7 ways to start loving yourself

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

by Iris Neubecker****

“I love myself.” 

Three simple words, yet some of the hardest to say, let alone comprehend. 

To many, the phrase may sound arrogant or selfish, but to others, the term acts as a victory to one of our most challenging battles.

 It took me 19 years to be able to say “I love myself” with actual meaning. 

Unfortunately, we aren’t created with a self-love switch, yet instead with complex emotion and judgment, making the process of self-love even more difficult. 

Nevertheless, saying the three complex words, “I love myself,” is the best thing you can do for your health, relationships, confidence and motivation

While self-love is a journey, here are seven steps to getting started.

Tighten your inner circle

We live in a world where the concept that “bigger is better” is portrayed in almost everything we do. However, when it comes to your friend group, this is not always the case. High school has taught many of us that a bigger friend group includes more judgment and drama – neither of which is healthy for your mental state. In fact, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report, our brains limit the number of close friends in our lives to just five people. Being able to recognize and keep your inner circle limited to those who support, inspire and encourage you is the first step to loving yourself.

Give yourself affirmations

Give yourself credit! Rather than worrying about everything you need to change, take a moment and appreciate yourself. Write down everything you love about yourself, then reflect and add to it daily. According to the Oxford Academic, affirmations activate the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which are reward centers in the brain. Similar to how the reward centers in our brain respond to pleasurable experiences, we are wiring our minds to be more loving toward ourselves by writing ourselves affirmations. 

Set goals for yourself

Setting realistic goals will allow you to reach and celebrate milestones in your journey. No matter the size of the goal, write it down on a piece of paper! Those who vividly describe their goals are up to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish their goals. Being the organized person I am, I like to dedicate a journal for tracking my achievements. Keeping yourself responsible for a specific goal provides long term direction and short term motivation. 

Do one thing a day that scares you

By challenging yourself, you can see everything you are capable of doing. We allow the fear of failure and humiliation to stop us from living to our fullest potential. In other words, we allow fear to bully and eventually gain power over ourselves. When you do one thing a day that scares you, it builds courage and enables  control. By re-wiring your brain into understanding that you are courageous and resilient, you will begin to think of yourself as a more valuable person.

Forgive yourself 

We are our own harshest critics. Think about it. You’ll forgive a friend, significant other, or family member but not yourself. We allow our past to hang over our heads like dark clouds, making it nearly impossible to see the light. While we can’t change the past, we can acknowledge it for a better future. Research by Standford Medicine has shown that those who forgive themselves have better mental well-being, including healthier relationships and positive attitudes. 

Be your own best friend 

You are the most important person in your life. People come and go, but in the end, you will always have your true self. That may sound dramatic, but wouldn’t you instead love the person you’re stuck with? I never realized how important it was to be your own best friend until college. Lost without friends and direction, I was forced to be with my own thoughts, which was honestly a big fear of mine. As you make a best friend out of yourself, you’ll begin to realize that nothing outside should regulate your own happiness.  

Stop comparing yourself 

How many times have you opened Instagram only to  quickly close it in  search os a five-minute ab workout? The comparative nature of social media makes it even more challenging to love and accept yourself. We have reconstructed the idea of what is considered beautiful in our society through face tuning apps. We have tricked ourselves into believing our lives are not as enjoyable since we are only given a glimpse of others’ best moments. Being able to recognize and accept not everything seen on social media is a true reflection of the person will allow you to love your life and appearances more fluently. 

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