Self-love, also referred to as self-compassion, is the ability to relate to oneself in a way that does not involve harshly judging or punishing oneself. The concept seems simple enough, and yet it can be one of the most difficult things to put into practice. Often, when feeling down about ourselves, we are quick to jump to quick fixes, like a new haircut, an online shopping spree, some new makeup, or even a new relationship. However, what many people fail to realize is that while this may create a short-term boost of confidence, self-love does not stem from things. Rather, it stems from actions.

Self-love is more than a feeling

Self-love is not just a good feeling, in which case things may do just the trick.

Instead, confidence is an ongoing state of appreciation for oneself, which requires continuous action in order to grow. While some people may dismiss self-love as corny, APA Org cites a study by Walsh & Shapiro, 2006, that showed that individuals who practice more compassion toward themselves experience a variety of benefits, leading to an overall healthier, more productive, and happier life. Some of these benefits are as follows:

  • Increased happiness and life satisfaction: When you appreciate yourself, you can more easily appreciate life. Holding yourself in high esteem leads to increased enjoyment and a more positive outlook toward the future.
  • Higher chance of reaching health goals: Often, people have a hard time wrapping their heads around this one. “How would accepting myself lead me to exercise more? Wouldn’t accepting myself wholly mean trading in the whole exercise thing for Netflix and pizza?” Practising self-love does not mean not seeing room for improvement. It just means you care enough to value all parts of you. When you practice self-love, you tend to value your health more and, as a result, are more likely to adopt healthy habits, helping you to reach those fitness goals.
  • Improved mental health: In addition to increasing an individual’s level of optimism, self-respect has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. This is because, when an individual develops a more positive relationship with themselves, they are less likely to get lost in negative thinking and feeling. Increased self-love has even been shown to help individuals struggling with addiction.
  • Increased performance and decreased procrastination: When an individual has higher levels of self-love, they tend to have fewer doubts about themselves, leading to decreased levels of performance anxiety, stress, and procrastination. This, in turn, allows them to approach a project with all of their energy rather than wasting some of it on thoughts of failure or by procrastinating.
  • Increase Your Own Self Love

Actions to build your level of self-love

  • Mindfulness: The first and most powerful step toward increasing self-love is being mindful of the thoughts running through your mind at the time of a mistake or a self-comparison. Pay attention to these thoughts and feelings with an open and curious mind. Do not judge them and do not identify with them. By stopping and paying attention to them, you not only gain familiarity with the negative voice in your head, your ego, but you also start to realize that this voice does not necessarily convey truth.
  • Kindness: Once you’ve identified this voice in your head and the feelings that come with it, think about the dialogue you are having with yourself and whether or not you would ever speak to a friend that way. Odds are you wouldn’t even talk to an enemy that way. Practice flipping the dialogue you are having with yourself to reflect how you would speak to a friend.
  • Humanity: Remember that mistakes are part of being human. You can’t avoid them. So embrace them. Laugh at them, learn from them, and move on.