The art of self love is one that I feel isn't appreciated enough. I've noticed that we often overlook how much power we hold in ourselves to help ourselves; in my case, I'm trying to work through my habit of depending on others before even trying to empower myself. But that self-empowerment is one of the most vital steps to being the best, strongest version of yourself, and it consists of a few key elements: self appreciation and acceptance, self care, self honesty, self compassion, and self expression.
Channeling self love through these different branches can be done in a variety of ways, and I believe one of the most important ways is listening to your body. Listening to your body is all about acknowledging your mental or physical wellbeing, which includes trusting your intuition, allowing yourself to take a mental break when you need one, and acknowledging all of your feelings, such as tiredness, being burnt out, hungry, restless, upset, and unsafe. Empower yourself by connecting your mind and body, respecting your body and its needs, and nourishing your mental and physical health with what it needs in the moment. This all must be done in a healthy and conscious way, however; you may feel like your body wants to sleep all day, but self love is also about finding a balance where you're able to feel relaxed but also energized. Exercise is an example of this balance; I like to show appreciation to my body by exercising every day, but the way I do so varies on how I'm feeling. If I don't feel like I can do anything too intense, I won't, and will just go for a walk instead. However, if I'm feeling more energized one day, I'll do a more rigorous workout. There's nothing wrong with listening to what your body is telling you, and the last thing you want to do is push yourself to an unhealthy extent. This is self awareness; nurturing your physical and emotional health with what it needs in the moment.
Self honesty is another form of self awareness, and allows us to assess our strengths and weaknesses, our needs, and priorities, and self reflect so we can heal. Sometimes, we can deceive ourselves as an attempt to avoid pain or shame, but accepting ourselves and our ups and downs is what will help us thrive. Some ways I practice self honesty are separating what I want from what I need so I can gain clarity on what is the healthiest for me, and accepting the times I need help and can't just expect things to get better if I'm not making an effort. Self honesty can be a hard pill to swallow, but has been one of the aspects of self love that has helped me the most. While it may feel easier to continue to deceive ourselves from the truth, choosing to be honest with ourselves will prove to be the most beneficial in the long run.
This brings us to self acceptance, which, in part, is also accepting life's ups and downs so we can grow strong enough to work through them. Self acceptance is also accepting what we consider to be our weaknesses for what they are and learning to be satisfied. It's definitely hard to love everything about yourself, because as humans we're our own biggest critics, but simply coming to terms with our mistakes and flaws will help us focus on determining our self worth on what really matters: our strengths and capabilities. Self acceptance is one of the hardest things for me to practice, but one way I like to protect my positive energy is to tell myself three positive affirmations about myself every time I put myself down with one negative affirmation. I typically integrate this practice as a form of body positivity, because like any other person, I have days where I’m feeling insecure. For example, if I put myself down by telling myself something negative about my body, I find it immensely helpful in grounding myself in appreciating my health in identifying three things about my physical and emotional self that I love.
Self care is one of my favorite forms of self love, and it's pretty simple. To me, self care is all about indulging in things to help me relax, and it's not something to be overlooked. While it may seem like we simply don't have time for self care, you'll find that self care helps keep us motivated and productive, preserves a positive mindset, and prevents burn out. I sometimes have to remind myself that I'm not a robot, and I need time to reward myself with time to relax in order to preserve and protect my energy. Some of my favorite forms of self care are baking, taking a bath, doing a hair mask, and sleeping in when I can. It's super important to remember that we aren't meant to be multitasking machines (and it's definitely not a competition) it's healthiest to make time to show love to ourselves.
Self compassion is something that I can guarantee we all need to show a little more to ourselves. Self compassion is all about forgiving ourselves and being understanding and kind to ourselves, just like we would with someone else. Many of us are quick to be compassionate with others, whether it's forgiving those who have wronged us or giving others care and attention. Yet, we can feel we aren't worth this compassion ourselves, when it's completely the opposite. It's ourselves who are so full of love and kindness that we are able to show it to others, so in order to keep this kindness in our hearts, we have to nurture ourselves in the same way. We deserve to forgive ourselves for our mistakes so we can move on. We deserve to show the same understanding that we would show someone else who's made a mistake. We deserve to be attentive of our own needs and treating ourselves the way we treat others, and how we would want to be treated! One thing I've learned is that I can't expect others to treat me a certain way when I can't even show myself compassion because I feel that I don't deserve it.
Finally, we have self expression. I look at self expression as a way as embracing and loving my authentic self. In a way, self expression is a form of self appreciation, as we can foster self expression simply through recognizing our individuality. Some of my favorite forms of self expression are through music, personal style, the words I choose to speak, and the way I hold myself. One of the main benefits of self expression is feeling a greater freedom within ourselves to share ourselves with the rest of the world, and thus feeling fulfilled with our true, authentic selves. Self expression is also a leverage for inspiration, and through my own experiences of self expression, I've found that I can feel the most inspired simply by embracing who I am!
Self love is one of the key elements to feeling at peace with ourselves, and I personally find comfort in the endless ways that it can be practiced. If anyone has a favorite way that they practice self love, please share it with us down below!