How To Learn Self-Love – And Is It Even Possible?
Totally! Self-love can be learned and here are some great exercises to help you along your journey. Real Self-Love is the key to a happy life, true satisfaction, and ultimately real prosperity. It frees us from the constant craving for the approval of others and we get the confidence of being enough as we are.
Genuine self-love goes far beyond a few positive affirmations in front of the mirror and the weekly wellness bath. Self-love is also not a common emotion, like sadness or anger. It is a state, a choice, and a process that we commit to on a daily basis.
Definition of Self-Love: What is it?
Self-love is the complete acceptance of oneself. It means having a high regard for our own well-being and happiness. Self-love includes taking care of our own needs and desires and not sacrificing our well-being to please others.
In order to love ourselves, we must first know ourselves properly. We should be aware of our desires, values, talents, inclinations, roles, and abilities, as well as our weaknesses and flaws. All these elements can be summarized under the term self-knowledge. We must know who we are before we are able to develop true self-love.
Self-love means that we are aware of ourselves, and know our strengths and weaknesses. We accept and embrace ourselves as we are.
Egoism, selfishness or narcissism are often used as synonyms for self-love. But these terms have nothing in common with genuine self-love. Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-care would probably fit best as synonyms.
Why Is It So Difficult to Build And Practice Self-Love?
“You must love yourself!” or “Accept yourself as you are!”
Phrases that we all know, but unfortunately, that’s easier said than done:
The belly is too big, the legs are too short, the career is not steep enough, the partner is criticizing us and there is the constant feeling of not being good enough.
Genuine self-love is difficult for many people. Since our childhood, we are often conditioned by our parents and society to fulfill certain expectations in order to become a successful and lovable person. That’s why many of us focus on our flaws and imperfections since our early years. Limiting beliefs like “I’m not good enough!” or “I’m worthless!” are part of the mindset of many people.
After all, only those who get good grades, wear the right clothes, and are among the best in gym class are lovable.
The constant comparison with others and all the expectations that have to be met every day make it difficult to accept and love oneself. This continues into adulthood, where success and social status are often tied to our income level and the fulfillment of all the roles we have.
With all that said it is far too easy to forget ourselves and our own needs and desires. After all, no one wants to be perceived as selfish or egoistic.
Feelings like constant dissatisfaction, inner conflicts, self-doubt, low self-worth, self-rejection, and sometimes even self-loathing are common if we lack self-love.
Genuine self-love is the foundation for a happy life!
How can we share love without having it ourselves?
How can we be there for others when we are feeling out of balance?
How to give energy to others when we feel powerless?
22 Self-Love Exercises – How to Practice Self-Love and be Confident
As mentioned, self-love is an ongoing process and a choice that has to be renewed every day. If you want a step-by-step plan along the way, we suggest taking a look at the Self-Love Toolkit.
1) My Mission: Why do I want More Self-Love? What is my WHY?
As mentioned earlier, true self-love is a choice and a process. Try to become aware of why you want to bring more self-love into your life, what self-love means to you and what benefits it has for your life. The more precisely you know your “WHY”, the easier it will be to stick to your plan and to follow through on the journey towards more self-love.
2) Practice Mindfulness, Introspection, and Self-Awareness
Learn to observe your thoughts, feelings, reactions, and actions consciously. Over time you will understand them better and better. Self-Awareness, Introspection and Self-Reflection are the foundation to build Self-Love and a great way to get to know yourself in depth. Journaling is a perfect tool for this purpose. Write down your observations and simply reflect on everyday situations.
3) How to Gain Self-Love: Self-Exploration – Who am I?
Self-exploration gives you insights into your true desires, values, ideas, character traits, and everything else that makes you unique.
Our modern society is dominated by the media, certain education and belief systems, as well as external values. Many people are so focused on the outside world that they completely lose sight of what is going on inside of them.
A lot of people are unsatisfied, unhappy, and somehow feel stuck. They ask themselves who they really are and they feel like living on a hamster wheel. They sense something is wrong and that there’s more in life than chasing just the newest smartphone and watching the latest episode of their favorite series.
The reason for this feeling is the fact that many people are not aware of their individual needs, desires, talents, wishes, and abilities. As a result, they cannot express themselves as they would like.
They are looking for happiness and satisfaction on the outside instead of finding it within themselves. Many live a life against their true nature. This ultimately leads to all the popular and common stress-related diseases, constant dissatisfaction, and mental illnesses. The Self-Love Toolkit includes various self-exploration exercises.
4) Cultivate Self-Love by Examining All Your Labels
Our thoughts, emotions, and actions are often shaped and somehow dominated by external influences. Since our early childhood, we accept certain roles and are influenced by our culture and social environment. That’s why each of us has a variety of labels that stick to us. These labels are being used to define ourselves. Others use them to classify us and put us into categories and boxes.
We identify with these labels and think that’s what defines our personality. Whenever we start a sentence with “I am a…” it is often a label we give ourselves.
Labeling ourselves helps us to be part of a group. We then (often unconsciously) adopt a certain opinion and behavior to conform to this label.
Our values, behaviors, and beliefs are influenced by our roles, culture, and labels. Here is an exercise to help you recognize what of it corresponds with the real you and what you may have simply unconsciously adopted.
5) Handling Your Roles in Life
Mother, daughter, wife, friend, boss, colleague. We all have countless roles in our daily lives. Some voluntarily, others involuntarily.
Become aware of all your roles in life. Analyze where they come from, how they affect your life, whether they correspond with your true personality and whether you would like to adjust or change something.
Sometimes our different roles also lead to inner conflicts. Performing all of them makes us feel torn or stressed out and we often don’t even know the reason why.
Here’s a Self-Love worksheet included that will bring more clarity. You will examine the origins of all your roles and consciously decide how you want to handle them in the future. Get back in the driver’s seat of your life!
6) Resolve Inner Conflicts And Feel Free Again – Work on Your Self Love
So-called inner conflicts can make us doubt, feel sad, and cause unhappiness or even illness.
We are often not even aware of the ongoing conflicts within us as they are usually suppressed. They throw us off balance, drain our energy, and we don’t understand what’s wrong with us. Many of these inner conflicts are going on for years, some of them even since our childhood.
Typical inner conflicts are role conflicts, decision-making conflicts, conflicts of desire, and value conflicts.
The Self-Love Toolkit includes an exercise that will help you to identify inner conflicts and find ways to resolve them. As a result, you will feel much more balanced and free. Exploring and resolving inner conflicts is another big building block toward more self-love and satisfaction in life.
7) Self-Acceptance – Making Peace With Things You Can’t Change
Self-acceptance is the ability to accept ourselves as we are. It is a very important part of the self-love journey.
Almost everyone is familiar with the inner voice that tells us we are not good enough. We curse ourselves for not being able to do certain things or criticize how we look. Lack of self-acceptance is also a big issue for many perfectionists.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of making peace with the things we can’t change. Nobody is perfect and if we learn to accept ourselves as we are, we have taken a huge step on our path to more self-love and genuine happiness in life.
8) Self-Love Exercise – Practice Self-Forgiveness: How To Forgive Me
All of us make mistakes from time to time. As humans, we’re imperfect, but perfect at the same time. Making peace and moving forward is often easier said than done. Being able to forgive ourselves requires empathy, compassion, kindness, and understanding.
Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean ignoring our mistakes. It means taking personal responsibility and taking a close look at what we can do better next time to learn and grow from our experiences.
Forgiving ourselves reduces feelings of guilt and is excellent self-respect training. Here’s a great self-forgiveness worksheet included.
9) Living Your True Self – Becoming Aware of Your Values And Living By Them
Our personal values and our core of being are the things that define us, that are important to us and that we truly believe in. Ideally, our actions are always in line with what we truly believe and feel. Once this is the case, we automatically feel more satisfied and life will be much easier.
Expressing all these things and living by them is the foundation, for an authentic life. It ultimately enables us to live to our full potential. It is also the key to true satisfaction, happiness, and health, which is ultimately true prosperity.
The better we know our personal values and our innermost being, the more likely we are to live according to them and make our everyday life more satisfying. This is another essential building block to more self-respect and self-love.
10) Knowing And Setting One’s Boundaries – Just Say “No!” From Time to Time
Saying “No” and setting boundaries is incredibly difficult for most people. Yet it is so important for one’s own satisfaction and health. Notorious people pleasers will feel powerless, exhausted, and have the feeling of neglecting themselves sooner or later.
Setting boundaries is an essential part of healthy self-respect and true self-love. It is the respect for one’s own needs and desires. It’s important to respect others, but we shouldn’t forget ourselves and know our boundaries. The Self-Love Toolkit includes a great boundary-setting exercise.
11) STOP Comparing Yourself to Others – A Great Self-Love Exercise
Constantly comparing ourselves to others is one of the safest ways to become unhappy and unsatisfied. It starts in our early years: We are confronted with role models that one should emulate in order to be considered a successful and lovable person.
Instead, it would make much more sense to focus on our own qualities, talents, desires, and traits and develop them further, and while doing so express our unique personalities. The exercise included in the Self-Love Worksheets Toolkit is a real eye-opener and helps to escape the comparison trap once and for all.
12) Forget The Idea That You Have to Be Perfect
Another building block on the path to more self-love is to overcome perfectionism – in every way. There is no perfect body, no perfect intellect, and no perfect human being. Especially today social media keeps blinding us with images that have nothing to do with reality.
13) Cultivate Gratitude – Another Way To Increase Self-Love
Focus your attention on the present and avoid the constant striving for higher, faster, and better. Become aware of all your positive traits and everything you’ve already accomplished. Remind yourself what is going well, what you are happy about, and what gives you joy. A gratitude journal is the best tool when it comes to making yourself aware of these things.
14) Accept The Fact That You Can’t Control Everything
You can control your thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions. But there are plenty of things that are out of our control. These may be the decisions and viewpoints of others, for example. Make peace with the fact that you simply have no control over certain things. Avoid trying to control everything and everyone and focus on yourself instead.
15) Eat Healthier! – Learn to Love Yourself And Improve Your Diet
Our diet affects our mental and physical health. Try to eat consciously and healthily. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy something less healthy from time to time, but everything with moderation.
A particularly dangerous threat to our self-love is the feeling of guilt many people have after binge eating.
16 ) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is the foundation for mental and physical health and ultimately true self-love. Think about how you could exercise regularly, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk on your way to work!
17) Practice Self-Love By Letting Go Of Toxic Relationships
Step away from toxic relationships that are negatively impacting your life. Make a list of who is around you and reflect on who gives you energy and who is only taking energy from you. Think about how you want to deal with these people in the future.
Strengthen your relationship with people who give you energy and who positively influence your life.
Here are some invaluable resources on relationships:
- How to Resolve Conflicts in Relationships – 15 Tips to Overcome Relationship Problems
- 14 Powerful Couples Therapy Worksheets & Exercises (Relationship Coaching)
- 26 Must-Try Couples Therapy Exercises And Activities
18) Meditate Regularly
Take a time-out each day to calm your mind. Breathe in and out, push thoughts and stress aside, and just be in the moment. Meditation is an ideal tool on the path to more mindfulness, balance, and self-love.
19) Love Yourself and Be Confident By Building Your Resilience
Resilience is our ability to respond well to challenges and setbacks, persist in the face of failure rather than give up, cope effectively with stress, and recover from difficult experiences.
Read more about building Resilience:
- Factors of Resilience – 7 Skills to Master the Art of Resilience
- Building and Training Resilience: 13 Tips and Exercises You Need to Know
- 15 Powerful Resilience Building Worksheets & Exercises
20) Dealing With Political Correctness And Cancel Culture
Over the last few years, the concepts of political correctness and cancel culture created a narrowing „corridor of opinions“ that are „acceptable“. Society and the media create a climate in which many people are afraid to express an opinion that is not corresponding with the majority.
They are afraid of being judged by others or fear consequences such as job loss or being excluded from a certain group. The suppressed self-expression can ultimately lead to frustration, discouragement, long-term sadness, or even depression and anxiety. People feel uncomfortable and restricted.
We get the feeling that something is wrong with us when everyone else around us expresses a different opinion. A building block for true self-love is self-expression. It is therefore necessary to handle these circumstances well and to continue to express our thoughts and opinions in society without fear.
21) No Time For Yourself?
Many people claim that they simply have no time for themselves. This is a priority and time management problem! Think about which activities you can reduce in order to have more time for yourself. You can find some tips here and some valuable exercises in the Work-Life-Balance and Time-Management Toolkit.
22) Create a Self-Care Plan – One Of the Most Important Self-Love Exercises
Practicing self-care regularly is indispensable for true self-love and fulfilling life. But it goes far beyond the occasional weekend wellness bath and should instead become an integral part of our daily routine.
Real self-care means being good to yourself on a daily basis and listening to your needs. Think about good things you can do for yourself on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis A self-care plan is included in the Self-Love Toolkit.
How To Love Yourself – Self-Love Exercises – Conclusion
Self-love is the key to true satisfaction and happiness in life, which is ultimately true prosperity!
True prosperity includes being healthy, having harmonious relationships, and having our life-enhancing desires easily fulfilled.
Self-love frees you from constantly striving for the approval of others and gives you the confidence to be enough for yourself. Learning self-love is a process and a choice we make every day.