“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
The concept of self-love should not be confused with selfishness or being self-centered. It should also not be confused with simply buying things or getting a new hairstyle to feel more satisfied. Self-love is a sense of appreciation and admiration for oneself that grows stronger through self-acceptance and maturity. Much like self-compassion, self-love can lead us to take steps toward appreciating ourselves in a natural and healthy way.
One major obstacle to self-love involves the conditions we set for ourselves. For example, we might find ourselves needing to accomplish a goal or obtain approval in order to feel positive about ourselves. In practicing self-love, we can aspire to feel this same sense of self-appreciation, even in the absence of a concrete condition or achievement. We can strive to love ourselves unconditionally, just as we love our children or a beloved pet.
An important step towards self-love is to improve or change our self-talk. If we turn up the volume on our thoughts, we might notice how we speak to ourselves. It is not uncommon to find that your self-talk is critical or negative. We are often harsh critics of ourselves and may readily judge and condemn our actions or even our feelings. Consider how you might speak to a close friend, loved one, or child who experienced a failure or disappointment and practice talking to yourself in this same manner.
Another helpful practice involves taking action to address your deeper needs, rather than focusing on what you think you want or what might feel good in the moment. This may take some self-reflection. Take a moment and consider what helps you stay strong and centered. Ultimately, acting on these needs will likely serve you better in the long-term.
Self-love can also be expanded by practicing forgiveness. Learning to accept your imperfections and view mistakes as part of growth can shift you away from self-criticism. Practice being less harsh on yourself when you make a mistake and take time to appreciate your achievements and resilience.
Lastly, we can take a small, yet powerful step towards greater self-love through affirmations or personal mantras. In repeating a short phrase to ourselves we are consciously and unconsciously sending ourselves a message of self-love. You might practice repeating a specific phrase, such as “I am good and worthy of love,” or “I am enough.” You could extend this further to practice phrases such as “May I experience peace and steadfastness,” “May I embrace today’s challenges with stillness and calm,” or “May my home be a home of balance and spaciousness.”
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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