“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” – Diane Von Furstenberg
Why should we love ourselves first? It’s a straightforward response: why shouldn’t you? Why shouldn’t you admire and respect yourself, treat yourself well and make yourself happy. Why shouldn’t I love myself first?
In our feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness, we forget how to let down those walls, how to face raw emotions healthily and how to express them with meaning.
Loving yourself means accepting yourself. It means trusting yourself, having belief in yourself and being open to the fact that you are worthy of love. When we love ourselves, we start to see ourselves clearly, without fears or doubts. Above all else, it makes us happy.
What are the benefits of loving ourselves:
- Improved relationships with others.
- Greater self-confidence and a healthier way of thinking.
- Improved mental health.
- Greater self-belief and trust.
- Greater overall joy of life.
Plus, many others. And all of these works together to help improve our work life, our creativity, our identities, helps us achieve our goals and form genuine relationships with people in our life.
We live in a society where we are made to believe that putting ourselves first makes us selfish. So, when we take time to look after ourselves, we feel guilty.
Artist Julia Cameron writes: “We focus not on our responsibilities to ourselves, but on our responsibilities to others. We tend to think such behaviour makes us good people. It doesn’t. It makes us frustrated people.”
I have a habit of thinking about everything I need to do for other people, chores around the house, deadlines, generally trying to meet everyone’s expatiations. On those days, my mental health suffers. On the days where I stop caring about those things, the days I write and bake and paint and use each hour to spend my time doing the things I love, I am happy, and I am happier with other people.
The cycle of selfishness and guilt builds a resentment towards other people that can have severely negative impacts on our relationships with them, and our relationships in the future.
We have to give ourselves permission to be kind to ourselves, we have to remind ourselves to look after ourselves. Self-care dominates the media with reminders and tips on how to care for yourself.
You already know how to care for yourself. You know what makes you happy, you know what restores your energy, your faith, what makes you feel well rounded and whole.
Loving yourself first doesn’t detract from the love you give out to others, if anything, it makes it better. When you are happy, content, at peace with yourself, its so much easier to project those good feelings outwards.
“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honoured guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” – Margo Anand
So, how do we love ourselves?
- Take yourself on a date: To the cinema, to a meal, to the beach or the park or for coffee. Spend some time alone, doing something you love.
- Give yourself a break: Forgiving yourself for failures, easing your workload and let yourself stop when you need to.
- Stand up for yourself: Learn your boundaries, learn your limits and protect them. Stand up for the aspects of yourself that you love, for your beliefs and goals.
- Incorporate self-care: Yes, face masks are great, but make sure you look after yourself with good meals, go to bed at a reasonable time. Looking after yourself physically is essential.
- Be verbal: Or written, either one. Write down everything you like about yourself, all your accomplishments, all your talents. Write down every negative thought too, every fear and doubt to expel them from your mind. Often, when we speak these tings aloud or see them written down, it’s easier to deal with them.
- Go to therapy: If you’re dealing with severe self-doubt, stress, depression, or if you need someone to talk to, make that little effort, give yourself that hour a week to yourself to work on your mental health. You are allowed to seek help and it is a priority.
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.” – Charles Bukowski