RuPaul said it best with his most famous quote: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” And with that, we reply with a big amen! But how many of us actually feel that level of reverence and care for ourselves if we’re truly honest? If you’re wondering how to love yourself so later down the road you can love someone else, here’s what to do.
Know that loving yourself is an action. It’s not just a feeling. It’s not something that’ll just drop out of the sky onto you. While others seem to master self-love without any struggle, it’s not all rainbows and sparkles. Sometimes it’s an ugly process. Sometimes it feels like the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. It requires 100% commitment and the least you can do for yourself is give it everything you got. You’ll thank yourself later, trust me.
Get to know yourself. First dates are awkward, just about everybody knows that. You’re there to get to know the other person while letting them in on who you are. But if you can’t easily explain who you are, how do you expect them to know the real you? It starts with knowing yourself, inside and out. The surface-level things and the deep stuff. Now, you don’t have to have every minute detail figured out; we all evolve over time–it’s just natural. The key is taking yourself out on dates. Spend some literal one-on-one time doing things you’ve never done before. Then, keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Through this exercise, you’ll understand your values, beliefs, and interests.
Disconnect from technology temporarily. I know it’s tempting to skip this step but hear me out. Ask yourself this: who are you without the internet? It’s so easy to put on a facade, whether you mean to or not. Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok…whatever you use, forces you to focus on algorithms and metrics. Their systems aren’t built to reflect the best in us. If anything, it brings out the worst. So, turn off your phone for a bit. Entertain yourself without the use of the internet. Sit in silence for a bit if you have to and just listen to yourself. When outside influences are gone, your true self comes forward.
Feel your feelings. When situations highlight uncomfortable feelings, your first instinct might be to run away from them. It’s hard, but do anything but. Confront your emotions head-on. As silly as it sounds, feel your feelings. Describe them, whether in your head or in a journal. Welcome them. Let them know they can be here for now but you won’t let them overstay their welcome. Feelings are little bursts of information. What are they telling you? Listen then pivot as you need to.
Get into therapy. Even though people openly talk about their therapy sessions, there’s still a stigma surrounding the process. Some think it’ll make them weak or like they can’t handle their problems on their own. That’s not the case at all. Therapy can be a wonderful experience, regardless of the general outlook of your life. Even if your life contains minimal trauma, it’s still a good idea to look into it. Not only is therapy a way to heal, but it’s also a way to reconnect with yourself. It allows you to look at yourself and your life from another, less judgmental perspective.
Lead with honesty. Loving yourself requires complete and sincere honesty. You can’t build healthy relationships–with others and yourself–if you’re throwing out lies left and right. The same goes for excuses. Taking responsibility is a noble quality and it’s an easy one to adopt. Holding yourself accountable makes you reliable and dependable. When it matters most, you’ll have trust within yourself and others will too.
Take care of yourself. Self-love, as stated before (and it bears repeating), is an action. If you’re not at your best physically and mentally, who does that help? Certainly not you nor anyone else. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be physically fit and mentally unshakeable. It’s about checking in with yourself. Listen to your body and mind and see what’s needed. Feeling sluggish? Try a healthier meal plan and dedicated exercise. Feeling down? Soak in a warm bath for a while and do something you consider fun. It’s all about being in tune with your own needs.
Change your scenery. It doesn’t help that the unpredictability of the pandemic keeps us locked up most of the time. If you can do it safely, change your environment. This could be taking a day trip somewhere or booking an Airbnb somewhere you’ve never been. As an alternative, add more nature into your life! Go on a hike, sit in the grass in the park and read a book, or go to your local botanical gardens. A little more green never hurt anyone. When you’re out, however, leave your phone in your purse or pocket. Nature is best enjoyed without a screen.