Oscar Wilde famously said: “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” Yet, when asked about who they love most, few people will consider saying their own names.
How is it that as human beings, we can sometimes love another soul so selflessly, but when it comes to doing the same for ourselves, we fall short by miles?
Life isn’t always sugar, spice, and all things nice. We all go through our fair share of good and bad days. Good days are lovely: you’re happy, content with where you are and what you’re doing. Loving yourself is so easy on those days: your self-esteem is already high. But the real challenge, as in all love stories (including this one with yourself), is keeping that love alive during the bad days.
The bad days expose our shortcomings in their entirety. It is difficult to find words of praise for yourself while staring failure in the face. The quickest reaction is to turn inwards and blame yourself for the mess you’re in. Who here hasn’t handled rejection by blaming their flaws – perceived or otherwise?
The internal monologue that follows a setback is often harsh, unfair, and painful. It is also the last thing you need at the moment. For your mental wellbeing, you need to learn to show yourself some compassion – you deserve it.
Read on to learn how to be nicer to yourself, especially during trying times when you catch your inner voice being too hard on you.
1. Make “me time” important
Before you start loving yourself, you need to get to know yourself better. Take some time out for yourself every day, where you stop worrying about others and focus on ‘you.’ This “me time” can be spent any way you want, as long as your chosen activity brings you joy. Whether it is reading, drawing, or writing – the choice is yours. But remember, it has to be constructive. Scrolling through Facebook or watching TV isn’t the answer.
2. Appreciate yourself
The world can be brutal. Your achievements may be overlooked, but the smallest misstep is magnified. So, the onus is on you to make sure that all the things you achieve daily – no matter big or small – do not go unrecognized.
Make a “done list” every night instead of a “to-do list” and relish all that you managed to accomplish despite the bouncers that came your way.
3. Defend yourself
We all have an inner critic – the unforgiving voice within that keeps nagging us, reminding us that we will never be good enough, no matter what we do.
Well, guess what? It’s time your inner critic met your inner advocate. Consciously try to practice defending yourself when the self-talk starts getting cruel. Cultivate your inner advocate with love and watch it present positive arguments in your favor against your inner critic in tough times.
4. Forgive yourself
Everyone makes mistakes. It is not the end of the world. The sooner you realize that the sooner you can come to terms with whatever happened and move on with your life.
Being kind to yourself also requires you to forgive yourself when you mess up from time to time. Put a pause on the self-blame, make a promise to be better in the future, and move on with your life.
5. Prioritize your physical health
While a lot of self-love implies caring for your mental wellbeing, your physical health is just as important. You need to care for your body as much as your mind. To do that, you need to eat well, sleep well, get regular exercise, and stay hydrated.
Treat your body like the temple it is, and it will reward you with a healthier and happier life.
6. Learn to say no
In a bid to please people or avoid conflicts, we often take up tasks and responsibilities that make us uncomfortable or put undue pressure on ourselves. We need to understand that by doing so, we are being unfair to ourselves.
Setting boundaries for yourself is essential, and it is up to you to make sure that others, as well as yourself, respect these boundaries.
7. Recognize your strengths
When you’re down in the dumps, it can be a near-impossible feat to believe that you have any qualities or strengths to write home about. But deep within, you also know that it isn’t true.
Train your mind to recognize your strengths and talents, and focus on them whenever it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle with your confidence. Positive affirmations in front of the mirror every morning also work wonders.
Meditation is a simple way to reflect and unwind, and it also teaches you to be kinder to yourself with regular practice. When you practice mindfulness meditation, your mind focuses entirely on the present. This allows you to let go of past feelings of hurt, anger, or regret. You become kinder and more compassionate – both toward yourself, as well as others.
Lodro Rinzler, the Buddhist meditation teacher, said: “Kindness is not just about how you treat others; it’s rooted in how you treat yourself.” Many of our unkind acts toward ourselves stem from this difference between how we care for others versus how we care for ourselves.
Just think about how you calm, soothe, and support your friend or any loved one when they’re going through a tumultuous time. Now channel that energy and attitude inward: treat yourself with the same loving words and actions. Respect your needs and desires as much as you do those of your family and friends.
Self-love can be intensely rewarding: the more you nurture and nourish your mind and body, the stronger it gets, helping you navigate life with a little more ease. Not only will life become lighter, but you will also see your relationships improve significantly. Best of all, you will end up in a much healthier relationship with yourself – this is the happily-ever-after you deserve!