Self Love: Definition, Tips, Examples, and Exercises
What is self love? And how do you practice self-love? Here are some exercises, books, and tips to help you become more self-loving.
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Benefits of Self-Love
Although the phrase "self love" is not generally used in psychology research, the idea of self-love is often thought to be a crucial aspect of well-being. In fact, some regard having positive feelings about the self as "the key to happiness, success, and popularity". More specifically, self-esteem contributes to positive feelings and greater initiative (Crocker, & Knight, 2005). Even in our well-being survey, we see that self-love is the factor most closely linked to happiness.
5 of the Best Self Love Books
1. The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth and Find Genuine Happiness
5. The 21-Day Self-Love Challenge: Learn How to Love Yourself Unconditionally, Cultivate Self-Worth, Self-Compassion and Self-Confidence (21-Day Challenges)
Video: Self love motivation
Self Love Examples
Sometimes if we're feeling bad about ourselves, it can be hard to even think of how to be self-loving. We're often speaking to ourselves with an air of negativity and we need some self loving affirmations to help us learn how to speak to ourselves more kindly. Here are some examples that may be useful. Try using these examples to be more loving toward yourself.
Love your personality
Love your skills
Love your appearance
Self Love Affirmations
Once we have identified some parts of ourselves that we believe are worthy of self love, it may be helpful to create some affirmations, or statements we repeat to ourselves to remind us that we are worthy of self love. For example, let's say you've been going through a tough time. You might create the affirmation, "I'm strong, capable, and worthy." Or, if we're struggling after a breakup, maybe we write an affirmation that says, "I am kind, loving, and deserving of love."
Whatever affirmation we write, we just need to make sure it makes us feel good about ourselves. If it doesn't fit you, your situation, or doesn't feel authentic, then it's not likely to help so much.
Self Love Tips
If we're struggling when we try to think of how to speak to ourselves in a loving way, here are some tips that can inspire self love.
How to Practice Self Love
These self-love tips are all well and good, but how do you practice them? Here's some more guidance.
1. Forgive yourself
When we hold onto anger towards others, it actually ends up hurting us the most. One study showed that adults who completed a six-week forgiveness training reported lower stress, anger, and hurt than people who didn’t undergo the training (Harris, et al., 2006). They also felt more capable of forgiving and greater optimism immediately after the training and four months later. This suggests that working through resentment and finding ways to forgive is good for well-being.
2. Be self-compassionate
Self-compassion is when we are kind and caring towards ourselves. Rather than judging and criticizing ourselves, we show ourselves the compassion we might show someone else. Perhaps we do this by giving ourselves a break when we're working too hard. Or maybe, we do so by writing ourselves a kind letter, saying the things we wish someone else would say to us. Whatever our method, practicing self-compassion is a great way to grow self-love.
3. Let go
When we hold onto negativity or let our rumination get the best of us, we can get stuck in negative thoughts that keep us down. We might feel bad about something we said to someone or be regretful about the way we acted. But focusing on these past events isn't helpful. Instead, we need to try to let go and focus on the present moment. By doing so, it can be easier to find self-love.
4. Take your power back
A lack of autonomy or control over our own lives is often what makes us feel bad about ourselves. But the truth is we give a lot of our power away. Sure, maybe we have a job we don't like and a boss that micromanages us. But if we can find ways to demonstrate our skills outside of work, perhaps even eventually switching jobs, this can help us gain a sense of control and power. So try looking for things you do have control over and taking action when you can.
5. Try self love meditations
Guided meditations can help shift our thoughts in ways that help us focus on new things. By trying a self love meditation, we are guided to think about the ways we are good, valuable, worthwhile people with a lot to offer. Here's a guided self-love meditation to try:
Music for un-guided self love meditation
6. Practice gratitude
Although gratitude for others and for the things in our lives is a great practice for boosting well-being, we can also practice gratitude for ourselves. For example, we might tell ourselves "thanks" for the good work we are doing or for eating healthy meals yesterday. Or, we might give ourselves heartfelt gratitude for "staying strong and not giving into to our coworkers' unreasonable demands", or for "allowing ourselves to take a nap when we were exhausted." By learning how to communicate with ourselves in grateful ways we can extend the benefits of gratitude in ways that may help us boost self-love.
7. Be loving towards others
Love is a skill. It takes practice to both give and receive love. If we didn't receive enough love or witness love being given when we were young, we may not have adequately learned how to give and receive love. It's okay though because it's a skill and it takes practice for us all. If we practice being loving towards others and ourselves, we'll grow this skill and it'll get easier over time.
Video: Why love and self-love are related
Self Love Exercises
Here are some more exercises that can help you grow your self love muscles:
Journals for Self Love
Self Love Quotes
Here are a couple of self love quotes for further inspiration:
Self Love Words
Using self-loving words each day can also be helpful. Even if you're just talking about momentary positive emotions, these are worth recognizing and celebrating. For example, each day you could ask yourself: What's one good thing about you and your life today?
You might answer, I'm feeling content, excited, strong, adventurous, resilient, brave, or mellow. Of course, you may also be feeling negative emotions too, but try to note at least one positive thing you're feeling. That feeling is a part of you and it is worth loving.
Learning Self Love
Learning how to engage in self love can be hard, especially if we've struggled with poor self esteem for a long time. But this skill can be learned. Try to be patient with yourself and explore yourself more deeply to understand the good parts of yourself while also practicing accepting the less good parts. In time, self-love can grow, especially if we work to put ourselves in situations that prove to us that we are lovable. We can't keep treating ourselves poorly (or letting other people treat us poorly) if we want to grow our self love.
More Reading on Self Love
Here are a few more related articles that you may be interested in:
In Sum: Growing Self Love
Self love is such an important part of well-being. Even if it's hard to develop, it's worth it to practice the strategies that grow self love.