We’ve all heard it: to really love others, you have to love yourself first. And it’s true. If you don’t show yourself unconditional love, you won’t allow others to truly love you either.
I spent most of my life looking for love from others, but later realized I just needed to look in the mirror. When I started loving me first, everything changed.
The challenge is that our lifestyles today are incredibly focused on success, comparing ourselves to others and having the desire to constantly do MORE.
The Result? We have become our own biggest critics – With a constant focus on our failures rather than our successes.
So when we hear that true love lies first and foremost in loving ourselves, we wonder how on earth we are supposed to move from constant self-criticism to unconditional love. And it seems impossible!
When I started this journey I didn’t like myself very much. The thought of loving myself was almost ridiculous.
Going from self-criticism to self-love in one step is a challenge, so it’s important not to expect a drastic change overnight. Your relationship with yourself is no different than any other in your life – it takes time, attention and effort to make a shift towards loving yourself unconditionally.
So give yourself time to build true self-love step by step. To make it as easy as possible for you, here are the 10 most important steps to create unconditional (self) love:
1. Accept yourself.
If you feel too far from love, start with acceptance.
Accept yourself. Notice the times when you would normally criticize yourself, and instead start saying, "This is me, and that’s OK"."
2. Realize that you are enough.
In a world where people’s worth is judged by how they look, how much they earn, or what they’ve accomplished in life, it often feels difficult to accept that simply being YOU gives you value.
You need nothing more. You don’t need to do or be anything more than you are right now.
You were enough the moment you were born, and you will be enough every second of your entire life. Remind yourself every day and think: I am enough.
3. STOP comparing and judging – right now!
We have learned to compare ourselves to our peers at such a young age. But when you compare yourself to others, you get sucked into conformity, competition, and feeling not enough (see #2).
The truth is that your worth is immeasurable and has nothing to do with it.
Judgment is just another form of comparing, and our judgment of others reflects the judgment we have imposed on ourselves. So when you notice yourself judging someone, find ways to show them compassion instead.
If you offer to others, you’ll probably find it much easier to transfer compassion and understanding to yourself.
4. Respect yourself and set boundaries.
Every good relationship involves respect and healthy (reinforced) boundaries. So respect yourself enough to show it compassionately to the people around you, what is ok for you and what is not. Go ahead and say "no" when you really mean NO, because that’s how you set healthy boundaries!
5. Valuing yourself (so you can value others).
To build a loving relationship with someone, you need to appreciate her/him. Everyone enjoys hearing about the qualities you admire in them.
First, take the time to identify what you appreciate and love about yourself so that you can ultimately do the same for someone else.
6. Take time for your personal "quality time.
Quality time is important in any relationship – a relationship with yourself is no different!
Take time to enjoy the things that really do you good. Spend time with yourself and learn to feel good about it. Go to the movies, spend time doing yoga, cook yourself your favorite meal, or just relax on the couch with your favorite book. Most importantly: Take time for yourself.
7. Trust yourself.
It is important that you trust yourself and look after your interests – do not sacrifice your needs for the needs of those around you. Showing commitment and dedication to yourself is the best thing.
8. Become a master communicator.
Every good relationship relies on positive communication, so take the time to get in touch with yourself. When you do this, you should listen to yourself and pay attention to what you really want and need.
Remember: always speak lovingly to yourself. How would you talk to someone you love? How can you speak more lovingly to yourself?
9. Meet your own needs.
Everyone has needs. And if you want to love yourself unconditionally, you have to make sure that your needs are met. Like? By fulfilling it yourself. You have to be really honest. Do you need time for yourself? Do you have the need for more security and stability in your life? Do you need more adventure? Have to take some time to just "be"?
How to give yourself what you need?
10. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
We give the people we love room to make mistakes. We are compassionate for their challenges and appreciate their efforts. So don’t forget to give yourself some understanding too as you learn to truly love yourself.
Since kindness is one of the keys to love, try to love yourself every day.
Ultimately, a relationship with yourself is just like anything else in life: It takes time and effort to build trust, learn, communicate, and create a loving connection.
And there’s no better feeling than when you finally realize you have a deeply loving, unconditional, mutually fulfilling relationship with yourself.