Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. And the hardest work there is. Sometimes, the road can seem too long and the task too daunting. Where do you begin? Here are 14 tips to get your started:
1. Make a list of your strengths
We all tend to sell ourselves shorts, concentrating on our weakness and failures rather than our strengths and our successes. But we all have positive qualities and gifts that makes us unique and can make the world a better place. Grab a piece of paper and write them all down. You can also ask your friends what they love about you. We focus too much on the nasty comments we receive, so it’d be a great confidence booster to discover what great things others really think of us.
2. Reach out to other people. Even strangers.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends about how you’re really feeling. Everyone can feel sad, confused, and lost at times. Dealing with those feelings alone will only make things worse and may even make you fall into depression. Your friends will be more than happy to offer you support. Also, don’t be afraid to show support to your friends, your family, or anyone else in your life. Listen to people, care about them, engage with them. Even with strangers. We’re told early to be scared of people we don’t know, but strangers can be friends you haven’t met yet. You’ll never know until you reach out to them.
3. Go on media fasts
The media is everywhere. And it is constantly telling us that we’re not good enough and scaring us with all the horrific things that are going on in the world, making us think it’s a much more dangerous place that it really is and that we don’t have what it takes to succeed, or even just survive, in it. Escaping these messages completely is impossible, but you can reduce the amount of media you consume by going on media fasts. Choose a day a week to stay away from television, magazines, social media, and even the internet. Instead, live in the real world, go out, talk to real people, or even spend some time alone, getting to know yourself. You’ll discover the world isn’t such a bad place after all, and that lots of the things the media has taught us to worry about aren’t really that important. And if you really can’t stay away from media altogether, chose to watch programmes or read articles that make you feel better, not worse, about yourself.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
It’s called comfort zone for a reason. It’s cozy and comfortable in there. But fear of the unknown, or simply of what people may say if you do something different, will prevent you from growing and becoming the person that you are truly meant to be and doing what you really want to do. So get out of your comfort zone and do something new. It can be something as simple as dying your hair a unusual colour or wearing a red lipstick. Or you can enrol into a new course. Learn a new skill. Take a short trip on your own. Find something you’d like to do, and then just do it.
5. Surround yourself with positive people
The world is full of pessimists who always see the glass half empty, find fault with anything, and are just never happy. While you shouldn’t eliminate them from your life completely, hang around with them less. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who believe it is possible to make your dreams come true, appreciate the little joys in life, and find something to be grateful for in every situation, no matter how bleak it seems. It’ll remind you how good people really are.
6. Take some time for yourself
Work. Study. Children. Friends. Household chores. We have so many obligations these days that we often feel worn out. Taking some time just to yourself can seem selfish when you have so many things to do, but you won’t be able to help others and work your best when you’re exhausted. So grab a book and read. Meditate. Have a relaxing bath. Find the time every day to do whatever makes you feel centered and at peace, ready to face whatever challenges life throws at you.
Choose a cause that is close to your heart and help out. You can donate your time, your skills, your money, and even your influence. People will appreciate and be grateful for your help, and you will be feel much better for contributing to make the world a better place.
8. Stop judging people
It’s easy to judge people, especially when they do something you don’t agree with, or they’re constantly shoving their perfect lives down your throat on social media. But the truth is, you don’t know what really goes on in their lives, how hard they worked to get where they are, or what challenges they are currently facing. Judging other people tells more about your character than it does about them. And it teaches you to judge yourself just as harshly. You’ll never be happy if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, find fault with them, and are jealous and envious of them.
9. Forgive yourself
We all have things we regret. We all wish we had done some things differently. We all make mistakes. Don’t let them define you. Forgive yourself. Leave them in the past. Move on.
10. Find a mantra
Find a mantra and repeat it several times a day, or whenever you start feeling bad about yourself. I use “even though [insert whatever it's wrong here], I completely love and accept myself”. I also like “I am thankful for what I have, even if it’s not perfect.” So powerful!
11. Dress up
Too often we chose how to dress based on the people we want to impress. We may wear something sexy to impress a date, or buy a certain brand of sneakers to be accepted by a peer group. But you’ll never be happy by pretending to be something you are not. And soon, your friends or date will realise that you were just pretending anyway. Instead, be yourself. Dress up for yourself. Wear what you like. What makes you feel confident and beautiful. Please yourself, not others.
12. Stay away from your scales
There was a time, when I was younger, when I’d weight myself every week. I’d rejoice when I’d lost some weight, and feel crappy when I gained some. Then, one day I just stopped. It’s so liberating not to focus on how much you weight all the time. Now I can’t even remember when I weighted myself last. Instead, I just go by how my clothes fit and how good I feel. As long as I’m healthy and happy, the number on the scales doesn’t really matter. So, don’t look at it.
13. Listen to uplifting music
Music is a powerful motivator that can instantly change your mood. Whenever I feel down, or start doubting myself, I listen to a playlist of uplifting songs I built over the years. It features inspirational tracks such as Beautiful by Christina Aguilera, Hall of Fame by The Script ft Will.I.Am, and Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked. You don’t have to listen to these, though. You can find inspirational songs in every genre of music. And when you do, sing along. Dance along. Even play along, if you have a guitar or drums (or make your own with some chopsticks and boxes). You’ll feel better straight away.
14. Wear a tiara
Seriously. Get a tiara and wear it at breakfast. Or in the bath tub. Or whenever you feel like it. It’ll instantly make you feel glamorous and amazing.
What are your favourite self-love tips?