I used to think that because I was confident at work and had good relationships with family and friends that I was good at self-love. But having good self-esteem or self-confidence isn’t the same as self-love. Self-love is about being realising that you are a valuable, worthy person who deserves love and happiness.
I have read countless articles and social media posts recently encouraging kindness and compassion. With Covid19 still wreaking havoc, past trauma and activism being ignited through the spotlight on racism, we should at least be able to be kind to each other shouldn’t we? But I fear the harsh words, trolling and the cruel messages that I also read on social media are the tip of the iceberg of what many of us are saying to ourselves.
I’ve heard people ask themselves:
- Why haven’t I been able to thrive and adapt well to the technology during lockdown?
- How come my relationship isn’t benefitting from all the additional time that we are spending together?
- Why am I working longer hours now and feel less able to manage my workload, when others are talking about their increased work life balance?
If you’ve spoken negatively to yourself, compared yourself to others or pushed yourself to burnout, don’t worry, things can be different.
‘So many years of education, yet nobody taught us how to love ourselves.’
I didn’t realise that I’d be quoting RuPaul when I woke up this morning, but here goes “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” He sums up what we need to do to be the kind and compassionate friend or colleague we want to be.
Here are my 5 steps to self-love which I know will help:
- Forgive and let go – Holding on to past resentments keeps you stuck. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you have forgotten, just that you no longer choose for that issue, situation, relationship to have any power over you. For example, a friend of mine didn’t receive the tap on the shoulder he was expecting for a promotion, he was understandably angry and resentful. However he couldn’t make a complaint, prove them wrong or look for another role while his energy was being used to keep him angry.
- Set healthy boundaries – Giving too much and never saying ‘no’ are examples of poor boundary setting. Poor boundaries tell others that you are not as important as they are! Many years ago, I had a colleague that always needed my help, so I’d stop my work to help them, they’d go home each night on time, yet I’d have to stay late to catch up on the work that I didn’t do because I was helping them. I eventually learned to set boundaries and discovered the power of saying ‘no’.
- Take back your power – try to step away from feelings of helplessness and being a victim. To make a change you need to take ownership and self-control. Own your situation and think what you can do about it. I share practical strategies on how to do this in my free video series 7 days to a more resilient you.
- Practice self-compassion – go easy on yourself. You will fall sometimes and make mistakes. Try to treat yourself like you would your best friend. We tend to be a lot harsher on ourselves than we would anyone else. Remind yourself of all the good things you’re doing and that things will be ok. Practicing self-compassion allows you to loosen your tight grip on craving for things in a certain way or wanting perfection. Self-compassion is the antidote that you apply when you have been too harsh in your expectations. You relax in wanting control or striving for perfection – goals that are unattainable. You give yourself some space to breathe.
- Commit to daily habits – daily acts of self-love are a good way to remind you that you love yourself and make the difference. Because we can only look after others when we take care of ourselves first. Treat yourself to a coffee. Buy yourself flowers just because. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Make the time to exercise or see friends even when you are busy. Smile at others and try to get them to smile back at you. Become more aware and talk kindly to yourself. Think about three things you are grateful for each night before bed. Try saying a mantra daily such as: “I love and accept myself exactly as I am.” Check out some self-love tips here.
‘In a world that profits from your self-doubt, loving yourself is a revolutionary act!’
Below are some further resources to continue your journey to achieving self-love:
Book: You can heal your life – Louise Hay
Book: Loveability – Dr Robert Holden
Book: The Confidence Code – Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Book: Rocking Your Role – my book that is a step-by-step guide for female main earners to help you love yourself and find happiness in your role.
Online: The Happenista Project – an online programme that helps you work on your confidence, self-esteem and developing success habits in as little as 10 minutes a day.
Blog: Self-love tips