Growing up I thought that “loving yourself” was a very normal, innate thing that comes naturally to us all. I thought that loving others was supposed to be the tricky part! In fact, one of my earliest recollections of Sunday School/Childrens’ Church is being taught to: love your neighbour as you love yourself (Mark 12:31). So when I heard that commandment, it kind of cemented in me this belief that loving yourself was a given, you know?
Alas. I am older, I am wiser (I hope, lol). I’ve realised that for many of us, from our formative years and even beyond, loving yourself is not quite so simple unfortunately (which is probably why we often fall so short of loving each other!) If you’re new to my blog, I’ve spoken openly in the past about some of my previous insecurities for example body image, feeling beautiful without makeup and how I’ve learned to embrace who I am through practising self-love and care. In the same way you can teach love, you can teach hate. We could get into the ins and outs of why some of us struggle to love ourselves — societal pressure, comparison, negative social media influences, abuse etc. — but that’s a deep discussion for another day.
Today however, I want to change the narrative and share 7 ways to practice self-love, starting right now (well… after you finish reading this blog post). Go!
1. Be grateful
No matter where you are in life, give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). Things could always be worse. Task: At the start of each day, list a few of the things in your life that you’re grateful for, before thinking about what you hope to still achieve. My friend once advised me that it’s also handy to keep a diary/note of all the great things that happen to you so you can reflect annually.
2. Compliment yourself
Whether it is internal or external, find qualities and features about yourself that you genuinely like. Task: If you start by picking just one thing you like about yourself every day, by the end of July you’ll already have 20 things!
3. Work on yourself
Along with complimenting yourself, you have to keep improving your flaws and weaknesses because complacency breeds mediocrity. Dream bigger; educate yourself; hone your craft; set goals and work towards actually achieving them! We’re not a finished product, we’re on a journey and therefore a work-in-progress, not a work-in-stagnation.
4. Celebrate yourself
Every win is still a win, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is! Congratulate yourself for ticking something off and again, go back to point 1. and be grateful about it. At the same time, don’t be so hard on yourself if/when things don’t go according to plan.
5. Look after yourself
This is a biggie! A huge part of loving yourself involves protecting and upholding your very being. Lots of things in life can be a drain on us so looking after yourself includes everything from your appearance and upkeep, your ability to rest, your choice of friends and company, the food and drink you take in, the music you listen to, the places you go etc. Ask yourself, how are these things serving you positively and preserving your being? If they’re not, re-evaluate their existence as a means to looking after yourself.
6. Get to know yourself
One of the coolest things about life is the journey of self discovery. As we age, we evolve both physically and mentally so in loving yourself, you should get to know what is unique about you and what makes you tick. What do you like to do for fun, what are your talents and areas for development, what are your limits etc. Task: Make it a point to spend quality time with yourself on a weekly basis. This means purposely taking yourself away from social settings and constant interaction with others in order to develop a deeper understanding of who you truly are. I like to call it “quiet time” but it doesn’t necessarily have to occur in silence e.g. you could take yourself out to eat or go to the cinema, alone.
7. Stop comparing yourself
Newsflash. You are never going to magically morph into whoever it is that you compare yourself to, so just stop. Especially if it’s a comparison rooted in bitterness/jealousy. It’s a cliché and I’m sure you’ve heard this golden oldie before but comparison is the thief of joy. I’ve written about the dangers of comparison and how you can turn your envy of others into the betterment of yourself, read more on this here.
Remember, failure to learn to love yourself fully can result in you seeking love and validation from all the wrong places. It leaves an incompleteness that can potentially stop you from achieving all the greatness you’re destined for. Don’t let anyone dictate to you your worth but God… and we already know how amazing God thinks you are!
Here are a few gentle reminders, just for you:
- You are God’s very own wonderful creation. God’s works are wonderful. Read Psalm 139:13-14
- God created you in His own image, now that’s saying something! Read Genesis 1:27
- You are precious. The same God that made this incredibly beautiful and complex world made you. And He has placed you just below angel status and crowned you! Read Psalm 8:3-5
I hope this post has helped someone on their journey to self-love or even just given you some healthy action points to work into your life. What are some of your favourite ways to practice self-love? Share them in the comments below 🙂
God bless you!
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 8 “I [Jesus] tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. — Luke 12:6-8