What does self-love even mean? When I got sober, I could barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. If there was such a thing called self-love, it didn’t exist in me. During my first year of sobriety I heard all these coined phrases over and over again. “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself,” or “you really ought to love yourself more,” and then there was always, “once you love yourself everything else will fall into place.” I think if one more person told me to go “love myself,” I would have vomited. When I thought of self-love I immediately went to cucumber masks and bubble baths and manicures and pedicures, but boy was I wrong.
I started to think back. I was always taught to care for others and to put their need’s before myself. Was self-love conceited? What would other’s think of me if I was devoting more time to myself? The problem is that we’ve been taught for a long time that if we’re not constantly working hard or taking care of others, we’re being selfish.
However, through time, patience and lots of unnecessary self-hatred, I’ve learned that self-love accompanies living well. It cannot be put into a box or bought in a store. It cannot define itself as eyelash extensions or a new haircut. A new relationships can’t make you love yourself more, in fact, it can do quite the opposite. Even if we land the best partner on the planet, this person won’t be able to make us happy and feel loved unless we create the space for it inside by practicing self-love. This is why self-love is an inside job.
Self-love grows from actions that support our growth. It is accepting our weaknesses as well as our strengths. It is having compassion for ourselves as we continue to grow and find our life’s passions. Self-love is not a destination or a singular event. It is a practice that requires time and patience with ourselves. It can be the foundation on which we build a happy and stable life.
7 Steps To Self-Love
Pay Attention To Your Thoughts
I find that when I feel my lowest, my mind is bombarded with the most-self deprecating thoughts. I found that I am so darn mean to myself. “You’re a failure.” “You will never amount to anything in life.” “Nobody will ever love you.” If someone else isn’t allowed to say those things to me, then why should I be able to say those nasty things to me? Imagine if someone said to a kid what you say to yourself? It would be terrible, right? I can start to counter-act these thoughts. After all – they aren’t true! “I am successful.” “I am living up to my full potential everyday.” If I start counting how many of these thoughts I have a day, the number is sure to go down.
Support Is Key
Those “friends” you had in your using days? I hate to break it to you, but they weren’t friends. They were using buddies and you may need to ask yourself if they will really be there for you when times get tough. As much as we would like to think, we can’t do everything ourselves. Positive energy is contagious. Find friends that value you for you and vice-versa. Stick around people who are building themselves up on a daily basis.
As human’s we often have non-human standards for ourselves. Often times, we are way too hard on ourselves. Before we can truly love ourselves we must accept where we are at. Often times when we make mistakes, we must remember that mistakes are signs for growth. Practice being less hard on yourself when you do make a mistake. Nobody is perfect.
No, I’m not talking about a bubble bath and a cheesy rom-com on a Saturday night. Self-care in aspects of your life like physical well-being (going for a run, eating nutritious foods), emotional well-being (seeing a therapist, venting to a good friend), and spiritual well-being (meditation, go on a spiritual retreat, church, etc.). If we incorporate these beneficial practices into our daily lives, we are sure to reap the benefits of feeling good and on our way to self-love – because, after all, we deserve it.
Find What You Love
Living with purpose and design allows you to accept and love yourself even more. Find your passions! Try new things. Create intentions. Live purposefully. If we can fully immerse ourselves in the experience of life, we can accept ourselves for where we are at, ultimately creating self-love.
What good did comparing yourself to others ever do for you? How many of us have ever browsed through social media comparing ourselves to photo-shopped pictures and looks we wished we had? We have thoughts like, “I wish I was skinnier, or more muscular, or better looking like him or her.” When we do this we just set ourselves up for criticism and end up in a victim role to ultimately feel bad about ourselves. You must remind yourself that you are perfect exactly how you are. Being in this pattern of comparing only allows you to focus on the negative, when there is so much to be positive about.
What DO You Have?
Do you find yourself wishing you had that better laptop or new car? Maybe you’re feeling down or lonely because you wish you had a significant other and you’ve been searching but found no luck. When this happen’s those self-deprecating thoughts start to slide in and we continue to put ourselves down. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have appreciate what you do have. I have a roof over my head, my recovery, a loving family, a car, a job, and great friends.
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