If one thing is for sure in life- it’s that you’re stuck with you forever. Other people may come and go, but you are the one constant in your life. So, since you’re going to be your best friend, you may as well learn to love yourself. An easy concept, yet one that is so hard for so many people. To love yourself is to always care for yourself and do the right thing for you. It’s to make choices that always benefit you, and to view yourself with complete acceptance. To understand that you have both flaws and positive qualities, and to view these without judgments but to simply understand that these are the wonderful and not so wonderful things that make you YOU. But how is this achievable? Below are five ways I believe you can begin to appreciate the beauty and potential that you hold within your precious soul.
1. Spend Quality Time Alone
A lot of people have a fear or dislike for being alone. Maybe it’s the idea of being left in your head, or the idea of being perceived as a loner, but I don’t think people take enough time to enjoy the pleasure of their company. I always find that I come away from spending time alone with an increased clarity and sense of peace. Sometimes I find it difficult to have the time alone, or I’m at first unwilling to take a couple of days break from the company of my boyfriend, for example, whom I spend most of my time with. However, I find that once I have this time alone that once I return to his presence I am much happier and less on edge. This is because being alone gives me time to collect my thoughts and also to remember all the beautiful things I love about life like sipping coffee in a warm cafe or reading a book in the sunshine. It’s a cliche, but doing these self care activities make me a much more peaceful person, and when I feel so much more zen my ability to love myself is increased. I’m lucky in the fact that I’m an introvert so spending time alone has never been scary to me, although as life progresses and more and more important people come into it, the more it’s difficult to seek this happy alone time. However, the invigorating energy that being alone and doing something you love is your way of giving back to you, taking yourself on a date almost. By treating yourself with love and care like this, you are reminding yourself of the fact that when others let you down, you can always count on yourself for a good time.
2. Positive Affirmations
When I started meditating, one of the first types of meditation I tried doing was mantra meditation, which as you could assume is the repeated saying of a mantra over and over, making the feeling and meaning of that phrase the focus of your meditation. One of the most common mantras used, because of its importance in Buddhism, is the “Ham-sa” which means simply, “ I am that.” ( May also appear as “Sohum” when using Hindi origins.) That’s a phrase that has stuck with me and is what I use most on meditation because of the feeling it helps me encapsulate throughout meditation - that I simply am as I am, neither good nor bad, simply a human being trying to make the best of this confusing rollercoaster ride of life. Even when not meditating, it’s still a phrase I like to think of - I am that, I am this, I am me. A human being with loves and passions and dreams who makes mistakes and is capable of hurting people, but also capable of great love. A twine ball of emotions and personality, but at the end of the day just a flesh carcass surviving from breath to breath. Even if you’re not at all someone to sit down and meditate, there’s still something to be said for repeating a phrase that gives you joy or happiness. Many people practice positive affirmations, maybe saying something kind to themselves in the mirror every morning, maybe just a quote that resonates with them so strongly that in times of stress it almost has a medicinal quality. Think of a phrase that you feel represents the beauty within yourself, and when you find loving yourself tough, that phrase will be there to guide you into happier times.
3. Make Yourself Feel Attractive
There is nothing vain about wanting to look in the mirror and like what you see looking back at you. There is much to be said for appreciating the way god created you, in your natural form, but sometimes it can really boost your self love to make yourself feel a little special. I’ve personally never been against make up and the extra bit of confidence it gives me - although I mostly go make up free nowadays to give my skin more room to breathe. I love clothes, and the things they reveal about me, and how I can dress to reflect my mood. I like being able to put on something sexy when I feel seductive, something pink and cute when I feel vulnerable, something elegant when I feel empowered. The point is, looking good isn’t just about attracting others - it’s about making yourself feel good and loving yourself. I’m not saying that we are only beautiful when we are wearing make up or glammed up or looking a certain way, but if you need to boost your self love don’t be afraid to change your hair or put on a dress that makes you feel pretty. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel beautiful- and often when we feel confident on the outside, this is reflected on the inside too.
4. Love Others
One of the best ways to love yourself is to love others. When I feel like I am being a good girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister and Aunty I feel a sense of inner contentment. By finding the light in others, it is possible to find the light in ourselves. In turn, surrounding yourself with a network of people who radiate love and support is one of the best to enhance your environment for self love and growth. Sure, loving yourself starts from within but in order to be able to do that your environment must first also be filled with love and light. When we give love and positive thoughts to others, we also in turn receive that energy back. Negative emotions projected outwards will only come back to impact us internally as well. At end the of the day, all beautiful things need the right conditions externally in order to flourish. By training ourselves to think positively about others and by projecting those emotions outwards, subconsciously those changes also happen within us. Love others, and you will also learn to love yourself.
5. Never Change For Anyone
There are always people in the world with negative vibrations who will belittle or make you feel like your imperfections outweigh your positives. At the end of the day, you have to focus on the things about yourself that you genuinely, really like - even if there aren’t many. Maybe you like the fact you can connect really well with small children, or that you have an awesome shoe collection, or that you’re alway giving away stuff and you’re really generous. Physically, although you mightn’t like your nose maybe you love the colour of your hair, or people are always complimenting your on your dimples. Find the things you like about yourself, and keep them - those are the beautiful things about yourself no one can take away from you. The road to embracing yourself fully may be a long one - like all I am subject to insecurities and fears that I’m prone to dwelling on. But as life goes on I learn that there are many wonderful things about myself I would like to share with the world, and there is no shame in admitting that. It’s one thing to be humble, but we all have beautiful and unique qualities that we shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge and let shine. Don’t change the things they make you who you are - you may be “weird” you may be “dorky” but one day in life it’s going to be those very qualities that bring you love and success.