“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer
Too often, we consider self-love to be a selfish act.
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After all, isn’t it nobler to put others ahead of ourselves? Isn’t it conceited to put ourselves first?
The answer, unequivocally, is no.
Happiness and joy come from a nourished soul, and that nourishment begins with the self.
Learning to bear up under the weight of life’s problems can be a difficult task, and learning to love yourself and practice self-care is the fuel one uses to do it.
Steps Toward Being Able to Love Yourself
That’s all well and good, you may say, but what does it look like?
Self-love looks like different things to different people, and the specifics are personal to each individual.
But for someone just learning to nourish the inner self, there are starting points. Read on for ten ways to practice self-love.
Explore the Spirit
Even if you eschew organized religion, some find a spiritual practice to be deeply meaningful.
This could be attending a church, synagogue, or mosque for services and participating in a local faith community.
It could also be as simple as a personal practice and meditation, or lighting a candle at a nearby cathedral.
Spiritual practice does not need to take any one form to be fulfilling, and it does not have to come from a place of obligation or guilt. If it does, it’s not self-love.
Find a Community
“I thought this was about self-love! What do other people have to do with it?”
The truth is, humans are social creatures. We long for a community to share life with.
This is true even of introverts who prefer evenings in to nights on the town.
Appreciating solitude doesn’t mean you need to or should be alone all the time.
Whether in-person or online, find a group of like-minded people who surround you with positivity.
This group will help you as a sounding board for those overwhelming moments when you feel inadequate, and you will have the fulfillment of being that for other members.
You will also cultivate a sense of belonging that gives you a place to call “home”, even if only in a metaphysical sense.
Exercise Your No
Too often, we get caught up in the rush of life, unable to say no to all the responsibilities coming our way.
It’s a great way to be liked, but it’s also a good way to drown.
Take a step back and look at your life, and where your energy is allocated. Decided what is vital and what is not.
Decide what nourishes your soul and what does not.
Keep only the vital and soul-nourishing. Discard the rest.
Exercise Your Yes
I know, I know. Stay with me here.
After you’ve gotten rid of the excess baggage weighing down your life, you may be able to say yes to something you haven’t had time for.
Perhaps something new and exciting that you’ve been too afraid to try.
Maybe a new project that sparks your passion and creativity.
Maybe just that new restaurant with the cute server and fabulous wine menu.
Yes doesn’t have to be something huge and life-altering. Sometimes just taking a break from the busyness and saying yes to something with little real-world practicality is enough.
Make a Self-Love List
You can’t love yourself if you don’t know what makes you feel good.
Take a moment to sit and meditate on those things that make you feel your best.
Does the gym feed your spirit?
Does a squeaky clean house also give you a clean mind, ready for creative pursuits?
Does taking the time to take a walk daily give you fresh outlook?
Whatever it is, write it down. Think of five things that you truly love, and that make you feel happy and loved.
Then post that list somewhere ou will see it and commit to doing one of those thins every day.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Just stop it.
The rise of social media has made it so easy to compare our “mess” to other peoples “perfection”
Remember, as the poet said “people contain multitudes” and you rarely see every side to a person’s life.
Learning to love yourself is about learning to accept that you are who you are and that it is beautiful. No matter what is going on in that girl from high schools life.
Mindfulness is simply being aware of your thoughts and actions, and being present in the moment.
It means not fretting over tomorrow, and not letting mistakes of the past haunt you.
Simply allow yourself to be in the moment. Forethought has its place, but for the most part, your mind should be in the present.
This kind of thinking helps you stay centered, and keeps your brain from unnecessary worry or shame.
Mind Your Health
Drink the eight glasses of water. Eat an apple instead of chips. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Taking care of your body won’t just make you feel better physically. You will find yourself thinking more clearly, your mood lifted, and your spirits higher.
The mind and the body are intimately linked, and taking care of one carries over to the other.
Taking care of yourself physically is also a manifestation of your own opinions about yourself. Do you see yourself as worthy of care?
Learn to Let Go
We have all done things we regret.
We have all had things done to us that hurt.
Learning to let go of these things and releasing their hold on you is freeing.
Forgive yourself and those that have hurt you. Carrying around negativity does nothing but hurt you and prevents you from being able to fully love yourself.
Cultivate a Passion
Whether it is writing, painting, or horseback riding, rediscover the things that stir your soul into a passion.
Make intentional time for those things, and cultivate a skill that gives you joy.
It may seem difficult, especially if you are not in the habit of thinking positively about yourself.
But once you begin, you will find that loving yourself becomes second nature, as easy as breathing.