A Guide on Cultivating Self-Love
What does self love look like to you? It’s a loaded question, and it’s not easy to foster the knowledge of how to develop self love in today’s busy, stress-fuelled world. Self love is the complete acceptance of yourself - an understanding of who and what you are, and an appreciation and affirmation of the beauty that you have inside and out. True self love is unconditional, powered by support and compassion, and will result in good health and happiness. Cultivating self love takes hard work and dedication, and true self love will develop through the time and energy that you can put into actionable everyday changes.
Through cultivating self love, you will also find more joy, more peace, and more love in other areas of your life. Being fulfilled within yourself will allow you to bring your fullest energy to others, and it starts with little steps that move you towards curating the life you want to live.
1 | Start with Self Acceptance
Radical self acceptance is at the root of authentic self love. When you can wholeheartedly appreciate, and accept yourself, love will come with ease. No more thinking you’re “too much”, “too cringe”, “too loud”, or anything in between. You are good as you are.
Take time to sit with your thoughts and understand who you are on a deeper level, using tools like mindfulness or breathwork to get into the headspace of spending quality time with yourself. Mindfulness practices like meditation can give you time with your own thoughts, and allow you to practice understanding and regulating emotions. Even just taking 5-10 minutes out of your day to rest, breathe, and process emotions will have a big impact on your ability to accept yourself. If you’re not sure where to start, we suggest looking into guided meditations focused on self love. This will guide your quiet time towards self acceptance and peace, and likely give you some good mantras to remember throughout the day when you’re in need. Get to know who you are, and then tell that person that they are loved.
2 | Become Aware of your Energy
Start to notice what depletes your energy and do your best to prioritize the things that uplift and energize you. When we continue to participate in the things that deplete our energy, it makes it harder to act with love and gentleness towards ourselves and others because we tend to end up feeling bitter and resentful. If you can be mindful about noticing the things that take away from you, start taking baby steps towards setting boundaries by minimizing the time you spend doing them.
Take the “full cup” analogy for example: When your cup is full, you can spill over with love and abundance for other people, new experiences, and growth in life. If your cup isn’t full (i.e. your energy is low and you are not taking care of yourself), you are emptying your already slim reservoir in order to give to yourself and others.
Only you know when your limit has been reached and when your cup has run dry. Cultivating a deep sense of self-love requires the courage and willingness to stand up for your needs and well-being when the time comes around. So when you take control of your time and energy, you simultaneously benefit yourself and the people around you.
3 | Lead an Intentional Lifestyle
By being intentional with your time and energy, you can lead a more conscious life that is aligned with what is most important to you. Setting intentions is a habit that requires practice and patience, especially for people-pleasers and “yes” folks who struggle with going on auto-pilot to appease people around them. If that sounds like you, you can start with small steps and lean on these tips to leading a slower and more intentional lifestyle.
It’s easy to find yourself operating on auto-pilot when life gets busy. If you’ve spent a lifetime appeasing those around you to make things “easier”, then it will be the path of least resistance for you. Start taking steps to go into different settings with intention and awareness. As someone with a deep sense of self-love and care, you’ll start to value your time and energy more, so defaulting to auto-pilot to please others around you will no longer resonate with you over time.
Setting intentions can be as simple as recognizing the things you need and want in your life and making it a habit to seek them out. By being intentional with your time and energy, you show yourself that you’re worthy of standing by your decisions and doing what’s best for you.
4 | Take Good Care of Yourself
Self care is a way to show kindness to your mind, body, and soul when working to foster self love. Taking time for yourself and finding ways to keep your body nourished with food, movement, and relaxation will result in an increased ability to tackle the harder, deeper parts of cultivating self love.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Self care can also include socializing with your friends to uplift your spirits, talking to a therapist to work through deeper processes, or even regular massage therapy to maintain your physical health alignment. We often forget that our bodies store a lot of stress and emotions, and a massage is an easy way to not only help you relax, but also help your body clear out any tension it might be holding onto. Unresolved stress and emotion can take a toll on your body and your mind over time, making it harder to stay in line with your intentions and to enact self-compassion during hard times. When your body feels cared for, it is much easier for your brain to follow, and you will often find that self care and self love go hand in hand.
Self love isn’t just a buzzword, but a state of being that enacts real change in the enjoyment of your life. The key to developing self love is to keep it at the forefront of your mind, choices, and actions, and to understand that each small step will eventually make a big difference in the eventual state of loving yourself. There will be days where self love will come naturally, and there will be days when you’re still fighting your inner demons, but practice and purpose will cultivate true self love, and with that, joy will follow you, and peace will find you.