We all wish we could be happier, but the reason we sometimes fall short is that we place too much focus on the wrong operative word. Happiness is a process, and self-love is one of the most instrumental steps – and then, there are steps to cultivating self-love. So, it’s like a process that leads you to another process.
While it takes actionable steps and not just wishes, ultimately, each one fuels the other until you become a self-loving happy person (or a happy self-loving person). No matter how you look at it, and no matter who you are or where you are now in the process, these steps for how to self love are for you.
Cultivate self-awareness for self love
Self love is defined as “regard for one’s well-being and happiness.” This means that self love is a characteristic that is unique to each of us. So, to know what self love means to you, you must be able to connect with how you feel and what makes you feel well and happy. Self-awareness is having conscious knowledge of your character, including your feelings and desires, and you can cultivate more of it through practices like daily meditation and self-reflection.
Affirmations are mindful tools that have the power to create real positive change in your life, and it starts with your mentality. Affirmations can rewire your mind when practiced daily. Your subconscious mind continually stays busy ensuring that you respond the way you are programmed, which means it is listening to what you say to yourself and taking it all literally. If you can stick to a short, memorable phrase that resonates with you and repeat it to yourself daily, you can manifest a great deal of self love.
Accept your shadow self
Your shadow side is the side of your personality that consists of all the parts about you that you don’t want to admit you have. For this reason, your shadow side remains unconscious, that is, until you become more self-aware of your shadow. One of the most effective ways to start working on shadow self is through journaling your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to things or people. This practice will enable you to find patterns in your thoughts and behaviors to ultimately break the undesirable ones. But first, it is just about accepting that they are there. Shadow work can be dark, scary, and challenging, but it is a necessary step only you can take if you want to know how to self love and be happy. In the words of Carl Jung, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”
Spend time doing what makes you happy
Once you have learned more about who you are, it’s time to get better acquainted with the things that make you happy. If you already know the answers, then my advice for you on how to self love is to spend more time doing them! Choose one thing that is easily accessible that you can do every day, whether it’s coloring or listening to music, and make that thing non-negotiable.
Read a book
It is much less challenging to ruminate on your own thoughts or story when you get lost in someone else’s. Reading is a great way to shift your attention when you need a break from your thoughts or something going on in your life. The best part about reading is there is something for everyone. And if you really want to dig more into the happiness work, there are books that can tell you a lot about how to self love. Guidance books and self-help books are filled with inspiring thoughts and practices; not only that, but they are almost always written from the perspective of someone who has done some kind of self love work—goal setting and habit building count too! If you think about it, both are self love at their core.
Do a digital detox
The only time when it’s not healthy to get caught up in someone else’s story is when you start comparing yours. Social media gives us 24/7 access to the lives of just about everyone around us, which is basically like giving our brain more access to self-deprecating thoughts. If you can admit to yourself that you are someone who easily compares, judges, and criticizes yourself after most scrolls through your feed, then maybe it’s time to reassess your intention for social media use and reframe your thoughts. This can take a lot of conscious thought and effort, however, and while it’s something we all need to learn, sometimes it’s best to take a step back to do a digital detox before you forget how to self love.
Prioritize your health
Put plain and simple, when your physical health is suffering, so does every other aspect of your life. A critical element of self love is making your health a priority because when you do, it is committing to both your present and future self. It is not about your physical appearance, but instead it is about being healthy, mobile, and free to do anything you want without limitations. Deciding to make your physical health a priority is like saying to yourself, I am worthy of a long and happy life.
We all know that negative thoughts do nothing but get in the way of ourselves, our productivity, and our happiness. When you catch yourself speaking to yourself in a critical way, think about how you can rewire that thought in a way that will push you in a forward, positive, and more self-loving direction.
Remember what matters
We all know what it’s like to feel weighed down by stress and responsibilities, and it causes most of us to spend every day missing the big picture. We close out our days by writing in our journals or talking to our significant others about how much work we accomplished or how successful we feel. But at the end of the day, how often do you base a successful day on how happy you were?
Tell others that you love them
Once you’ve started making more progress on your self love, practice reminding others more that you love them too. Something as simple as a compliment can reaffirm your own self love because to see something in someone else means seeing it in yourself also. Remember that in life, you get out what you put in, and everything circles back around. When you understand that there is no limit on the self love you can nurture, there is no cap on the love that you can share.