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How to love yourself: 10 steps to believing in yourself again

“How to love yourself” is a popular topic among self-help communities. Self-love is touted to strengthen relationships, improve quality of life, and increase feelings of happiness. However, it’s so much easier said than done. There are many habits and personality traits that hold us back, and they are hard to break.  

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On the journey to self-love, you need to determine what is holding you back and then slowly break through it. Achieve good mental health is different for everyone so you need to find what helps you. Learning how to love yourself could take some time, so don’t worry if the process is slow. In the end, happiness and serenity will make the work worthwhile. 

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10 Ways to Learn How to Love Yourself, Build Self Confidence, and Believe in Yourself

Take responsibility  

As you start to learn how to love yourself, you need to accept that you are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t blame your current negative mental state on other things, like terrible parents, an unsatisfactory partner, an unsavory home, or whatever else bothers you. Yes, these things might trigger an unhappy state but it’s your choice whether to stay in it or rise above.  

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There are people who have everything and are still miserable. That’s because happiness has to come from within. No one else could make that choice for you. And it’s the first step to self-love. 

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Let go of perfectionism 

In today’s hustle culture, perfection is treated as a good thing to humblebrag during job interviews. However, perfectionism is toxic to your mental and physical health. It’s been linked to depression, IBS, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies, and other health issues. Any perfectionist could attest to the heightened stress and anxiety they feel in many aspects of their life. 

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Recognize that you deserve better. You don’t deserve to feel beaten over every little mistake. Start to pinpoint the voice that bullies you and fight that undeserved shame and guilt. To do that successfully, you could: 

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Practice self-compassion 

Self-compassion is the act of treating yourself with kindness. Know that you are just as human as everyone else. No one is perfect and no one could be, not even you. Making mistakes is part of living.

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Notice how you experience emotions. You may brush aside when you are feeling content and calm, and instead only notice when you feel stressed and angry. That makes it seem as if you feel negative all the time. So give your emotions equal attention and cultivate the positive ones. [1] 

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“Self-kindness entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than flagellating ourselves with self-criticism,” writes Kristin Neff, researcher and Associate Professor at the University of Texas. [2] 

Listen to yourself 

What type of language do you use with yourself when you notice a flaw or make a mistake?” Neff continued. “Do you insult yourself or do you take a kinder and understanding tone? If you are highly self-critical, how does that make you feel inside?” [2] 

Once you could hear the language, look to ways to soften the insults and make them more positive.  

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Another method is to ask yourself, “What do I need?” when you feel distressed. The answer could be vital to understanding and helping yourself.  

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Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a tool to center yourself. When your self-doubt and anxieties start to spiral, taking a deep breath. Focusing on the present could stop the negative mental slide. This could be in the form of meditation, yoga, or even taking a walk. Notice how your body feels as you breathe and allow your mind to stop whirring with stress. 

Bring joy into your environment 

If you spend a lot of time in a certain area, like a car or desk at work, bring joy into that space. Find little things that make you smile and decorate with them. This could include plants, books, scented candles, photos, and funny quotes. Sitting in an environment that makes you feel content is a low-effort but effective way to practice self-love. [3] 

Ask for help 

There’s no shame in it. In fact, you are worthy of the time and attention of others. Being vulnerable is difficult, but you may be surprised at how many people are willing to support you. You don’t have to put on a mask for the world; you could show your pain. Whether it’s a coffee date with a friend or an appointment with a therapist, getting support is a gesture of kindness toward yourself. 

Find a happy place 

Where do you go when you need a pick-me-up? This could be a library, the gym, an art class, a coffee shop, a café with friends, or walking through a park. Make these little trips part of your regular schedule. Self-care shouldn’t be for times of crisis alone; it should be part of your routine. When you make the time for things that bring you joy, difficulties become easier to navigate. [4] 

Positive affirmations 

Positive affirmations are a hard habit to begin, mostly because they feel so cheesy. The first time you stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself, “I am beautiful and loved,” you may feel self-conscious. However, as you repeat whatever mantra you choose, the cheesiness wears off and it becomes second nature. When you try on a new outfit and worry about your body shape, your mind will combat the negativity with “I am beautiful.” When you feel lonely, your mind will console you by saying, “I am loved.” 

Write your mantra on the mirror, keep it as a background in your phone, or even just repeat it to yourself throughout the day. You will be amazed at how it alleviates the stress and negativity in your head. 

Journal gratitude 

All you need is a clean notebook and a few minutes in the morning or before bed.

Negativity bias tends to forget all of the good in our lives so make it your point to remember. Even if you are in a bad mood, there are always things to be grateful for. They don’t need to be big. “I’m grateful for my favorite sweater” is a perfectly valid entry. By learning to appreciate all of the details in your life, you will begin to appreciate yourself as well.  [5] 

Self-love is a journey and some methods will help you more than others. Remember, your relationship with yourself is the most important one in your entire life. So take the time to cultivate it properly. From self-love, omes self-confidence and self-belief. You are worth it. 

Keep Reading: Hugging is The Most Beautiful Form of Communication

References: 

  1. 5 Ways to Build Your Self-Confidence.” Very Well Mind. Amy Morin, LCSW. January 11, 2021 
  2. “Why self-love is important and how to cultivate it.” Medical News Today. Ana Sandoiu. March 23, 2018 
  3. “8 Ways to Embrace Self-Love and Thank Your Body.” Healthline. Lauren McAulay. August 11, 2020 
  4. 3 Ways to Learn to Love Yourself.” Psychology Today. Deborah Ward. January 17, 2014 
  5. “33 Ways to Love Yourself More.” Psych Central. Leah Campbell. May 20, 2021.
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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