Do you feel you need to work on your self-love? Here are 20 simple and powerful practices that can help you develop a healthy sense of self-love.
1) Strike a power pose
Your body language not only shows how you’re feeling at any moment; research shows that it also creates how you feel. It’s circular! So make regular adjustments to your body language throughout the day so that your body is saying, “I’ve got this!” or even, “I have an inner sense of worthiness and value.” Making this a daily practice will soon train your muscles and your nervous system for self-love.
2) Visualise your best self
In many ways, your brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary. If you imagine yourself in your best light your brain will process it as real and cause changes in your self-belief and confidence. So visualise yourself in a variety of situations, acting as your best self would act, and seeing the results you want. The key is to do this often. It’s the repetition that wires the brain.
3) Use positive self-talk
Negative self-talk can bring us down and eat away at our self-love. So catch yourself as often as you can in the act of negative self-talk and say something positive about yourself instead. It might be regarding your appearance or something about your nature, or it might even be a reminder of something good you once did. It’s a good idea to create a stock of positive things to draw upon, which makes it much easier to change a negative into a positive.
4) Shrink it down
The mind responds to internal images and these images can affect how we feel about ourselves. When we feel afraid or something seems too challenging for us, it seems ‘big’ in our minds. It’s like the thought or feeling is ‘in your face’. Negative feelings like this can erode self-love. A simple trick, and it does trick the mind, is to take the image or feeling and imagine shrinking it down to almost nothing. It even helps to take your thumb and forefinger and slowly join them together as if making something smaller.
5) Love thy selfie
Say, “I love you” or “I am enough” every time you see your reflection in a mirror. Say it when you brush your teeth, do your makeup, dry your hair, and even when you catch your reflection in a shop window.
6) Choose gratitude
One of the practices that erodes our self-love is when we focus predominantly on our faults or what we’ve done wrong. A practice of gratitude has the opposite effect, lifting us up instead of pulling us down. Start a gratitude practice that focuses on your good points. Start with 2 or 3 things on day 1 and then add 2 or 3 new things every day until you’ve practiced for at least 3 weeks and your list has several items on it.
7) Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!
Whatever your self-love practice, practice it every day. Repetition is how to wire brain networks for self-love. This is how to learn the habit of self-love.
8) Celebrate your uniqueness
Don’t try to be like everyone else. Conforming sends a signal that says, ‘who I am is not enough so I’m trying to be like someone else instead’. Make a choice to celebrate what’s unique and special about you. Let the world see your uniqueness and individuality and learn to be proud of it.
9) Be authentic
Be your Self. Live your own life. Don’t be concerned about being liked or accepted. Be concerned with being yourself. Being authentic is a massive statement of self-love. It’s like declaring that “I am enough … just as I am.” Speak your mind, and do it with compassion where you can.
10) Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself in ways that show that you matter. Take some time out, have a hot bath, take a walk in the park, treat yourself to something new that makes you feel good and declare that you are doing it because you’re worth it.
11) Don’t be afraid to show weakness or vulnerability
Be courageous enough to show your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Let yourself be seen. If you want people to like you, then let them see You! Everyone feels weak and vulnerable at times so the courage to not hide is a strength. And in having that courage, you inspire others to let themselves be seen too.
12) Be compassionate to yourself
Give yourself a hug a few times throughout the day. Remember that nobody is perfect. You can’t succeed or win all the time. You can’t even be happy all the time. We are all human, with our humanness showing as we stumble and fumble through life, trying to find our way. Everyone has worries and problems, even if they appear outwardly confident and self-assured. Remember that you are only human.
13) Don’t compare your ‘behind the scenes’ with everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’
We mostly see people at their best, or at least what we think is their best, but we’re all too aware of what we look like first thing in the morning, or how scared or vulnerable we feel at certain times, or how much we might lack confidence on the inside. As Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, says, we shouldn’t compare our ‘behind the scenes’ with everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’. Everyone has stuff going on.
14) Tend to your wants and needs
Learn to look after your own needs. Many of us get into the habit of looking out for everyone but ourselves. A mark of self-love is to care for your own needs too. You can do both! Self love doesn’t say to love yourself instead of others, before others, or even after others. In fact, it doesn’t say anything about others at all. It simply says, ‘love yourself’ and you can do that while you go about your business of living our life, being kind to, and loving others.
15) Have the courage to ask that your needs be met
We all have needs that have to be met, whether these are at work, in our relationships, or in life in general. When we are lacking a healthy self-love we become fearful of asking that our needs be met. Practice having the courage to ask. It might mean risking rejection sometimes, but it’s better knowing that you had the courage to ask than living in fear of rejection. Who knows what might happen…
16) Design some self-love affirmations
You don’t always have to repeat, “I love myself. I love myself. I love myself!” hundreds of times. Design an affirmation that fits where you are in your life right now and how you want to feel. You can even design one that’s a stepping stone to where you want to get to.
17) Pull silly smiles
Practice pulling huge silly smiles at random times in the day. Make sure you also do it in the morning, preferably shortly after you get up and also late at night before you go to sleep. Smiling like this sends signals to the emotional centres of your brain and increases positive emotion, especially because you’re doing it on purpose.
18) Push out your comfort zone
Self-love often lies at the edge of your comfort zone. Push yourself as much as you can with the intent not only to succeed in what you apply yourself to but in the knowing that the attempt itself is a declaration of self-love.
19) Don’t take it personally.
Try not to take things too personally, especially seeming criticism or when things don’t go to plan. Things only seem personal when we’re lacking in self-love. When things are not working, it’s not a flaw in who you are. Set an intention to be more resilient and your self-love will grow as a consequence.
20) Act ‘As If’.
Just for today, act as if you had a healthy self love. In varying situations and interactions throughout the day, ask yourself, “How would I be or what would I do right now if I had a healthy self love?” Then do it! If it works out today, try it again tomorrow.
Copyright 2021 David R. Hamilton PhD.