Think about the last time someone close to you was feeling bad about themselves. Maybe your spouse was doubting their abilities at work or your best friend was blaming herself for a breakup. No matter what they’re facing, you’re always ready with kind words and encouragement. Now imagine you’re the one feeling down or uncertain. Chances are, your inner dialogue is far from that confidence boosting pep talk you gave them.
It’s easy for us to show compassion toward our loved ones. We love them. We believe in them and we want them to be happy. However, for so many of us, we just don’t feel the same about ourselves.
But we should.
Research has show that self-love and self-compassion make people less anxious, happier, more optimistic, and more likely to succeed in reaching health goals. Studies have shown that self-compassion ignites motivation and makes it easier for people to quit smoking or stick with a weight loss plan.
Parents tell their children to eat vegetables and go to bed early because they love them and they want them to be healthy and happy. Just think about the healthy habits you could develop--and the bad ones you could break--if you loved yourself enough to care about your well-being as much as you love your family and friends.
Self-love and self-compassion aren’t easy, but we can learn to do better with a little practice.
There is no one in the entire world who is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete, a Hollywood movie star, or a genius Noble Prize winner--everyone has flaws. Everyone struggles with confidence and doubt. Improving the way you see yourself is all about accepting those shortcomings.
You’re allowed to be imperfect. Just remember that those flaws don’t define you and you’ve got a much longer, and likely much more accurate, list of positive qualities. It’s time to focus on that list instead. It’s a hard thing to do so start by writing all the great things about you. Put down your strengths and abilities, your talents, and your positive traits. If you catch yourself thinking about your flaws, get that list out and remind yourself there’s a lot to love there.
SPEND TIME ALONE
Do you enjoy solo time? Can you go out to the mall, the museum, even a restaurant, with only yourself as company? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Being alone, especially in public, can be uncomfortable and awkward. Don’t worry--that feeling will go away.
Spend some time by yourself in the coming weeks, even if it makes you anxious and self-conscious. Learn to be alone with your thoughts and feelings. Find comfort in your own skin and eventually you’ll enjoy this solo time.
Gratitude is a powerful thing. Reminding ourselves of what we’re thankful for puts a lot of things in perspective. It can be easy to feel bad that our house isn’t big enough, our clothes aren’t nice enough, and our career isn’t as exciting as we had hoped. Be grateful you have a roof over your head, you have clothes to wear, and you have a job.
Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself about these things, or go a step further and volunteer in the community. Give your time to those who are less fortunate, clean up your neighbourhood, or raise funds for a cause that matters to you. Volunteering can help us gain the right perspective and give us an enriching, fulfilling experience.
CREATE A MANTRA
If you struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence, you might find compliments hard to believe, even when they come from our loved ones. If you’ve been telling yourself for years that you’re not smart enough or thin enough, you’ve probably convinced yourself it’s true. Now it’s time to reverse those beliefs. Start telling yourself something nice.
Come up with a self-love mantra. This will be the thing you say to yourself to combat that inner critic. It can be something as simple as “I love myself” or “I am strong” or as unique to your as you like--whatever it is that you want yourself to believe.
Now look in the mirror and say it aloud. It probably feels weird and uncomfortable. That’s ok. Just keep at it. Write it down, tape it to the mirror, keep it in your pocket, make it the wallpaper on your cell phone. Keep repeating it, especially when you’re feeling down, and eventually you’ll start to believe it.
When we start to love ourselves more and show ourselves more compassion, it’s amazing how much better our lives can be. We start to believe that we can be who we want and reach our goals and dreams. We take better care of ourselves, we ignite our passions, build healthier relationships, and generally feel more content. Self-love doesn’t mean we’re self-centred. It means we care about ourselves enough to do what’s best for us and the world around us.