Picture this: Your favorite person in the world walks through the door. Maybe it is your child, your partner, a sibling, a parent or your best friend. That person had an awful day. That person is overcome with grief and self doubt. You listen as that person talks about themselves with words that only produce further anxiety and shame. With tears welling in their eyes, that person you love so dearly points to every flaw on their body and in their character. Flaws you are blind to. What would you do for this person that you love?
I bet you would run to them and wrap your arms around them in a tight embrace. I bet you would validate them and make them feel safe to express themselves openly. I bet you would tell them all the things that are amazing about them, all the reasons you love them. I bet you would highlight their beauty, both inside and out. I bet you would do something, anything that would bring them even a sliver of joy at this moment.
So here’s another question:
Do you ever do this for yourself when you are feeling this way?
Do you give yourself the space and time to process your emotions without judgment? Do you affirm your own beauty and turn your focus onto your other amazing qualities? Do you regularly engage in activities that bring you joy? My guess is, not often enough.
Why is loving ourselves so hard?
Can it be that we feel unworthy of such tender love and care? Do you ever find yourself looking inward and only seeing all the ways you don’t measure up?
- You Are Loved
The first step in cultivating self-love is by first recognizing how loved you already are.
And guess what? You are!
God’s love for you is “unfailing” and “abounding” (Psalm 103:8). You are precious and honored in His sight and nothing you do will ever separate you from His love (Isaiah 43:4). He looks at you and sees every mistake, every flaw and still chooses to dwell within you. He sees you and sees his child, deserving of all the love, grace and good this world has to offer. Right now, in this moment, you are loved just as you are.
- Believe You Are Worthy
The second step is to believe you are worthy of love. When you believe you are worthy of love, your eyes become open to the love that already surrounds you and lies within you.
Now before you list off all the reasons why you are not worthy of love, let me just tell you this: Everyone is worthy of love.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. If everyone treated each other with genuine love and compassion, there would not exist such hatred and acts of violence in this world. Love is the only thing that can abolish hate. And to love is the fulfillment of God’s law. Believe you are worthy of love because it is a fundamental truth and basic human right to all.
- Choose to Love Yourself.
Next, you must choose to love yourself by aligning your actions and behaviors with your decision. Love is a choice and love is reflected in how you treat yourself and how you speak to yourself.
Have empathy with yourself. I am sure there are plenty of things you regret saying and doing. We all do but instead of spending years punishing yourself for those past mistakes, try to have empathy with your younger self. I am not saying to validate your mistakes or even to defend them. You should, however, recognize what you did wrong and how other factors, like your insecurities, past trauma or abuse, might have played a role in what happened. You should then learn from those mistakes and actively work towards becoming the person you want to be. And this all starts with being empathetic and forgiving towards yourself.
Think back and reflect on an experience you are not proud of. With an empathetic heart and mind, what would you say to that younger self? What things do you need to let go and forgive yourself for?
- Align Your Actions to This Choice – Love on Yourself
Next, you want to show yourself love. Remember that love is reflected in action. You already have all the love you need inside of you. In what ways can you show yourself love right now? What words or affirmations do you need to repeat to yourself or write down? What activities can you engage in that will bring you joy? How can you incorporate those activities into your schedule more frequently?
I recommend spending some time alone, journaling, walking, meditating or exercising. Take yourself out on a date. Set a self-love intention for the day. Do for yourself the exact same things you would do for the people you love. The more you do this, the more you will realize that the love you desire can actually be cultivated from within.
- Accept and Receive Love From Others
Lastly, you want to accept and receive the love that comes from the people already in your life. Oftentimes we blind ourselves or reject the love we freely get from others because it does not come from the one source we so desperately want. I used to ignore the abundant love I got from God, my sisters and friends because I was so focused on the love that I was not getting from a significant other or the lack of one. This needs to end.
You are not obligated to reciprocate the same form of love but love in itself is sacred and should be met with gratitude and appreciation no matter who it comes from.
Why does this even matter?
At this point you might be asking yourself, why is all this even important? Why do I have to learn to love myself or meet my own love needs? Because apart from God, you can’t depend on anyone else to make you happy or make you feel loved. The people in your life can and will definitely add to it but ultimately your happiness and sense of worth is entirely up to you. Even the most perfect relationship will eventually come to an end because we are human and our bodies were not created to last forever.
So go ahead and fill your own love tank! If you need more guidance, subscribe to this blog and head on over to @themelavie on Instagram and DM us for more resources and encouragement. Cultivating self love is a never ending journey. Some days will be easier than others but always remember and go back to your fundamental truth: that you are loved right now just as you are and that you are worthy of love. If you hold on tight to this truth, everything else will fall into place.