It is incredibly difficult to practice self-care, adopt healthy habits or build strong and healthy relationships with others if you don’t know how to love yourself properly or what it takes to love yourself.
And what it takes to love yourself is a pretty wide array of qualities and skills such as self-awareness, kindness, courage, faith, humility, and a certain level of discipline and self-control.
Looking back now, I understand why it was so difficult for me to take care of myself and love myself: I was lacking most of the qualities necessary for such an “achievement”.
“Loving yourself” is a pretty abstract and broad concept that is of no use to people who don’t love themselves and don’t know how or where to even begin. If you don’t love yourself and keep repeating to yourself that you simply “must” love yourself more… it won’t really help you move forward, will it?
Honestly though, what does it even mean, to love yourself? Does it mean you have to look in the mirror every day and tell yourself how amazing and hot you are?
Probably not. But beyond that, what does it take to love yourself?
True love, when it comes to loving yourself or others, is not as easy and romantic a concept as movies paint it to be. And it takes a certain array of qualities and skills to pull it off and help that love last.
I thought writing about what it takes to love yourself might give you, and me, some clues as to where to start exploring or where to begin improving yourself. If, of course, that’s something you’re interested in doing.
Also, loving yourself is essential to achieving healthier relationships with other people.
And so today, I will share here what I had to learn (and still am learning), to finally love myself more.
What does it take to love yourself?
If I were to summarize it all in one concept, I would say that what it takes to love yourself is acceptance. But acceptance is just as multi-faceted and abstract a concept as “loving yourself”.
And so, that’s what I’ll be trying to explore in the next paragraphs.
Loving yourself takes self-awareness
The first thing it takes to love yourself is self-awareness. Loving yourself as you truly are means, well, seeing yourself as you truly are.
Parenthesis: this, however, does not mean that you cannot or will not change. Who we “are” is not a fixed characteristic. It’s fleeting and evolving.
To love yourself, you must first set out to get an honest idea of what’s going on inside of you. This means you must observe your behavior and dialogs (both internal and external), and understand your story, pain, traumas, but also your strengths, wins, and values.
If you are going to love yourself and take care of yourself truly, then you must remove the masks you’ve been wearing for all these years.
You might think that the masks are only for the benefit of other people, but the truth is, you’ve been wearing them for so long, even you have trouble recognizing who you truly are deep down.
By constantly lying to others, you (most likely) inevitably started believing those lies.
And if you are not truly aligned with the person you are inside, then the “self” that you think you love is not you. And you may not realize it, but your subconscious does, and it suffers from it.
Loving yourself takes kindness
If you are going to love yourself more, you will need to learn how to be kind to yourself.
For many, kindness toward ourselves does not necessarily come naturally. It certainly wasn’t natural for me.
But self-love, and self-care, definitely implies learning how to be more kind to yourself, through:
- The words you use to speak about yourself to others;
- The words you use to speak to yourself in your head;
- Your tone when you speak to yourself in your head;
- The attitude you have toward yourself when you make a mistake or when you don’t meet the objectives you had hoped to achieve.
Related post: Don‘t beat yourself up after a mistake; do this instead.
Loving yourself takes humility
People don’t seem to talk much about this one, but another key element for truly loving yourself is humility.
It takes humility to simply accept that sometimes, you have no idea what you’re doing but you still did your best; it takes humility to accept yourself as you are and not constantly chastise yourself or beat yourself up for every mistake; and it takes humility to still love yourself despite your imperfections and shortcomings. I would even dare say: to love yourself because of these imperfections and shortcomings.
Yes, it takes a healthy dose of humility to love yourself, and it’s not an easy or natural thing to do for most of us.
Loving yourself takes courage
It also takes courage to truly love yourself. The courage to keep trying and to keep showing up for yourself even after you’ve experienced the 100th setback.
Loving yourself means understanding that you are not perfect, that you will make mistakes, and yet, you still make the choice, every day, to confront that uncertainty and face it head-on.
And you do all this, despite the (very likely) possibility that you will fail yet another 100 times.
Loving yourself means showing up for yourself every day, no matter the outcome.
Loving yourself takes faith
Faith refers to our ability to believe in something we cannot see, and loving yourself definitely takes faith.
It takes faith to believe in your ability to improve and become the person you were meant to be all along. It takes faith to believe with absolute certainty that things in the future don’t have to be the way they are now.
Loving yourself also implies that you believe in your capacities and your ability to face most challenges life will inevitably throw at you.
But if you don’t have faith, instead of showing up for these challenges with your head high you will endure them, focusing only on self-doubt and fear and scattering your efforts.
And ultimately, you will be the one sabotaging yourself.
Loving yourself implies a healthy dose of “sacrifice” or effort
What it takes to love yourself is a lot of sweat and work.
Don’t get me wrong, loving yourself is not meant to be a painful activity. However, nothing worth having comes easy. And that includes true (self) love.
If you are going to love yourself, you will have to:
- understand the difference between what serves you and what doesn’t;
- understand the difference between what you need, what you want, and what you crave;
- and you will certainly need to have absolute clarity when it comes to immediate pleasure versus delayed gratification.
Simply put, loving yourself often means making hard decisions that go against your immediate instinct, for example eating a salad instead of jumping on that triple-layer chocolate cake.
The good news is: this “work” and these efforts do get easier with time and no longer feel like work.
Loving yourself takes discipline and self-control
If you are going to love yourself, you will have to work on your discipline and self-control.
Loving yourself means improving your ability to protect yourself from other people and yourself. Yes, you are also your own worst enemy at times.
Loving yourself is not about indulging in your every whim or desire. It takes a lot of discipline and self-control to truly love yourself.
You will need to learn how and when to say no, both to yourself and other people, and train and develop your self-control as well as your ability to set healthy boundaries.
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