6 Ways to Start Practicing Self-Love
By Ashley Laderer
Sometimes we put so much focus on loving other people—whether that’s romantic partners, friends, or family—that we can forget how important it is to love ourselves. And self-love isn’t just about hyping yourself up, although that can be a fun part of it. Self-love encompasses taking care of your mental and physical well-being, having self-compassion, doing what makes you happy, and celebrating who you are. Regardless of if you’re single, starting something with a Bumble match, or in a relationship, practicing self-love is always important. Here are six ways to start.
Give yourself daily compliments
One big thing that gets in the way of self-love is negative self-talk, says therapist Saba Harouni Lurie. Oftentimes we focus on what we don’t like about ourselves rather than what we do like about ourselves. Squash that inner critic by actively focusing on the good and giving yourself some solid compliments. If you notice something that you like about yourself, seize the moment and make it a self-compliment. Or if you notice negative self-talk, try turning it around. For instance, if you think, “I’m so bad at yoga,” reframe it to, “It’s awesome that I’m working to get better at something.”
“By taking time out of each day to compliment yourself, you’ll hopefully find that the negative voice becomes quieter as you focus your mind and energy more on the positives in your life,” says Lurie. These compliments can be written down, spoken out loud, or even just thought. No matter how you do it, giving yourself a daily compliment will strengthen those positive thought patterns, allowing them to come more naturally.
Treat yourself how your friends treat you
Pay attention to the way the people closest to you, like your best friends, show you love and appreciation. Picture how they lift you up, celebrate your successes, and show you compassion and understanding—and then consider how you can treat yourself in the same way. “It can be transformative to try and view ourselves through the eyes of a loved one,” Lurie says. “The next time you’re being hard on yourself and engaging in negative self-talk, try to think about what your best friend would say to you and try to offer yourself the same grace that they would.” Remember: if you wouldn’t think it about or say it to your best friend, don’t say it or think it to yourself.
Avoid comparing yourself to others
There’s truth to the age-old saying that comparison is the thief of joy. Pitting yourself against other people, whether you know them in person or just see them on social media, can make you feel badly or like you’re doing something “wrong” if you feel you’re not as successful/attractive/popular/creative as them (or whatever it might be!).
“Comparing yourself to others only leads to unhappiness,” says therapist Colleen Wenner. “Your life, personality, and experiences are unique––so why would you try to fit into someone else’s mold?” Instead, she recommends focusing on yourself, your progress, your wins, and taking the right steps to reach your personal goals. If you catch yourself comparing yourself to the same people over and over on social media, you may want to consider unfollowing them (or at least muting them). Then, pull your attention back to focusing on you.
Tap into your passions and hobbies
Ask yourself what you’re passionate about and what fulfills you mentally and emotionally, then spend more time leaning into that, suggests therapist Abby Wilson. “Finding hobbies that uplift you is a really important piece to practicing self-love,” she says.
This can be something creative like making art or playing music, or something active, like playing a sport you love. Do what’s fun for you, without worrying about what everyone else is doing. Not to mention, Wilson says this lends itself to long-term gratification and fulfillment, which play a big role in loving yourself.
Set (and maintain) boundaries
Especially if you’re a people-pleaser, you may find that you go about your days fulfilling everyone else’s needs or expectations, without setting any boundaries for yourself, says Wenner. Practice-self love by putting yourself first. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to attending an event or brunch, and verbalize your limits to friends, family, or partners.
This can also look like cutting off toxic relationships that sap your energy, don’t honor your boundaries, or cause you emotional turmoil. “These types of relationships drain your self-esteem and confidence,” Wenner says. “The good news is that removing yourself from these situations will allow you to recharge and re-energize.” And when you feel better, you’ll be open to practicing self-love.
Even incorporating just a few of these tips will help make a difference in your self-esteem, self-respect, and overall mental health. The more you practice self-love, the more naturally and easily it will come to you, and the more benefits you’ll reap.