“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you’re gonna love somebody else?” – RuPaul
We live in a world that tells us to put our own needs last and that we need to seek validation from other people.
You may have heard “you have to love yourself before you can expect someone else to love you,” and I’m here to say that this rule is really true! Self-love is essential for creating any healthy (emphasis on healthy), sustainable relationship with another person or people.
If you scoff at this principle, let me explain why it’s legit. Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which essentially qualifies what we need in order to survive and thrive as humans, starting with basic biological needs like drinking water and eating food, all the way up to self-actualization, or fulfilling your goals and seeking personal growth. What I want to emphasize here is that you have to take care of your own needs in all of these areas before you can take care of anyone else’s, and that’s the entire premise behind this tool. You can’t be expected to grow food for others if you’re starving yourself, or keep someone safe if you’re in danger. You have to take care of you, first and foremost!
Another way of looking at this would be the safety instructions you hear when you fly on an airplane about oxygen masks. You probably already know them without me telling you, but the flight attendants will always tell you to put your own mask on before you assist others around you. The same principle applies to love.
See what I mean? Love is a need that we all have, but we can’t expect other people to give us love if we aren’t giving it to ourselves. You also can’t expect to truly love another until you love and accept yourself; you can’t give what you don’t have.
Self-love isn’t something that we can really measure, but there are some common indicators you can look for to see if you’re loving yourself enough:
Do you constantly find yourself in relationships with abusive or unappreciative people?
Do you find yourself usually being the one who is more interested in other people?
Do you wonder why people don’t flock to you?
Do you feel like you’ve been stabbed in the heart if someone criticizes you?
Can you not bear the thought of someone not liking you?
Answering yes to more than a few of these questions indicates that you probably need a healthy dose of self-love! If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up or feel bad about not fully appreciating yourself — it’s not your fault. We live in a world that tells us to put our own needs last and that we need to seek validation from other people. It’s only natural that so many of us feel like we don’t measure up.
We can all work on loving ourselves a little, or a lot, more than we do now. Here are a few tips on how you can bring some more self-love into your life:
1. Say “I Love You.”
I read a lot about people who do a certain exercise: You look into a mirror, into your own eyes, and say “I love you” to yourself. It probably will feel silly or embarrassing at first, but doing this consistently for a few weeks or a month is sure to bring about some internal shift. Why shouldn’t we tell ourselves that we’re loved, especially when we’ll do the same for others almost without thinking?
2. Find Out All The Ways You’re Awesome
If you’re struggling to find lovable qualities about yourself, literally sit down and make a list of all the ways you rock. Think about all of your positive attributes, characteristics, charitable acts, talents, skills, and achievements. You can even keep a running list that you add to and look at when you’re feeling down.
3. Use Your Own Love Language
You may have heard of the Five Love Languages, which is a book and theory created by Gary Chapman that says there is a method of communication that you respond to best in receiving love. Although it’s usually thought of as being a methodology to use for couples, there’s no reason you can’t use it yourself! For instance, my love language is quality time, so if I want to show myself some love, I’ll spend some quality time with myself, engaging in activities that fulfill me and uplift me. One way I do this is by taking a day off in the middle of the week that I can use for fun and restoration.
4. Pump Yourself Up
A great way to reinforce your own self-love is to do things you’re good at and enjoy doing. It could be anything from going for a run to writing a poem, anything that gets your juices flowing and you feel passionate about. I guarantee it will help you to gain clarity in how lovable you are!
5. Use Affirmations
Finally, a great way to get into the self-love flow is to use affirmations on a regular basis, and put positive self-talk into your subconscious mind. You could write them down, say them aloud, or just think them to yourself. The point is to say things to and about yourself that are positive in order to shape your mindset in a positive direction.
Remember, the most important thing is to honor yourself, before anyone else, and in whatever way you find resonates with you the most.
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Be open and give a chance to anyone who contacts you. Don’t judge by appearances before you actually get to know a person. Take time and have enough patience to discover people for whom they are and love might strike from the unexpected