From accepting your emotions to coming to terms with your past, self-love is a journey that can be difficult and vulnerable. It’s not like you can just flip a switch or light yourself a self-love candle and suddenly years of hypercritical parenting, toxic thoughts, or traumatic experiences just melt away.
If you struggle to love yourself, you’re not alone. You know yourself more intimately than you’ll ever know anyone else — which means you are hyperaware of your every flaw, every passing thought, and every wrong thing you’ve done.
If you’re tired of being your own worst enemy and are ready to feel happy living in your skin, we’re here to share a few secrets about what that journey looks like.
You don’t need to walk this path alone – we’re here to help. Get matched with a therapist near you today.
A Quick Note About the Self-Love Journey
When we talk about learning to love ourselves, we often imagine it’s a lot like falling in love for the first time. In one magical moment, you’ll break free from self-hate and people-pleasing tendencies and arise from the ashes as a more enlightened, blissful version of yourself.
However, loving yourself is more like a long hike that requires a whole lot of perseverance and grace along the way. It means facing your demons head-on and doing the hard work of processing the hard things that have happened in your life. It means breaking down the lies you’ve been telling yourself for years and making difficult decisions about what and who you decide to keep in your life. And most importantly, it’s a journey we take every day for the rest of our lives.
Loving yourself is hard and honestly kind of scary. Sometimes it’s easier to just fall back into patterns of self-destruction and to continue vying for other people’s approval. But if you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you’re done settling and are ready to give yourself the love and care you need.
How to Love Yourself and Be Your Authentic Self
Loving yourself is a rewarding journey. It can be so draining to always feel like you need to put on a show and be the “best” version of yourself. However, by discovering your authentic self and coming to accept and love the true person that you are, you’ll finally be free to live life on your terms and can feel at peace in your mind. Here are a few tips for how you can love yourself better.
Comparing Yourself to Others Less
It’s our natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. We often evaluate the people we interact with or see on social media to define ourselves and assign ourselves value.
It’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to stop comparing yourself to others completely. However, if you constantly find yourself scrolling on social media or looking at others at the gym and wishing you could be more like them, there are a few things you can do.
First off, you can identify your triggers. If you know that any time you go on social media you end up seeing a post that makes you feel unhappy with yourself, then limiting how much time you spend scrolling through your Instagram feed can be a significant first step.
Second, a little bit of gratitude can go a long way. If you can reflect on things about yourself and your life that you’re grateful for every day, you’re less likely to get hung up about the things or traits you wish you had.
Acknowledging Your Feelings
Your emotions aren’t something you need to run and hide from – even if they’re negative. You can feel sad, angry, or disappointed. An important key to loving yourself is allowing yourself to feel all the feelings. Instead of trying to ignore or push away hard emotions, you can learn to feel at peace with your emotions and accept them as they are.
You might find that the more you try to fight your negative emotions the more unbearable they become. On the opposite side, if you can recognize and accept what you’re feeling, you’re less likely to rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms and get angry or ashamed for feeling upset. Instead, you can focus on processing how you’re feeling and giving yourself the care you need.
Knowing Perfection Is Impossible
If you’re always striving for perfection, you’ll never feel satisfied. Perfection is impossible. While there’s nothing wrong with pushing to be the best version of yourself, fighting to be perfect and tearing yourself down when you make a mistake will leave you unsatisfied, self-critical, and ashamed. And you might tend to stick with the things you know you’re good at instead of taking the risky venture of trying new things – because making mistakes are bound to be a part of the learning process.
Perfectionism is often deeply entwined with the need to perform for the approval of others and to feel accomplished. And at the root of that need is a deep fear of shame. To love and accept yourself as the flawed, imperfect person that you are, it takes realizing that your worth lies in more than what you can achieve and that happiness isn’t unlocked by not making mistakes.
Keeping Good Company
The people you choose to surround yourself with have a direct impact on the way you think about yourself and others. If your friends and family members are constantly judging others, putting you down, or flaunting their accomplishments, you might struggle to maintain the progress you’ve made.
Loving yourself also means setting boundaries and cutting out toxic people from your life. This isn’t an easy step in your journey, but it’s a necessary one. If you keep getting hurt because there are people in your life who consistently treat you poorly, you to evaluate if those people should still have a part in your life. Additionally, it’s important that you learn it’s okay to say no to people and that you don’t need to wear yourself thin trying to please others.
Forgiving Yourself and Releasing Shame
Chances are you’ve done some things in your life you’re not proud of. People are capable of doing really messed-up things, and you’re no exception. If you’ve hurt someone you’re close to or are ashamed of something that happened in the past, you might carry a heavy load of shame and guilt with you. This deep shame can lead to low self-esteem, depression, self-hate, and self-destructive behavior.
Feeling guilty for something you’ve done wrong is a normal, healthy reaction. It’s important that you recognize that you’ve done something wrong, and the uncomfortable feeling of guilt can lead you to repair the situation and avoid the same hurtful actions in the future. Shame, on the other hand, involves how you perceive yourself. Rather than thinking “I did something bad” you might tell yourself. “I am bad.”
Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you’re letting yourself off the hook. It’s the exact opposite. Rather than ruminating over what happened, trying to justify your actions, or living in shame, you’re choosing to take responsibility for the action and accept that what you did was wrong. From here, you can express remorse, make amends, learn from the mistake, and strive to do better.
Get Support Along the Way From a Therapist
If you get stuck in your self-love journey, connecting with a therapist can help. At Ellie, we think that underneath all the layers, you – and we mean the real, authentic you—are pretty freaking awesome. At Ellie Mental Health, we want you to feel cared about, safe, and accepted. We get that loving yourself is hard, and how you feel and think about yourself is closely connected to your mental wellness. That’s why we’re here. We’ll walk through the muck with you and help you discover a life you love.
Are you ready to break free and fall in love with your authentic self? Get matched with a therapist near you today.