“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
*Disclaimer: This is not professional advice. I am only speaking from my personal experiences. You are free to try any of the activities I describe, or not.
“You’ll never truly love anyone, until you love yourself” has become a common phrase over the years. From lifestyle YouTubers to wellness gurus everyone in the media and our personal lives feels the need to remind us that we matter, and that we deserve all the goodness in life (at least the people who like us).
I am 24 years old and can still remember when I was bullied in grade school or heard people making fun of the way I walk, talk, and look in high school and college. I know that the reason I am the beautiful, intelligent, kind woman I am today is because I learned to love and accept myself over and over again throughout my life.
Though I am still relatively young I hope to share some lessons I’ve learned to help you, no matter your age, gender, sexuality, race or other identities with your own self-love journeys. Here are some tips on How To Start Your Self-Journey.
1. Look At Your Reflection
You can use a mirror or your phone camera for this activity. Look at your reflection and observe what you see. You may notice that your favorite shirt looks especially good on you or that you linger on your forehead acne. It’s okay if you feel negative emotions, many of us (if not all of us) have something we wish we could change about our appearance.
If you do not have access to a mirror, or do not want to look at your reflection you can skip this tip and try the second.
2. Say to Yourself, "I Choose to Love Myself Even When It's Hard"
There are two goals of this affirmation. The first is to make yourself aware of your intention to love yourself and the second is to become aware of the reality of whatever feelings come up when you speak and hear this intention.
You may feel a surge of confidence when you hear your voice or you may feel disbelief. This is okay, even great, after all you are still taking the first steps to loving yourself.
I recommend trying affirmations every day. For some inspiration you can read my Daily Affirmations for Your Self-Love Journey post!
3. Create or Listen to a Motivational Playlist
Music is in my soul and if you’re like me a good song can turn your mood around within seconds. As you start your self-love journey try to create or listen to music playlists where the lyrics talk about be proud of oneself or struggling with love but trying anyway.
3. Note When You Compare Yourself to Others
It looks so easy when other people start 30-day fitness challenges or journal in perfect calligraphy, but let me let you in on a secret: learning to love ourselves is difficult for everyone.
I know, it’s hard to believe but trust me, the influencers you look to for inspiration are just as human as the rest of us. The coworkers, friends, and family members who always look like they has their lives together may be more organized than you, but there is no way for you to know all their struggles, both internal and physical.
You can journal when you notice these habits, start keeping a tally to track how often you have these thoughts, or simply pause when you notice. Giving yourself a moment to consider how you feel or why you are comparing yourself can make it easier over time to decide what you could do differently.
4. Note What You Like About Yourself
Make the time to consider all the aspects of yourself you DO like. There is no minimum amount, nor a word requirement. All you need is to try to think of one thing you like about yourself. Some examples can be:
- Your hair
- Your style
- Your bubbly personality
- Your honesty and sincerity
- Any other traits (internal) or features (external)
5. Recognize that Healing is Not Completed in Isolation
Your path to seeing the best in yourself does not need to be lonely. As an introvert and lifelong advocate for “alone time”, I admit that when I isolated myself to heal from the pain of being mistreated or feeling like no one in the world could understand me it was through the compassion of others that I was able to find myself again.
So much advice is centered around the individual, and much of the work of healing ourselves is accomplished through our own efforts we often need someone to lean on. This can be through a therapist, a trusted friend, or even better a community of people you can trust to support you in the different avenues of your life.
Right now, you may not have people in your life who support you or believe in the changes you want to make. It hurts but, we can’t be everything for everyone and neither can anyone else.
There are many support communities online as well as in-person, depending on where you live. When I felt alone and isolated from people who understood my troubles I found community online through social media. It’s not a perfect system, but just know there are options out there.
6. No Amount of Money Can Buy You Self-Love
As a member of Gen Z it would be impossible to not mention social media as a factor in many of our self-love journeys. Countless times I have seen objects promoted as “self-care essentials”, but here’s the thing no amount of money can buy you love. No matter how many serums, spin brushes, luxury bags, and miracle foods we buy we will not love ourselves more simply by using said products.
I am not against the buying of things to make your life less stressful or help you finally obtain clear skin. However, it is important to be aware that self-love takes effort and time; there are no quick fixes.
In this age of social media advertising, that sometimes appears to be normal content, we can end up buying into the marketing that if we finally bought x we could feel y and become z. If only change could be so linear, so transactional.
Going to therapy, learning about our trauma and triggers, understanding what our bodies are trying to tell us, and eating nourishing foods are some methods many of us utilize on our journeys. The choice is 100% yours, just be aware that there are other options out there.
7. Accept That This is a Lifelong Journey
My self-love journey began 24 years ago and though there were many setbacks along the way, they served as lessons and messages to my future self that I can change and live the life I’ve always wanted to live.
Your journey may have begun when you were born, or maybe today’s the day that you start all over. No matter your past or present time will continue moving forward, as will our understanding of ourselves. Be patient with yourself. Change takes time and there is no time limit on learning to love yourself.
The road to self-love is paved with actions that challenge us to look at ourselves more deeply and more graciously. Now more than ever is the time to be gentle and honest with yourself.
I hope you found this post helpful and if you’re looking for more information to help you with your self-love journey make sure to check out my other self-love posts linked below!