Why Do You Need To Love Yourself First?
“It’s not anyone’s job to make you feel good about yourself. It can only come from you.”
If you’re searching for validation (and love) externally, you’re looking in the wrong place.
The likes you receive on Instagram and Facebook, the reassuring comments from your family friends or colleagues telling you that you’re doing outstanding work, are compliments from outsiders. Sure, they make you feel good and they’re mood-boosters, but heavily relying on others to improve your self-esteem is a slippery slope.
These examples are neither sustainable nor abundant sources of love. Here comes the cliched truth — you need to love yourself first.
‘You have got to learn to love yourself!’ is what I learnt.
“Why is self-love important?” you might ask. For many of us, self-love might sound like a luxury rather than a necessity — or a new-age fad for those with too much time on their hands.
Ironically, however, self-care and compassion might actually be needed most by those of us who work too hard and who are constantly striving to surpass ourselves and grasp the shape-shifting phantasm of perfection.
Most of the time, when we’re being too hard on ourselves, we do it because we’re driven by a desire to excel and do everything right, all the time. This entails a lot of self-criticism, and that persecutory inner voice that constantly tells us how we could’ve done things better is a hallmark of perfectionism.
Low self esteem and issues related to self worth were a part of my life’s initial phase when there was absence of self love. I was prone to getting hurt easily as my love was only for others, never for myself.
Back then, I misconstrued self love for being selfish. However, with time, I was made aware of the existence of a very thin line between self love and selfishness and how important it is to love myself.
Cue the changes in my life..
As I later learnt, great things don’t happen overnight but are instead the result of a little bit of effort over an extended period of time. Like tiny stitches of hope, through self-exploration, change is possible.
So up I got, dusted myself off and slowly worked on loving myself. Yet, how to even begin? For starters, I have learnt that to practice self-love, the first step is to accept myself as I am, with open, loving arms. I discovered as I came out the other end of the process that self-love is one of the most life-changing habits you can hope to manifest. To accept yourself fully, unconditionally and with gratitude, rocks on so many levels.
Self-love isn’t about being arrogant or not caring about others. It is instead simply about caring for yourself. Yet, I feel so many of us can forget to do that and end up putting ourselves last.
So here are five ways, to practice self-love and acceptance:
1. Believe That You Are Good Enough
Easier said than done if you don’t yet know how to feel self-love, but a little bit of effort daily can soon help you realise that you indeed are good enough and then some more!
Method: Purchase a small notebook and pen. Next, take note of all your self-talk for a whole day and night, that internal dialogue we can so often use to narrate our lives. Make a note of any times you put yourself down. For example, you may look in the mirror and think to yourself — I am ugly, not good enough etc. Whatever comes up, just keep writing it down.
The next day, read through everything that you have written. You may be shocked at how you speak to yourself. The good news is that can change. So on the next page, re-write every negative comment into a positive. If you put ‘I am not good enough’ change it to ‘I am good enough.’ Do this for every comment.
Now as you go about your life, be the watcher of your thoughts. If you ever catch yourself bullying yourself, take a breath and rethink the thought as a kinder more nurturing one.
2. Mirror Work
Bring yourself in front of the mirror every day. Yes, show yourself some self-love by showering yourself with compliments and affirmations. Even if you don’t feel it, start up. If you are stuck for affirmations, look on the internet for ideas. I like to say: ‘I am divinely perfect as I am.’
3. Date Your Own Self
Yep, you heard me! Go on a special date with yourself. It’s a good way of getting to know yourself and what you really like. The more you know yourself, the easier it will be for you to love yourself and for others to follow suit. Ideas are: taking a walk, catching a yoga class, cinema, shopping, reading a book at home. I suggest doing this at least twice a month. If you are busy, even taking out half an hour shows a sense of love and appreciation.
4. Open Your Heart
Use heart-opening yoga exercises to lift your happiness. Poses like The Bridge, The Wheel, Camel and Cresent Moon can lift the spirits, open our heart chakra and also the chest area. Try adding these poses to your normal yoga sequence, and as you do them think of at least one thing you like about yourself.
5. Feel-Good Vibes
Shower yourself with them!
We have far more power than we often realise to generate the feelings we want to experience in life, no matter where we are or what’s going on around us. We just have to learn how to tap into those feelings. An easy way to do it is to think back to a time in your life where you felt full of joy, happiness, peace or fulfilment — whatever it is you want to feel — and then find a photo of you from that time that really reminds you of what it was like to feel that way, so much so that you start to feel that way again just by looking at the photo.
Now put that photo somewhere where you’ll see it every day: save it as your phone screensaver or print it out and stick it up on your bathroom mirror. Whenever you need a boost to your day, take a look at that picture and let yourself bathe in those feel-good vibes.
Remember, no one is perfect; we all make mistakes, so simply learn from them and try not to repeat. Also, love and accept yourself without any conditions. There is absolutely no one more loveable than you!
So next time you feel that you’re lacking the self-love vibes, try one of the suggestions above.
Buddha rightly says ‘You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.’