In our relationships with other people, romantic or otherwise, it’s usually easy to make out when you’re hurting. Sure, almost every relationship goes through ups and downs, but when the downs keep piling up, it’s a signal that some course correction is needed.
When it comes to our relationships with ourselves, however, it’s a lot harder to tell when our own behaviors and patterns are actually hurting us, and sometimes it’s even harder to figure out what needs fixing.
When you look into the mirror, it’s usually not hard at all to find something that you don’t like about yourself. But here’s the thing – a lack of self love goes beyond being critical or unhappy about how you look. It manifests itself in the way you treat yourself (and others) and the things that you do to sabotage your chances for happiness.
Here are some not-so-obvious ways in which your lack of self love might be showing up:
- bitterness (because you’re hating on yourself and mostly likely, others too);
- exhaustion (because you’re running yourself ragged without any thought of boundaries);
- lack of self-control & constant over-indulgence (because you’re running away from your problems and seeking comfort in food/alcohol/drugs/shopping);
- seeking unavailable partners (in an attempt to feel special);
- and even constant goal seeking (“if I get that promotion/if I lose these 20 pounds, I will be so worthy of love and appreciation”).
If you find yourself going through any of these, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t always have to be that way. A little bit of conscious work (by yourself, along with a trusted friend, or even a therapist) can help you fall in yourself all over again so that you can get back to treating yourself in the most loving way possible.
18 Ways to Fall in Love with Yourself
I am a fellow traveler in this journey towards self love – here are some of my favorite ideas for how to fall in love with yourself all over again:
1| Self-awareness and self-acceptance
This is probably the most important step in the process of learning to love yourself. Until you can accept yourself, warts and all, you’ll always find it difficult to truly love yourself. So, start by acknowledging your flaws, but then focus on your strengths too. Nobody is perfect and we all have things that we don’t like about ourselves, so accept that you’re not perfect and that’s okay!
Check out: 52 Journal Prompts for Self Discovery
2| Keep a handy and accessible list of your accomplishments and strengths
Put together a list of your accomplishments – things you have achieved, struggles you’ve overcome, things that you’re good at. Write them down and keep them somewhere handy – this is one of the best tools for boosting your sense of self-worth and confidence. When you find yourself feeling low about yourself, turn to this list to remind yourself that you are capable and valuable and worthy.
And yes, being able to put a crying baby to sleep in under 60 seconds should totally be on that list. As should being able to bake a kickass chocolate cake. Or being able to talk about the Fed’s monetary policy for 30 minutes straight without prep.
Point is, it does not matter how big or small you think your achievement and strength is. These reflect your life journey – cherish them for what they mean to you instead of getting sucked into the comparison game or analyzing them in the context of societal/familial expectations.
3| Do more of the things that bring you joy
If you’re not having fun in your life, you won’t enjoy yourself. It’s as simple as that! Take some time out to sit and think about what brings you happiness – is it reading? Music? Dancing? Baking cookies for your next-door neighbors or office colleagues? Whatever it is, do more of it. Make time for fun and joy in your life and you will see how that positivity spills over to other aspects of your life.
4| Surround yourself with people who lift you up
It’s really important to surround yourself with people who are emotionally available, supportive, and understanding of your needs. These are the people you want to be spending time with – it might be a friend, a family member, or someone in your social circle.
If there’s anyone in your life who is constantly putting you down and making you feel bad about yourself, it’s time to cut them off. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
5| Set some boundaries
If you’re always running yourself ragged without any thought of boundaries, then it’s no wonder that you’re exhausted and cranky! Start by setting some limits for yourself and learn to say “no” when you need to. This will help you feel more in control of your life and take better care of yourself.
6| Take care of your body
Your body is the vessel through which you experience life. Treat it well by eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep at night.
Take care of your appearance too – dress nice, groom yourself well, clean your nails and floss religiously (I swear that makes a difference). It will make you feel more confident about yourself!
7| Challenge yourself
Stretch your comfort zone and you’ll discover new ways of growing as a person. Pushing yourself to do new things will help build your self-esteem and make you feel more capable, which in turn feeds positively into your journey of falling in love with yourself. A few ideas for you to try out:
- try out an exercise class which is different from your usual routine
- learn how to play an instrument
- pick up a new craft (pottery classes are on the top of my personal list!)
- bake something from scratch
- try out an adventure sport
- take a solo vacation
8| Step away from social media from time to time
Social media is, and can be, awesome – it can be an incredible source of inspiration, entertainment, connection, and community.
But be careful that you’re not consuming too much of it. It can put you in a negative headspace where all you see are other people’s highlight reels and you feel like you’re completely failing at life if your highlight reel isn’t as glossy.
Unplug from social media every now and then to get some perspective. It will also help you ground yourself more in your present so that you enjoy life as it is right now rather than constantly lusting after a picture-perfect life.
9| Be honest about your feelings
One of the most important steps to loving yourself is being honest about your feelings. If you’re feeling down, don’t bottle it up and pretend to be happy – sharing your thoughts and emotions with others will help them understand you better and allow them to support you in a more meaningful way.
10| Do something for others
You know what makes you feel awesome? Doing nice things for other people. Volunteering for a cause is not the only way to be helpful – the little things matter too. It might be taking the time to send your friend a message just saying hi, ordering food for your sibling because they’re too stressed to cook, or helping out an elderly relative with some online shopping.
And if you are able to consistently help out for a cause that is close to your heart – even more power to you!
Not only are you enhancing other people’s lives, but you’re also boosting your own self-esteem by being a giver. It’s a win-win!
11| Take yourself out on dates
A great way to fall in love with yourself is by learning to be comfortable with yourself, by yourself.
So take yourself out on a date and see your favorite movie, go for dinner at your favorite restaurant or go for a day trip somewhere new. By doing this, you’re showing appreciation for who you are and realizing that there’s nothing to fear about spending time alone.
12| Develop good habits
I spent the last few weeks reading through James Clear’s Atomic Habits and one of the things that he talks about is how closely habits are linked to our identity.
The more good habits you pick up (or conversely, bad habits you give up), the more positively inclined your sense of identity will be!
13| Make a vision board
When you drift away from yourself, it becomes easy to lose sight of the big dreams that you may have once had for your life. Your overly active critical inner voice may even convince you that you are not worthy of more.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fact is, no matter what phase of life you’re in right now – whether you’re struggling or whether you feel completely sorted – you deserve to have all of your big dreams.
If you find yourself in need of some visual motivation, how about making a vision board this weekend? It is an easy way of keeping your dreams and goals out in the open where you can see them every day and remind yourself of what you’re working towards. When you create a vision board that is in honest alignment with the life you want, it can infuse a sense of new vigor and excitement into your life.
14| Practice affirmations
Affirmations can help you take control of your self-talk and give your subconscious mind some positive suggestions to carry out for you!
It might seem like a silly habit when you first start off but I’ll ask you this – what do you have to lose by repeating 4-5 positive affirmations to yourself? I would suspect nothing at all. So why not try making daily affirmations a part of your routine and see for yourself whether it makes a difference to you.
A few ideas for affirmations to start off with:
15| Build in meaningful rituals into your daily life
Part of loving yourself is creating a life that you love. It’s not about creating an Instagram-perfect life but rather, creating a life that has meaning for you.
Instead of trying to overhaul your life in a single day, start by creating 1-2 rituals around your daily routines. Romanticize your life. Make that morning cup of tea a quiet moment to check in with yourself. Use your nighttime skincare routine to practice mindfulness.
Rituals are powerful because they elevate the ordinary to a beautiful moment to savor, and building a life that you love should involve more such moments.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool that you can use to bring about peace of mind and a lighter sense of being.
Being able to forgive yourself and others will set your mind free and allow you to heal and love yourself more deeply.
This is one thing I’ve been working hard on – especially when it comes to forgiving myself – and I can honestly tell you that it’s made a huge difference to my mental peace.
17| Be grateful
It might seem obvious but it’s not easy to see all the good things that you have in your life when you’re constantly looking at what you do not have.
Make it a habit to start off each day by taking time out to reflect on all the blessings you have in your life. It will help you realize how incredible your life is and also help you feel better about yourself.
18| Have fun!
Last but certainly not the least, make sure you have a life that is full of laughter and joy. It might seem like a simple thing to you but if you’re serious about loving yourself, you have to give yourself the opportunity to laugh and be silly.
Don’t let anyone else take away your right to enjoy life! Let go of things that are restricting your sense of fun or enjoyment in some way.
Focusing on having fun and enjoying life is a great way to love yourself more. It helps bring in an element of joy into your daily routine, brings out the playful side of you, and also helps you connect better with other people.
Truly loving yourself and believing in your self-worth will have an impact on almost all aspects of your life – from the way you carry yourself, to the people you invite into your life and how you treat yourself.
Falling in love with yourself is a journey of self-discovery and requires you to be willing to let go of the fear, your insecurities, thoughts that are not serving you, etc. It takes time but as a fellow traveler on this journey, believe me when I say it’s so worth it!
I hope you find something in the above suggestions that resonates with you and helps you in your self love journey. Let me know in the comments if you have any more suggestions!