Cultivating Self Love and Compassion

It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves. From little children, we were either being compared to others or comparing ourselves to others at School, in magazines or movies, and now, right at our fingertips, all over social media. This can make us dislike ourselves, and let in shame and negative self-talk. Then, when we’re focusing on all that negativity, it can spiral and become all we feel and attract into our lives.

Our minds are extremely powerful and are capable of immense effects on our bodies. A healthy attitude can’t be under-estimated in the mind-body connection.

You might be focusing more on others; always trying to please and therefore always putting yourself last. I was definitely guilty of this one. I had no self-confidence. In my relationships I would simply morph into whoever I thought they wanted me to be. This can hinder our journey toward loving ourselves, as we start to lose parts of ourselves instead. By putting ourselves last, we lose our purpose and passion, and we can forget who we truly are.

What we need is self-compassion and self-love.

From the Buddhist psychology perspective, self-compassion refers to a way of relating to the self with kindness. When you have self-compassion you understand that your worth is unconditional. People with self-compassion have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion is also shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame and fear of failure.

Self-love, on the other hand, is “a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth”. It is about valuing yourself as a human being who is worthy of love and respect. Self-love is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Being in love with yourself provides you with self-confidence, self-worth and positivity.

Top 10 Tips to Cultivate Self Love

You don’t have to do all of them to see big results, you just need to find the practices that resonate with you and make you feel most at peace and powerful.:

1. Become mindful. Mindfulness is what allows us to become aware of our negative self-talk and identify our difficult feelings and thoughts in order to confront or address them with love and compassion for ourselves. Develop a meditation practice, even if it’s just 2-5 minutes per day to get still and check in with yourself and your body.

2. Start a journal. If you can write down your thoughts and feelings, you can go back at a later date and see how you coped with certain situations. This was one of the most powerful tools I had going through my last breakup. Journaling is a positive way for you to get rid of any negative experiences and feelings, helping you to focus on the good things and learn from the bad.

3. Take care of yourself. This probably seems obvious, but so many of us don’t take time for self-care. People high on self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, good (nutrient rich) food, exercise, quality sleep, intimacy and fulfilling social interactions.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others. The “comparison trap” is the ultimate killer of self-love (and self-esteem), and unfortunately, it’s very easy to fall into these days with the prevalence of social media. It’s ok to look up to or admire others, however, it becomes toxic when we start comparing ourselves to these people or talking down to ourselves because of it. Focus on being more present in your own life, as opposed to being so focused on everyone else. Create beauty in your own life, and know that YOU are beautiful too! Unfollow social media accounts that make you think negatively of yourself. Make an effort to only follow accounts that add value, positivity, and inspiration to your life.

5. Forgive yourself. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes. It’s natural. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes made while we were learning and growing. Accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect; as no one is), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being kinder to yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures. If you have learnt and grown from your mistakes, there are only lessons learned.

6. Trust and protect yourself. Before you can trust others, you must first trust yourself. Learn to listen and trust your gut instincts or intuition. You know better than anyone what is best for you. If something or someone feels “off”, listen to yourself. Attract the right people into your life, don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and my life.”

7. Set healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries is key to cultivating positivity and self-love in your life. Setting boundaries involves being able to say “no” to relationships, activities and work that drains you and creates stress that negatively impacts your life and your happiness. The ability to set these boundaries shows self-love and compassion as you are cutting out the things that harm you. I love this quote by Brene Brown:

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”

8. Make a list of your accomplishments. Creating a list of what you have achieved is a great way to fall in love with yourself. This makes you feel good about yourself, and find happiness from what you have accomplished. We can often focus on the negatives and forget about the positives, so this is a great way to remind yourself of what you have achieved.

9. Create a vision board. Visualising your goals is a great way to feel motivated and excited about your future. You can focus on your dreams and start to love your life and yourself. Create a list of goals you’d like to achieve in the next year, collect a bunch of old magazines with beautiful pictures or quotes. Aim to find pictures or quotes that represent your goals, make a collage and look at it every day for inspiration.

10. Positive affirmations. Self-love affirmations help us to handle our negative feelings about ourselves. They help to increase self-reliance, help you take action with your life, and build self-confidence and self-esteem. For example, “I am worthy of love and joy”, “I love and respect myself for who I am”, “I love myself deeply and fully”.

It is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise just a few of the above self-love tips, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way.

The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relationships. Even more, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.

Jade O’Brien is the go-to Health & Wellness Coach for teenage girls and young women to help improve body image and increase self-love.

Jade’s passion comes from her lifelong battle with her own self-image, which has gained her the experience to make an impact on the lives of people she meets.

Jade’s mission is to see women of all ages feel empowered and live a life full of confidence, self-compassion and love.

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