avoiding comparisons: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: 3 Tips for Letting Go.
4. Be truly present. Our lives are full of distractions. Many of these things are fun and worthwhile, but they can be draining and keep us from truly knowing and being ourselves.
Read more about mindfulness: Mindfulness: A Tool for Self-Acceptance.
5. Know and use your strengths. We all have tremendous gifts, but many of them go unnoticed. When you’re busy and distracted it’s hard to access these great qualities. Focusing on your strengths will increase your positive feelings for yourself.
6. Give yourself a treat. A treat is something special that you just give yourself. Unlike a reward, it doesn’t have to be earned. Be good to yourself by giving yourself treats “just because”.
7. Be honest with yourself. This one can be harder than it seems. Some of us as so good at self-deception that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Honesty is key in all relationships and your relationship with yourself is no different.
Clearly, you can’t love your entire messy self if you’re lying, minimizing, or making excuses. True self-love means taking responsibility and accountability.
Read more: Learning to Trust Yourself Again.
8. Let yourself off the hook for your mistakes and imperfections. You’re hard on yourself. You’re probably harder on yourself than anybody else. Cut yourself some slack and embrace your humanness. Mistakes are normal. Imperfections are part of what makes you, you.
Read more: Seeking Self-Forgiveness.
9. Work on forgiving yourself for the bigger stuff. Sometimes we’re holding onto bigger regrets or transgressions. Self-forgiveness is a process of bit by bit believing you truly did the best you could.
Today you could do better, of course. Hindsight really is 20/20, which is why it’s completely unfair to judge your past self with the knowledge you have now. Remember: “When we know better we do better”.
10. Accept that some people won’t like you. That’s right, some people don’t like you and that’s O.K. Don’t waste your time trying to please people who are impossible to please or people who just aren’t that important to you.
Being yourself means you have to give up your people-pleasing ways and embrace your authentic self.
Read more about people-pleasing: The Problem with People-Pleasing.
11. Make fun a priority. Put something fun on your agenda every week. Don’t neglect it or cancel because you have too much work to do or your kiddo needs help with his history report. Just like rest, we all need fun in order to feel good. Don’t skimp on this important need.
Read more: Discover What’s Fun for You (and Why It Matters).
12. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is one of the simplest ways to focus on the good in yourself and in your life. Try identifying 3 things you’re grateful for when you wake up every morning.
You can try using these gratitude journal prompts to get started.
13. Write down your successes. I love this self-love activity because it creates a record of your accomplishments (big and small) that you can re-read whenever you’re feeling low. Add to it and read your list on a daily basis for maximum benefit.
14. Feel your feelings. Our feelings are an integral part of who we are. You can’t be an authentic person without acknowledging and feeling all of your feelings.
Don’t shy away from uncomfortable feelings like anger and sadness. If you deny them, you deny a part of yourself. Allow yourself to express them in a healthy, respectful way.
Read more about feeling your feelings or watch the short video below.
15. Take good care of your body. Good health is truly priceless. Give yourself the gift of feeling physically well – exercise regularly, eat healthfully, drink water, get 7-8 hours of sleep most nights, and limit alcohol or other drugs.
16. Pursue a hobby. Hobbies can be fun, relaxing, challenging, creative, athletic, social, or educational. As you can see, different hobbies meet different needs for us. Find something that meets your needs.
17. Stand up for yourself. Like boundaries, being assertive is a way of showing others that your opinions and needs matter. Loving yourself means you know your value and can communicate it to others.
18. Write yourself a love letter. I know this is a hard assignment, but it really challenges you to identify the things you like about yourself.
19. Ask for help when you need it. Another part of taking care of yourself is recognizing when you need help. Help isn’t weak. It’s human. We all need help at times.
20. Speak kindly to yourself. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a loved one. Don’t cut yourself down, call yourself names, or criticize yourself.
Read more about being kinder to yourself in this article: Stop Blaming Yourself for Everything.
21. Surround yourself with people who treat you with kindness and respect. Who you spend time with reflects how you feel about yourself. People who feel worthy surround themselves with positive people. Sometimes loving yourself means you have to end relationships with abusive or unkind people.
22. Allow yourself some downtime. Are you busy, busy, busy? It’s time to slow down and allow your body and mind to rest. You don’t have to do it all. Prioritize what matters most and let go of any guilt you might have about saying no. Rest is rejuvenating and a basic form of self-care.
To learn more, read my tips for people who struggle to prioritize self-care.
Which of these ideas will you try? I recommend starting with the activities that seem easiest to you. (It’s important to set yourself up for success when you start something new.)
Practice one or two self-love activities for a week or two and then try one of the more challenging ways to yourself. You can build your repertoire of self-love activities over time.
And as you practice and build them into your routine, they will feel more natural and won’t take as much thought or effort.
Graphics and article ©2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
Read More About Self-Love
- 18 Quotes to Inspire Self-Love
- Learning to Love Yourself
- Self-Abandonment: What It Is and How to Stop
- CBT Workbook for Perfectionism
Purchase a Print-Ready 8.5X11 PDF
22 Ways to Love Yourself
Enjoy this short video to learn even more about self-love!
The Self-Love Guided Journal
I created the Self-Love Guided Journal to help you rediscover who you are, accept yourself – imperfections and all, and learn to treat yourself with kindness. It includes reflective questions, journal prompts, inspirational quotes, and a healing meditation to help you develop positive thoughts and feelings about yourself. Find out more by clicking HERE.