By Maria F. Torres
Are you your worst enemy or are you your number one fan?
A lot of people would like to love themselves, but many feel defeated because it seems they are not completely there. One of the biggest misconceptions about self-love is that if you do skincare routines, baths, yoga, exercise, spend time with friends, and more activities like these daily, you will learn to love yourself. In reality, these activities help us to pamper ourselves, but the journey to actually love ourselves is a little more complex than just spa showers and scented lotions. The first 3 steps would be to accept, nurture and be kind to ourselves. Let me help you help yourself. Let’s begin.
The first step is to accept yourself. Think about it like this, many people try to lose weight because they would like a slimmer body, so they tend to go on very strict diets. This type of mentality makes them feel they are at war with their body, that in order to win, they would have to look a certain way. This is sending this message to your brain “Since I don’t like myself, I don’t deserve to be taken care of.” (Cleantis, Tracey. “An Invitation to Self-Care: Why Learning to Nurture Yourself Is the Key to the Life You’ve Always Wanted, 7 Principles for Abundant Living.” Google Books, Simon and Schuster, 2017). When actually, the mentality should be “Because I accept my body, I will give it healthy foods, because I accept my body, I will make sure I am moving it, because I accept my body, I am giving it all the right things.” By thinking like this our brain stops believing there is something wrong with us, and instead, it replaces that thought with the thought of us being so important that we take care of ourselves.
The second step should be to nurture yourself, when I say this, I mean to nurture yourself by paying attention to what really matters to you. Not to what other people want, not to what you are supposed to do, but to what you really want to do. Nurture yourself with daily habits that are true to you, not to society or any external factors in your life. “Don’t try to push through with it, exhausting yourself to the point you are no longer able to cope.” (Haemin Sunim. “Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection.” Google Books, Penguin, 2020.) For example: you don’t want to go to that brunch with friends you don’t feel comfortable with, but you already said yes, and you would feel bad if you don’t go? Honor yourself, and nurture yourself with putting your needs and wants first.
The third step is to be kind to yourself. You are not doing a bad job, you are just used to self-sabotaging yourself with hurtful words like “I’m so dumb”, “Why am I like this?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, etc. More often, people don’t think anything of this type of daily talks they have with their brain, not knowing that the way they talk to their brain is so important and it projects to what they continue to think of themselves. I am not asking you to stand in front of the mirror and repeat to your reflection “I love you, you are beautiful, you are smart, etc.” No, I am asking you to practice kinder ways to talk to yourself, to have internal chats with yourself the way you would talk to your friend when they feel they have done something wrong. (Neff, Kristin, and Christopher Germer. “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive.” Google Books, Guilford Publications, 2018.) Because I assure you, you wouldn’t be so hard on them, would you? So why are you so hard on yourself? You are supposed to be your own best friend.
Self-love does not come easy; it is a daily practice that is done with a change in habits. These habits can be external temporary pleasures, but remember that accepting yourself, nurture and to be kind to yourself are the right internal steps that will help you process your emotions to change patterns. I would suggest focusing more on the latter. Self-love is knowing that after everything, you are all that you have.
Sunim, Haemin. Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection. Google Books, Penguin, 4 Feb. 2020. Accessed 15 Mar. 2023.
Neff, Kristin, and Christopher Germer. “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive.” Google Books, Guilford Publications, 2018, . Accessed 15 Mar. 2023.
Cleantis, Tracey. “An Invitation to Self-Care: Why Learning to Nurture Yourself Is the Key to the Life You’ve Always Wanted, 7 Principles for Abundant Living.” Google Books, Simon and Schuster, 2017. Accessed 15 Mar. 2023.
Maria F. Torres is a writer for The Voice.