When it comes to living a positive and present life, loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do. When you love who you are—even the not-so-great parts of you—you lay the foundation for building a life filled with acceptance, love, and understanding. The more you love yourself, the less you project judgment and criticism on others. The more you love yourself, the less likely you are to be content with an unhappy relationship or an unfulfilling career. The more you love yourself, the more you gravitate toward the things and people that bring positivity into your life.
It's no surprise that there are tons of benefits from loving who you are, but what might surprise you is the fact that it's easier to love yourself than you might have thought. I know, at times, it can seem nearly impossible. We all get stuck in ruts when self-love seems like something out of a fairy tale—so unattainable and imaginary that it's barely even worth striving for. But self-love, like all great things, takes work. And if you put in the work—even when it's hard!—you're certain to reap the rewards. Here are some of the best ways I've found to fall in love with yourself.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR THOUGHTS.
Often what stands in the way of loving who you are is that little voice in your head that holds you back. It criticizes and questions you, making you feel as if you might be inadequate or lacking in some way. That voice of self-doubt is so subtle that sometimes we don't even realize it's there. Sometimes it becomes such a part of your thinking that you're almost scared to quiet it for fear of who you will become without it there to hold you back. Pay attention to how you think about yourself. Really listen to the thoughts forming in your mind and ask yourself, "Is this how I would think about someone else?" Our thoughts about ourselves are often much more critical than those we have about others. Pay attention to your thoughts—and be willing to question those that are negative.
ACCEPT YOUR CHOICES.
Let's face it. We all make good choices and we all make bad choices. Some are big and important; others are minor and almost insignificant. Regardless of what the choice is—or whether it's good or bad—accept your choices. You don't have to love them, but you have to live with them. The less you accept what you've already done, the less likely you'll be to love who you are now. Remind yourself that you can't go back and undo what's been done. All you can do is move forward and vow to make good choices in the future. To love yourself, you must accept what you've done—the good and the bad.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES.
You might not always make the right choices, say the right things, or do exactly what you should. But that's okay. Making mistakes gives you a chance to learn and grow, to do things right the next time. The more you live, the more you learn (and that's often because the more you live, the more mistakes you make!). Know that it's okay to make mistakes—it's part of life!—and remember to learn from them whenever you can. Sometimes finding those life lessons amid the rubble of a bad decision can be tough, but those nuggets of truth and wisdom are always there if you keep digging. Learn what you can and then move on.
LOVE + APPRECIATE YOUR FLAWS.
We're all flawed. Most of us will find something good in another person's flaws—or, at the very least, learn to accept those flaws. But when it comes to ourselves, we're sticklers for perfection and tend to dwell on our negative qualities. Recognizing that you'll never be perfect (no one will!) is one of the best ways to open yourself up to loving yourself fully. Your imperfections—both physical and otherwise—are what make you you. They create your unique self, a self that deserves your love and appreciation. It will be a struggle at times to love your flaws, but the more you practice, the more easily it will come to you.
DO NICE THINGS FOR YOU.
How often do you do something nice for yourself, for no other reason that to show yourself a little love? Most of us don't do nice things for ourselves all that often, but we should! It's such a great way to show someone else you love him or her, and it's just as rewarding to do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend. Celebrate your accomplishments. Treat yourself with kindness when you've had a hard day. Pick up a little treat for yourself just because. The more you do this, the more you'll look for reasons to do something nice for yourself—and, as a result, you'll focus more on being kind to yourself.
Self-love can be a tricky business. We're constantly bombarded with notions of what we should be, expectations we're supposed to live up to. It can sometimes feel as if fully loving ourselves is an impossible goal, but, believe me, it's something every single person can attain with a little practice, forgiveness, and dedication. With all the pressures of life, self-love can sometimes fall through the cracks. If you make it a priority in your life—if you put yourself first—you'll find a way to fall in love with who you are.
Wondering how you can stay positive and present on a daily basis? Check out my book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, filled with daily tips, advice, and inspiration for making the most of every day. Stay Positive is available in Paperback and PDF. Learn more about the book (and watch the video!) at StayPositive365.com.