How to Love Yourself

love yourself

Happy Valentine’s Day from Journey to Joy!  As wonderful as this Hallmark holiday full of love can be, it can also be really painful for some.  Sometimes expectations are not met, no effort is made, and you may feel hurt, let down, or disappointed.  It’s hard to be single this week, and it’s hard to be in a relationship/married if you have a partner that doesn’t try.  If you feel sad about this week, it’s okay.  You aren’t alone.

What I want to remind you, is that you have to take care of you.  This blog is not about others loving you, it is about you learning to love yourself.

A lot of people struggle with loving themselves.  We are often our own worst critics.  We extend grace and compassion to others, but when it comes to ourselves, forget about it!  Every mistake we make, every wrinkle we see in the mirror is scrutinized.  So how can you start to move in a direction where you start to love yourself?

It’s Okay to Not Be Perfect

It’s impossible to be perfect.  Rationally, most of us can acknowledge that out loud.  However, there are a few of you reading this who go “Yeah, but…”  Your brain tries to convince you that you have to be perfect.  Perfectionism can settle differently in each person.  How it looks from person to person can be very diverse.  Some people are perfectionists with their looks and weight.  Others with the image they portray.  Some with their accomplishments.  Other people try to always say the right thing.  And still, others may try to have a perfectly organized house and have all their ducks in a row.

The reality is, perfectionism is often about control and perception.  We want others to perceive that we have it all together.  Then they won’t see how imperfect and broken we really are.

You can’t completely love and accept yourself if you try to be perfect.  You have to embrace the imperfection, and acknowledge that you are going to make mistakes.  And when you do, it’s important that you extend grace to yourself.

On the same note, learning to forgive yourself can be really hard.  For whatever reason, we often are quicker to forgive others than we are ourselves.  Think about something that you beat yourself up about.  It could be a mistake you’ve made, something you’ve said, or even how much weight you’ve gained.  How would it feel to let go of the pressure and the stress, and really accept yourself?  Learning to love yourself AS IS can be freeing.

Take Care of You

It’s important that you take care of yourself—mind, body, and spirit.  So what does this actually look like in practice?  Well, first of all, it means to exercise, eat, healthy, and do things that nourish your body.

Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally.  If you notice you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, make sure that you are utilizing self-care techniques and coping skills.  Self-care isn’t always eating chocolate or taking a bubble bath.  Sometimes it means saying “No” to commitments that would over-extend you, or setting boundaries with people around you.  If you struggle with any of this, make sure you are seeking professional help!  Do things that are soul-filling, such as going to yoga, meeting a friend for coffee, buying yourself flowers for Valentine’s Day, or taking a mental health day from work.

Take care of yourself spiritually.  Pray, meditate, and connect with a faith community.  There is power in recognizing that there is something bigger than all of us out there.  However you feel closest to God, make sure you are doing it—whether it’s by singing worship music, connecting with others, serving, or being in nature.

Find Your Voice

When you struggle with standing up for yourself, it’s hard to respect yourself.  When you don’t respect yourself, you don’t love yourself.  Find your voice and let others around you know what you need from them.  Sometimes this means communicating with your partner that you feel overwhelmed and you need more help around the house.  Sometimes this means telling your boss that you cannot work overtime because you feel so completely burned out.  It can also look like setting boundaries, saying no, and battling falling into codependency.  Being assertive helps you move in the direction of loving yourself because you are communicating what you actually need, versus bottling it up.

There is sometimes a fine line between being assertive and aggressive.  Make sure that you are asserting yourself in a way where you are heard and your needs can be met.  But make sure that you are doing it in a kind and respectful manner.

Growing Older is a Gift

I once had an older, wiser mentor say to me “Growing older is a gift often denied to many”.  How true this is!  Oftentimes we miss out on life because we are so unsatisfied with where we currently are.  We always think that if we just lose that last 10 pounds, get that job promotion, or move to another city, that we will be happy.  The truth is, none of that really makes us happy!

What is the thing that you feel like you need to accept about yourself right now?  Is it the wrinkles you’ve been noticing, the fact that you’re still single, that gray hair that keeps popping up, the career that’s a bust, or those stubborn pounds that just won’t come off?  What would it look like to love yourself as you are right now?  Learn to accept that growing older isn’t something to be despised, but rather something to embrace and celebrate!

Final Thoughts about Loving Yourself

When you learn to love yourself, you project confidence and positive energy around you.  I am a firm believer that you get back what you put out.  If you are a positive person who feels good in their own skin (wrinkles, rolls, gray hairs, and all!), your needs are more likely to get met, people will respect you more, and you will feel better overall in most areas of life.  So what could life look like if you just love yourself today?

*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.

Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.