Loving yourself is one of the most important, and oftentimes hardest part of living a full life. I want you to close your eyes for a second. Imagine a friend, a family member, a partner. Hold them tightly in your mind’s eye. Begin to make a mental list of all of the things that you love about this person. For instance, consider the way they laugh or the way they make you feel. Ask yourself questions about why you keep them in your life. For example, what are they good at? What do you admire about them? How do you feel when you have a disagreement? What do they to let you know that you are loved?
After that, picture yourself in your mind’s eye. Begin to make a mental list of all the things that you love about yourself. What are you good at? How do you make people feel? What do people love about you? More importantly, how do you treat yourself when you make a mistake?
During this exercise did you notice anything different about the way you admire your loved ones versus the way you are able to admire yourself? Was it harder to think of positive things about yourself than it was for people you love?
Often times we are much harder on ourselves than we are those around us. More often than not, we would never speak to our friends, family, or partners as harshly as we speak to ourselves. So what is that? How can we stop this?
Here are five simple ways to love yourself better this year!
Catch yourself comparing and correct it!
Start to notice if and when you are comparing yourself to others. A lot of the time this stems from admiring someone else for something they’re doing, accomplishing, wearing or any other number of things.
The next time you hear yourself saying, “She has so many followers, no one would ever care about what I’m doing in my life.” Firstly, catch yourself! Secondly, correct it! In fact, make a mental list of all the things that you do in your daily life that positively impacts others. How are you working towards your goals? How are you taking up space in this world? What about you do others admire? There is always something that we’ve done that others are in awe of, remind yourself of those moments and know that there are more to come! Unfollow, or mute, anyone who makes you doubt yourself!
Give yourself things to look forward to
You had a project due at work. Maybe you ran a marathon. Perhaps you set a goal of not drinking for three months. Heck, maybe you just had a bad day! Allow yourself something to look forward to. Whether it be a face mask, a favorite home cooked meal, a fancy exercise class, a big vacation or simply the next episode of Law & Order: SVU. As a result, you will see a shift in the way you begin to attach meaning to your day to day tasks. Most importantly, this process allows you to reward yourself, which is something that we neglect to do and certainly, no one else will go out of their way to do for us as independent adults. You deserve a treat!
Take yourself out on a date.
In the mood for fine wine? Curious about that ramen shop across the street from your bus stop? Heard about a new art exhibit? Dreaming of a trip to Europe? Stop dreaming, sister. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it can be tempting to compare ourselves (see point number 1) to everyone we see with a partner. However, even people in relationships have struggles. But that doesn’t mean they can hog all the good tables at brunch! It can be a very empowering experience to go somewhere alone. Take a book. Take a coloring book! Draw! People watch! Learn a new language!
Understandably, there is a lot of anxiety around going places alone and taking up space for yourself. There are worries about what people might think. Or if you look silly. If you’re worried about looking silly it’s probably because you think people look silly out alone. You’re probably projecting which, we can talk about another day. But for now, I give you permission to take yourself out! You might learn something. Or meet someone. Or simply have a chunk of time that is just for you! You do not need someone to take you places that you can take yourself! What are you waiting for?
Feel your feelings and communicate.
How often are we told to suck it up? Put on a brave face? Not be so emotional? I am here to tell you that there is power in feeling your feelings and communicating them effectively. Is it scary? Yeah! But it is also a practice. The next time someone hurts your feelings DO NOT WAIT to let them know. Don’t stew over it. Don’t vent to another friend about it. Address the issue immediately. The next time you feel you deserve a raise, tell ’em why! The next time a guy texts you every morning, takes you to dinner, holds your hand at the bar, and doesn’t kiss you goodnight (but obvi wants to), ask him for clarification about the relationship. Part of loving yourself is feeling confident and in control of the world around you and the feelings inside of you.
Get a journal!
No. You do not need to start each entry with “Dear Diary”. A journal is a symbol. It is a portal to your own thoughts and desires. It is a way to release tension, stress, and creativity.
Want to teach yourself watercolor? Get a journal. Play around. Have a brilliant idea for a story? Write it down. Love lists? Write a gratitude list every morning or every night. Describe your day in only a few sentences, or create a to-do list to up your productivity for the week. Write a letter to someone who has passed away, someone you wish you had known IRL. Write down goals for the week. Month. Year. Having a private space to express yourself can be a very helpful tool for navigating this life.
A lot of the times writing something out has the same effect on our mood and energy as yelling about it over the phone to our best friend. Plus, you get the added bonus of being able to look back on very specific moments of your life and reading exactly how you were feeling in a given situation. Journals help you time travel to and from your best selves and along the way you may notice patterns or beliefs that change or progress because you took the time to work it out on the page.
As you practice loving yourself, you are also practicing how to best love others. Your experience begins with you. When you start from a point of love inside of yourself, you are that much more equipped to share and spread love with the world outside of you.
So give it a try! Look yourself in the mirror right now and say, “Hey girl, I love you!” Then take yourself to brunch!