3 Small Steps You Can Take Every Day To Learn How To Love Yourself

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How To Love Yourself In 3 Steps
Self

There are many people who believe that in order to be able to love other people, you need to first love yourself.

But this isn’t true! Learning to love yourself is a lifelong process that exists parallel to your journey to love others, and that’s OK.

You’ve probably heard the generalities about self-love that make it seem like loving yourself is a switch you can just choose to turn on and off without effort.

If you struggle with low self-esteem or have difficulty looking yourself in the eye when you pass your reflection, you know that self-love isn’t a switch you can just throw. It’s not a choice.

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Sometimes, just learning how to turn the negative voice off when you think about yourself is exhausting. But that’s OK, too.

The good news is that no matter where you are on your journey to self-love, wherever you’re at right now is a great place to start.

And no matter where you begin, you can reach the point where you can honestly and openly love yourself, just as you are, flaws and all.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take every day to learn how to love yourself.

1. Practice turning negative self-talk “off.”

If you can’t go 10 seconds examining yourself in the mirror without spouting mean-spirited or rude comments about yourself, there are a few things you need to know.

First: You’re not alone in this struggle.

Second: Those thoughts are likely not true or are grossly exaggerated in order to hurt you.

Third: Whatever you’re saying does not and should not stop you from being loved.

If you’re at this point, you likely feel very low. This can be when you look in the mirror, when someone gives you a compliment, when you're in a social situation, or when you’re just having intrusive thoughts about yourself.

The first step sounds simple, but requires practice and time.

When something negative pops in your head, stop yourself and say one word: “No.” It doesn’t matter what you’re saying to yourself. The point is to disrupt your negative self-talk.

If your thoughts keep coming, keep shutting them down by saying, “No,” either out loud or in your head. Do this as many times as you need.

2. Shift your attention.

The point of saying “no” is simply to stop your thoughts, so you can’t keep going down a proverbial rabbit hole of negative self-talk and doubt that will make you feel even worse about yourself.

The next step you need to take is to change your attention to something positive — it doesn’t need to be something necessarily about you, specifically — but just something that changes the negative tone of your thoughts and derails the self-hate train you’re riding on.

You can do this by noticing something around you, being grateful, or paying someone else a compliment. It doesn't have to be big. Just enough to change your mindset.

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If you’re inside at home when this mood strikes, try noticing all of the things you have. Be grateful that you were able to collect so many things you love.

You can also have a positive interaction with a beloved pet, family member, or friend. Outside? Notice the beauty of nature. Smell the flowers. Look at the clouds and be glad you can experience it.

Are you wearing your favorite pair of earrings or a favorite shade of lipstick? Take the time to notice these things. Shifting your attention from something you don’t like to something you do will help stop your thoughts from spiraling into more self-hate.

You don't owe yourself an explanation right now. The point is merely to stop the negativity that's poisoning your thoughts.

3. Practice saying nice things to yourself.

For many people struggling with self-doubt, it's impossible to look your reflection in the eye every morning as you’re getting ready for your day and say, “I love you.”

It feels like a lie because, at the moment, it is. If you don’t love yourself, saying this bald-faced lie can actually be physically discomforting.

And that’s OK! Think of your relationship with yourself like a relationship you have with a romantic interest or a friend. You can’t just say, “I love you” sincerely to someone you don’t know. And right now, you don’t know yourself.

You've spent so much time negging yourself, you have no idea what your amazing qualities even are. So, you literally don't know how to appreciate who you are yet.

That means you'll get to start this new relationship with yourself slowly and cautiously because you’ve wounded yourself so much in the past already. This needs to be a new commitment from you to you.

So, start where you are. Small, simple gestures you know for a fact you can own up to, every day.

Begin by paying yourself a simple daily compliment, if you can. And if a compliment is too hard, then start by simply not allowing yourself to have a negative interaction when you look in the mirror. Shut your negative self-talk down by saying two words, “You’re OK.”

That's it. Look yourself in the eyes and say, "You're OK" whenever you feel the need to criticize or talk down to yourself. If you can only stand to do it briefly at first, then do it once and walk away. The important thing is to keep yourself from having a bad interaction with you.

By practicing this and keeping your negative self-talk down to a minimum, eventually, you will get to the point where you can begin to expand. “You’re OK,” can become “You’re nice,” which can eventually become, “I like you.”

That “I like you” can eventually lead to “I love you,” or even beyond — maybe even to, “You’re awesome!”

Just remember that your self-love journey is just that — a journey. It will take time and effort, and there will be some days that are harder than others. But never give up on yourself, because the relationship you create with you is the most important one you can ever have.

Every minute you spend on it, even if you never quite reach, “You’re awesome!” is still time well spent. You deserve this.

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Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and fiction author. Visit her website, MeretheWalther.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.