If you’re struggling with self-confidence and have decided to do something about it, you have plenty of options before you. Everyone says “you have to love yourself first before you can love someone else” and that’s most likely true. If you don’t respect yourself, how will anyone else? Some people just don’t know how to love themselves, whether because of crappy childhoods, general dislike of oneself, or a complete lack of self-confidence. If you never had a role model to teach you how it is to show personal responsibility for well-being, how would you know?
Erich Fromm, a social philosopher and psychologist, said that loving yourself isn’t the same as being conceited, arrogant, or egocentric. He proposed that self-love means taking responsibility for yourself, caring about yourself, respecting yourself, and knowing yourself.
Another reason people never develop self-love is because they base their self-worth on the outside world like romantic relationships, money, power, status, technology, youth, attractiveness, and sex. They think “I’m not good enough” because they always somehow feel lacking.
Occurrences in our life can also make us low and think badly about ourselves like a demotion at work, a break-up, rejection, when we get in trouble at work (even if it’s our own fault), or when someone says something mean and nasty. Throw in a case of anxiety or depression and everything you feel in those circumstances is amplified.
So you might be saying to yourself, “yeah yeah…so how do I fix it?”
Love Yourself First
There are a few things you can do to bring about a change in how you feel about yourself.
Give yourself positive affirmations. You’re probably an expert in being self-critical, but do you know how well positive affirmations can work to help you how to love yourself? Louise Hay, who wrote “You can Heal Your Life” says to do what she calls “mirror work,” which is where you look into the mirror several times a day and saying “I love you (add your name).” It sounds cheesy, try it and see it might be harder than it sounds.
Practice meditation and mindfulness. Meditation has been proven to help reduce stress, heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. Mindfulness is, according to Wikipedia, “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental (sic) focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment” which you can do through meditation.
Don’t give away all your love. Be selfish; save some for yourself. If you’re in a relationship, don’t expect your partner to love you enough to make up for it. Don’t give all of yourself to your partner, your kids, your work. This will lead to you feeling like you’re being taken for granted. Give yourself some “me” time, whether that’s a girls’ night out, some time alone with a book, making time for things that interest you like a hobby or a sport, and knowing how to say “no” to things either you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do.
According to Deepak Chopra, there is a path to unconditional love for yourself, and it comes in three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. The beginning is where you want and need love, usually more than you’re getting. The middle is when you look to gain a higher kind of love. You feel less insecure. The end is where all your limitations are left behind you, and love for yourself and others becomes unconditional. He goes on to say there are three steps in how to do this.
- Make contact with your inner self, through meditation, self-care, contemplation or reflection, and being quiet every day for at least a few minutes.
- Face your inner resistance and obstacles honestly. Face your flaws and weaknesses. Deal with old wounds. If this requires counselling, so be it.
- Forgive your past. You’ll need to accept yourself first, and this is a step you shouldn’t rush into.
- Accept where you are right now. If you find yourself thinking about the past, look around and say “I’m not that person anymore.”
- Form relationships where you feel appreciated and loved. Choose people in whom you see reflections of yourself, who understand you and know the path you’re walking, and don’t judge you for it.
- Practice the kind of love you want to receive. Show someone the kind of love you expect in return. Want to be with “the one”? Then you need to be “the one” for that person, too. As Deepak says, “like attracts like.”
In conclusion, you need to be able to love yourself before you can really accept that someone else can love you, and you can’t expect someone else’s love for you to fill the void. Self-love is the goal for a happy and fulfilling life, whether or not you are in a relationship.
(Related: How to Overcome Body Image Issues)