It’s a sad fact of life, but many of us don’t really love ourselves. But learning how to love yourself is really the key to happiness in life.
Unfortunately, there’s no class in our school system called “Learning how to love yourself.” Wouldn’t that be great if we all took a class like that? Well, yeah, that’s not going to happen.
So where do we get our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love from *or lack thereof*? It comes from a variety of places, but it all starts with our parents when we were children.
Think back to your childhood. What kinds of things did your parents tell you about yourself? Did they call you lazy, selfish, or bad? Or did they say how proud they are of you, that you are beautiful, and you are a good person? Many people even get mixed messages from their parents. One time they hear they are capable of getting straight A’s in school, and then next time they hear that they are lazy.
Beyond your parents, however, a lot of other factors affect our self-esteem. The media, your peers, and comparing yourself to other people are all other things that can make or break your self-esteem and your ability to learn how to love yourself. [Read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]
How to love yourself – 15 ways towards unconditional self-love
The good news is that even if you feel like you don’t love yourself, you can learn. You are not destined to be a self-loather forever. But first, you need to realize that all the thoughts in your head about yourself are just that… thoughts. Thoughts are necessarily true. You might think they are, but they might not be.
So here are some ways you can learn how to love yourself and become happier.
#1 Write down your good qualities. When learning how to love yourself, this might be a difficult task for you. If you have horrible self-esteem, you might not see anything good inside of you. But trust me – everyone has good qualities!
#2 Write down your bad qualities. Unfortunately, this one will be easier for you to do, because most people already know what they don’t like about themselves. But go ahead and list as many as you can.
But, after you do, you have to look them over and tell yourself why they aren’t bad. Or if even they are, then you need to tell yourself how you are going to change those qualities. [Refinery29.com: How to practice self-love and be good to yourself]
#3 Set goals to improve yourself. Maybe you think you need to lose weight and get healthy. Well, set a goal and do it! Don’t just sit around and complain and feel bad about yourself for it. Or if you never finished college, then go back to school. When you take steps to improve yourself or your life, you’ll start to learn how to love yourself more. [Read: How to focus on yourself – 17 ways to make your own sunshine]
#4 Talk to a friend. People are way harder on themselves than other people are. Our friends love us, and they usually see the best in us even when we don’t. So maybe get a self-esteem buddy, and have both of you support each other in learning how to love yourself.
#5 Go to a therapist. While friends are great to have as a support system, they are no substitute for a trained therapist or psychologist. If you think your self-esteem is particularly low, try to find a therapist to help you through it.
#6 Monitor your self-talk. This is really where all our self-esteem begins and ends. No one can change how you feel about yourself except you. But you have to first notice all the bad things you say about yourself – to yourself. You might not even be aware of it, so start listening to yourself. [Read: Feeling unlovable? 12 life changing truths you need to know]
#7 Keep a journal. This is a useful tool to use when you are beginning to monitor your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying something bad about yourself, write it down in your journal. But more importantly, write down why that thought is not true about yourself. And if it is, then make a plan to change it.
#8 Only associate with positive people. Negative people can drag anyone down with them. In fact, they want everyone around them to feel just as bad about themselves that they do. So, stay as far away from them as you can and surround yourself with only positive people who lift you up. [Bolde.com: If you love yourself, don’t let anyone do these things to you]
#9 Reflect on your accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on things you did or didn’t do right in the past, look back at your life and look at what you did well. We have all accomplished good things in our life, so remember those times and congratulate yourself for them.
#10 Look at what you’re grateful for. There is always, always something to be grateful for. Even if it’s just the roof over your head, food on your table, and a bed to sleep on, hey, that’s more than most of the people in the world have. When you’re in a state of appreciation, it’s more difficult to hate yourself. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]
#11 Be patient with yourself. Remember, learning how to love yourself won’t happen overnight. The older you are, the more past programming you are going to have to undo. So just be patient and consistent with your efforts. Trust me, it will pay off.
#12 Stay true to your values. Don’t compromise who you are for other people. If you’re hanging out with people who make you feel bad about yourself and somehow make you compromise your values and who you are, then stop doing that. Stay true to yourself.
#13 Be selfish. I know this sounds like a weird tip. But people who love themselves can set boundaries. They do this because they know they are worth it. They don’t let other people walk all over them, they are selfish, well, at least some of the time. But I don’t recommend being selfish 100% of the time or else you won’t have any friends. [Read: 10 signs of low self-esteem and 5 ways to increase it]
#14 Forgive yourself, and forgive other people. Forgiveness is the key to not only self-love, but to loving others. We have all done things in life that we regret. So, forgive yourself and do it better next time. And give others the same courtesy.
#15 Visualize. This one might sound cheesy, but there is a lot of research that proves the power of visualization is real. Even Olympic athletes use it. So, visualize yourself loving yourself. That way, you will eventually trick your subconscious into believing it is true.
The key to learning how to love yourself is to just put in the effort to try. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow feeling like a new person, but if you follow these tips with consistency, then you will eventually have much better self-esteem.
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Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...