3 Tips For Practicing SELF-LOVE and COMPASSION
“Self-love” is a term that has gained more and more traction in recent years, and for good reason. Self-love is a beautiful and vital practice available to each and every one of us at every juncture in our lives, but I find that the general understanding on the topic needs to be expanded upon. Often times, the discussion on self-love is conflated with self-care, another important but distinct concept.
What is the difference between self-love and self-care?
Self-care encompasses any and all of the practices you might do to relax, recharge, or release—taking a bubble bath, curling up with a good book, or going for a run to let off some steam are all examples of self-care activities. Self-love, on the other hand, is a broader, more expansive concept which includes several different practices, only one of which manifests as self-care. In other words, while self-care is beautiful, there is more to loving yourself than taking baths and working out.
Self-love is the ongoing practice of developing a healthy and compassionate relationship with oneself. Self-care, accountability, discipline, self-forgiveness, and confidence are all practices which fall under the larger umbrella of self-love.
To truly love yourself requires intentional effort and affirmation. Contrary to popular belief, self-love can be messy; it includes all the tough work of being vulnerable, getting to the root causes of our pain and misery, and forgiving ourselves for perceived shortcomings and mistakes.
The wonderful thing is, self-love is available to every one of us. In fact, we are all pure love and light at the cores of our being. No one is born with pain and suffering—we are all born beacons of light and possibility. As we age, however, we pick up burdens and scars from life that can push us further and further away from that original loving essence. Over time, we start to identify ourselves with our suffering, forgetting that that inner child that lives within was never meant to live that way. On the contrary, self-love is both your origin and your birthright, and you can return no matter how far you think you’ve strayed.
Below, find 3 helpful tips to help practice self-love and build compassion for self:
Self-Love Tip #1: Encourage yourself like you would encourage a child
When babies are born, we never peer into the crib and imagine all the failures and mistakes they’ll go on to make. We raise children to believe in themselves, to dream big, and to try, try again when they fall. As adults, we need the same kind of encouragement and reassurance, but we must give it to ourselves! The next time you find yourself beating yourself up over a mistake or dwelling on a missed opportunity, imagine you are talking to the five-year-old you. What would you say to make that little girl or guy keep going? Nurture your inner child so that the adult you can thrive.
Self-Love Tip # 2: Hold yourself to the same standards of love that you hold others
For the most part, we can all recognize unhealthy behaviors when they come from romantic partners—lying, cheating, breaking commitments and promises. So, why do we accept this behavior from ourselves?
Self-love means holding yourself accountable and honoring yourself by following through on the commitments you make.
Demand the same respect from yourself that you’d demand of a partner. You wouldn’t date someone who puts you down or emotionally abuses you, so don’t do those things to yourself. How do you expect your mind to be a safe place if you constantly feed it negative thoughts of self-doubt and misery? How do you expect your body to know you care for it if you constantly pick it apart in the mirror, or neglect it with poor diet and exercise habits?
Self-love means examining your actions to make sure they’re in alignment with the vision you have for yourself. Some good questions to ask are, “am I honoring the commitments I’ve made to improve my life?” “Am I being true to the promises I made?” “Am I a good partner to myself?”
Self-Love Tip # 3: Make an effort to get to know yourself more deeply
How often have we been stumped when someone says, “so tell me about yourself”? The truth is we spend so much of our lives consuming and reflecting other people’s energies that it can be hard to distinguish who we really are when we’re not being stimulated by outside people or events. But just as you would take the time to get to know someone before you commit to them, you must take the time to get to know yourself. When I say get to know yourself, I mean beyond your favorite foods or TV shows. I mean, do you know what makes you tick? Do you know what your passions are, your insecurities? Have you uncovered the pain behind the baggage you carry? Have you learned how to forgive yourself and others? To gain some clarity on these questions I recommend integrating mindfulness practices into your routine, and seeking assistance with your self-work through therapy.
Seeking affirmative therapy services is an excellent example of practicing self-love. It shows an acknowledgment of where your life can be improved, and a commitment to bettering your self-image and subsequently, your life circumstances.
It is important to note that loving yourself doesn’t mean feeling perfect or awesome all the time. On the contrary, loving yourself means reminding yourself that you are still light and love, even and especially when you don’t feel that way. It’s accepting and embracing yourself in all forms, at all stages, and taking steps to evolve in healthy and productive ways.
ARE YOU COMMITTED TO EMBARKING ON A SELF-LOVE JOURNEY? DO YOU NEED ASSISTANCE BUILDING SELF-COMPASSION?
Lucas Saiter is a therapist in the Flatiron District. He provides therapy for anxiety, depression, intimacy issues, anxiety, relationship concerns, couples therapy, and LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy. His passion is to help people find healthier perceptions of themselves and strengthen their relationships so that they may feel more peaceful, complete, whole, and safe. His practice is located near Flatiron, Chelsea, NoMad, Union Square and the West Village. Contact him today for a complimentary phone consultation at 646.506.3832.