How to Love Yourself

how to love yourself

After decades of hetero-centric Valentine’s Day stories and articles that talk about savoring love, finding love, and keeping love with another person, it seems like there followed a tidal wave of “love yourself” topics and ideas for this holiday. And those have now become a little cliche. But since I’m in favor of self-love EVERY day, since I think loving yourself can enhance your ability to be a good partner, and since the topic of self-love can be extremely daunting, I’m going to cliche it up for the day.

Here are a few ways to show yourself some love:

  • Diminish negative self-talk: Listen closely to your internal monologue. Whenever you feel it veering off into criticism of your body, your choices, your actions, your relationships, try to pause. It takes time to truly halt negative self-talk, so start by just making yourself aware of it. How often are you berating yourself? Could you do it less? Give it a try.
  • Note your successes: Before you go to bed each night, think back on your day. What stood out as something that you did well, that felt good, that was a major or minor success? Did you close a deal or kick ass at a presentation? Did you make your kids giggle themselves silly? Did you put together a fantastic outfit? Some days this will feel more challenging than others, but keep at it. Even if the day’s success seems tiny, acknowledge it. And give yourself credit for it. You made that happen. You succeeded today.
  • Talk to the mirror: I know, That Old Chestnut. But I trot it out often because it WORKS, people. Before you begin your day in earnest, look in the mirror. Praise your body out loud while looking at your reflection. Say, “I have lustrous hair.” Say, “I have strong, powerful legs.” Say, “I have kind and welcoming eyes.” Try to think of something new each day. You may run out, so feel free to recycle. Just try it. It’s amazing.
  • Forgive yourself: This often goes hand-in-hand with diminishing negative self-talk, but can also exist separately. We are all our own worst critics. Next time you “screw up” and fall down a self-hatred rabbit hole in the aftermath, listen to how you’re talking to and about yourself. Would you say those things to your mom if she’d screwed up in a similar way? Your sister? Best friend? Partner? If not, why are you saying them to yourself? Everyone stumbles, and it’s important to learn from mistakes. But focus on the learning and forgiving, and try to move away from blame, shame, and self-loathing.
  • Engage praise: In my experience, praise attracts praise. Offering praise to strangers, family members, friends, and colleagues creates an environment conducive to positivity. Praise someone else – for a choice, an action, a decision, a moment of bravery – and you’ll be amazed how quickly that praise returns to you. How is this beneficial in the Self-Love Department? Well, receiving praise is always good for confidence. But on a subtler level, when you dish out praise to others you are acknowledging the fact that the successes of others bring you joy. You are not buying into the myth that there is a limited amount of happiness, success, or beauty available in the world. You are fostering abundance for yourself and others. And that feels at once secure and liberating.

Image courtesy jaroslavd.

Originally posted 2013-02-14 06:16:39.

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15 Responses to “How to Love Yourself”

  1. Cheryl

    Great antidotes for a holiday that aggravates many. My go-tos are exercising and eating well every day (or at least trying to do so every day).

  2. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    It’s a familiar technique, but very helpful – I ask myself, “would I be so critical of my sister? (who’s also my best friend)?” The answer’s always no, so I try to go a little easier on myself.

  3. Lindsey

    This is a broad generalization, but I don’t really find that men do this to themselves, or at least they are quicker to shrug off their mistakes. I think it’s interesting that women (again, in general) I think, tend to internalize their (perceived) mistakes a lot more–I know I sure do. Thanks for a great article!

  4. Tracey Jennings

    My father may have passed away when I was just 13 but he left me a beautiful legacy with his lessons of “Be Your Own Best Friend!” What a great post for today!

  5. Becky

    Look for beauty in everything, and you’ll see it in yourself too. Bonus – you’ll live in a beautiful world.

  6. Aziraphale

    A good way to cultivate self-love is to look outside yourself more. Focus your attention on other people, other topics, on activities that will engage your mind and body. If I find that I’m feeling a bit negative about myself, it’s probably because I’ve been spending to much time being self-involved. If I switch instead to paying more attention to what I can do, what I can learn, and thinking about/interacting with other people, my negative self-talk evaporates. Action works better than rumination for me.

    • Lindsey

      I find the same thing–when I can take action instead of staying stuck in my own head, I can all but feel my brain cool off!

  7. Rose-Anne

    What a lovely image for today, Sal!

    I agree with your point about forgiving yourself. Sometimes our anger toward other people can only be resolved when we forgive ourselves for any mistakes we may have made or any ways in which we contributed to a bad situation. I’ve been struggling with anger toward a male colleague who is also a friend, but our “friendship” threatened to cross the line into forbidden territory. He seemed sort of laissez faire about cheating on his partner, which left me feeling responsible for making an ethical decision. I felt terrible about the whole situation and really angry with him. I’ve been working on forgiving myself for being naive and for needing his friendship during what was a really hard year for me. I feel like the forgiveness has been a way of letting go of the shame/self-loathing that had begun to weigh on my heart. Since then, my friendship with him has cooled considerably, and I think it’s for the best. (And for the record, I was his friend, but I did NOT help him cheat on his partner sexually. Some of us “other women” do care about female partners, even the ones we’ve never met!)

  8. BeaGomez

    Talk isn’t really productive, I’ve found. Action is what counts–even more than intention. So, if I want to feel good about myself, I have to do things that I’m proud of. Telling myself I’m cute and nice and deserving and all that stuff isn’t really inspiring, but taking action is how I build up my esteem for myself, by myself.

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  10. Inspired Minute

    I love this article! We spend so much time taking care of everyone else, that we often forget about ourselves. With this realization, I came up with my own “10 Ways to Love Yourself First” at It’s got lots of great ideas for a bit of self-pampering! Thanks for sharing yours, Sally!