Self-love can be defined as the love that one has for oneself. It involves the acceptance of your weaknesses and shortcomings and showing compassion despite having flaws.
- What Is Self Love?
- Self-love Vs Narcissism
- Importance Of Self-love
- What Self Love Looks Like?
- Love And Self Love
- Elements Of Self Love
- Self Love Deficit Disorder
- How Does A Lack Of Self-love Affect Us?
- Tips To Practice Self Love
- The Self Love Progress
What Is Self Love?
Self-love is defined by love for oneself and regard for their own well-being and happiness. It involves taking care of your own needs and refraining from pleasing others. A 1988 study 1 pointed out that self-love is found to be a key component of healthy psychological functioning, including self-esteem, motivation, and determination. Self-love involves treating yourself kindly instead of criticizing. It is a practice that requires determination and hard work. A 2010 study 2 found that lack of self-love may contribute to mood and anxiety disorders.
There are several benefits of self-love. Some of them are:
- It eliminates self-sabotaging behaviors
- It helps to let go of comparison
- It satisfies the physical, psychological and spiritual needs
- It allows to respect yourself
- It builds self-esteem and confidence
This form of love for yourself is often identified as ‘self-positivity bias’ by psychologists. Experts believe that when done in a healthy manner, it can help to improve determination, motivation and self-esteem. “Positively biased self-views are argued to be a key component of healthy psychological functioning,” explains a 2015 study 3 . However, just like a lack of self-love or self-negativity bias, excessive or unrealistic self-positivity bias can have some negative effects, such as narcissistic tendencies, self-centered views and distorted perceptions.
Self-love Vs Narcissism
Many people mistake self-love with narcissism. However, the fact is that self-love is completely different from narcissism. People who have high self-esteem 4 and confidence don’t require recognition for their accomplishments. They are completely aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Their accomplishments are more internal-based, unlike narcissists. Those who love themselves accept their flaws and work towards improving them. They are empathetic towards others’ emotions and they offer advice and assistance to those who need it.
Narcissism 5 can be defined as a person who is extremely self-involved and can go to extreme lengths to achieve their personal goals despite hurting someone else. A Narcissist’s personality is characterized by grandiosity, vanity, entitlement, and exploitativeness. They act as though they do not have any flaws. They go out of their way to prove their partners or others wrong. Narcissists are never really happy with any aspect of their life. They believe that they deserve better without putting in any effort and hard work. Narcissists don’t care about others and they always require someone to feed their ego. However, one 2012 study 6 has found that self-preferences “prevail at an implicit level, because they facilitate self-serving automatic behavior, which favors the self in life-or-die situations – also a major evolutionary advantage.”
Importance Of Self-love
Loving yourself is an integral part of human life. Self-love can be defined as a way to live in alignment with the values you set for yourself. It is important because it allows you to make time for yourself and to replenish yourself. Self-love also has an important role to play in your ability to be more resilient. When we begin to be more self-compassionate we begin to gain confidence and learn to accept ourselves the way we are. This leads to an increase in happiness in our lives. It is important to learn how to forgive yourself for all the mistakes or failures you may have made. We face challenges every day but self-love helps us to overcome them.
Self-love is also an essential part of building healthy relationships. In fact, the way we love ourselves determines how other people are going to love us. If we don’t respect ourselves, others may notice it and think it’s okay to disrespect us as well. Learning to trust yourself is a great way to know what’s right for you. This helps to walk away from situations that don’t serve you. When you truly learn to love about yourself, you have zero tolerance for anything less than what you deserve. This allows you to learn to set healthy boundaries and protect your energy. Practicing self-love is also beneficial. One 2017 study 7 found that “Growing evidence indicates that self-compassion is associated with better physical health.” Another 2009 study 8 revealed that loving yourself and being kind to yourself can lead to a number of “psychological benefits without generating the negative effects associated with enhanced self-esteem,” such as narcissism. It also provides greater life satisfaction and gives a more positive attitude towards life. When we learn to love ourselves we change our perspectives about the world.
What Self Love Looks Like?
Some of the examples of what self-love really looks like are as follows:
- Telling positive things to yourself
- Prioritizing your physical and mental health
- Spending time with friends and family
- Letting anger and grudges go
- Accepting yourself the way you are
- Accepting your emotions and feelings
- Following your desires and goals
- Challenging yourself to be a better person
- Setting achievable and realistic goals
- Treating yourself
- Taking note of your progress
- Forgiving yourself when you go wrong
- Refusing others to take advantage of you
- Following the values you set for yourself
Love And Self Love
Love is an emotion characterized by passion, intimacy, desire, and commitment. It begins when an individual feels affection towards another individual which involves considering the other person as special or unique. But loving someone often stems from self love. Some of the things to keep in mind when you want to love another person are that love comes from within and you choose how you want to feel. If you love someone and you often tend to mistreat them, then you aren’t really loving them. Our love for others is a representation of how we feel and love ourselves. How you love yourself or abuse yourself will be a direct reflection in your relationships. So if you neglect your body, mind and heart, so will our partner. Hence, it is essential to keep in mind how you treat yourself. Loving yourself is the key to maintaining a happy relationship with your significant other or building a new one.
Elements Of Self Love
When you begin to love yourself, other people around you can live in harmony with you because they don’t have to deal with your unresolved issues. There are four main elements of self-love. They are as follows:
Self-awareness can be defined as the state of becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and how they affect you and your surroundings. An important aspect of self-love is to become aware of what makes us happy, sad, angry, demotivated, euphoric, pissed or any other emotion. Being aware of oneself is an integral part of emotional intelligence, which can be defined as the ability to understand and manage your emotions in an effective and positive way. People with high emotional intelligence can process their emotions effectively. Being self-aware can help you to remove yourself from situations that will trigger unwanted emotions and reactions. A 2014 study 9 pointed out that the anterior cingulate cortex located in the frontal lobe region plays a significant role in developing self-awareness. Brain imaging studies have shown that this region becomes activated in adults who are self-aware.
Self-esteem can be defined as an individual’s sense of self-worth or value. Self-worth is the belief that we are valuable despite our failures or achievements. “Self-esteem is a simplistic term for varied and complex mental states pertaining to how one views oneself” explains a 2003 study 10 . It is also closely related to our mental health and the development of psychiatric disorders, according to researchers 11 . This is why it is crucial that we practice self-love in order to build a healthy self-esteem.
Our self-esteem depends on several factors. They can include:
- Feeling a sense of security
- Feeling competent
- Sense of belonging
Self-esteem is an integral part of self-love as it plays a significant role in decision-making processes, emotional health, and relationships. People with high self-esteem are firm decision-makers and have a firm understanding of their skills. They are also capable of maintaining healthy relationships with other people because of having a healthy relationship with themselves. They understand what they need and are capable of addressing them. Some of the other signs of healthy self-esteem are:
- A positive outlook towards life
- Accept failures and weaknesses
- Express needs
3. Self Worth
Self-worth is often used as a synonym for self-esteem. It can be defined as one’s ability to understand their worth or value as a person. Building self-worth is an essential part of life. Some of the ways you can achieve self-worth are:
- Stop comparing yourself with others
- Remember that your bank account, job title, appearance, or social media following doesn’t determine your self worth
- Identifying and challenging your over critical inner voice
- Increase your self-understanding
- Boost your self-acceptance
An important part of self-love is understanding your value so you can understand what to accept and what not to.
Self-care can be defined as a state wherein the individual takes responsibility for their physical and mental health. A 2010 study 12 states “Self-care has been defined quite simply as the set of activities in which one engages throughout life on a daily basis.” Some of acts of self-care include:
- Having a balanced diet
- Staying hydrated
- Doing things we love
- Taking a bath
- Listening to good music
- Watching good movies
Self-care also means being mindful of the things you eat, what you watch, what you listen to, and how you spend your time. Self-care is the best way to start discovering yourself and practice self-love.
Self Love Deficit Disorder
Self love deficit disorder can be defined as a condition characterized by codependency and being in unhealthy and unbalanced relationships. The absence of self love can result in deep seated insecurities that can make the individual fail to set powerful boundaries. A 1992 study 13 found a significant correlation between depression and having a significant other likely to be dependent. Some of the signs of self love deficit disorder are:
- Having weakness and emotional fragility
- Being codependent
- Giving up power
- Having a lack of self esteem
- Having lack of self respect
- Feeling lonely
- Feeling isolated, unloved and unsafe
People with this condition often suffer from pathological loneliness. Hence, they are more prone to codependency addiction. Codependency addiction is a condition characterized by a desperate need to be in relationships that will ease their pathological loneliness. This addiction becomes their drug of choice and enables them to pursue their lifelong drive for love.
How Does A Lack Of Self-love Affect Us?
Lack of self-love can have several negative effects on an individual’s life. They can include:
- Increasing levels of anxiety
- Increasing likelihood of depression
- Feeling overwhelmed with life challenges
- Being stuck in unhealthy relationships
- Doubting yourself and your potential
- Comparing yourself to others
- Having a lack of self-acceptance
- Feeling unworthy
- Feeling inferior
- Making choices that you regret later
- Having a lack of self esteem
Tips To Practice Self Love
Self love has a major role to play in mental health. Research 8 suggests that self compassion offers most of the benefits of high self esteem. A 2007 study 14 found that self compassion moderated negative emotions after receiving ambivalent feedback, particularly for participants who were low in self esteem. Self-love is about focusing on your emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Here are some tips to practice self-love:
1. Don’t compare
Our constant exposure to social media and our easy access to the internet leads us to compare ourselves. Embrace the uniqueness in you and refrain from comparing yourself with other people. Focus on your journey and how you can be better than you were yesterday.
2. Exercise regularly
Self-love also means nourishing your body. Exercising regularly is a great way to show your body love. Regular exercise has a range of benefits. A 2016 study 15 found that regular exercise can improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. Other benefits include:
- Reduces the risk of heart attack 16
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Makes you feel happier 17
- Increases your energy levels 18
- Promotes skin health 19
- Promotes brain health and memory 20
3. Focus on what it feels like to be loved
Loving yourself means appreciating your hard work instead of criticizing and judging yourself. If you are someone who loves themselves, it is important to show yourself kindness and compassion just like you would to someone you love.
4. It is okay to make mistakes
Self-love is also about cutting yourself some slack. It is not important to be perfect all the time. Make room for mistakes and learn from them. We are always growing and changing and it is important to realize that all mistakes are disguised as lessons.
5. Let go of toxic people
Toxic people can drain your energy. As a person who loves themselves, it becomes your responsibility to cut out anyone who brings toxicity in your life. Don’t be afraid to walk away from things or people that don’t serve you. Self-love means protecting your energy and it is important to remove yourself from situations that are draining you.
6. Trust yourself
Self-love also means building a foundation of trust with yourself. Your feelings are valid and whatever decisions you make on the basis of that are right. No one knows you better than you do, so trust your instincts and make decisions accordingly.
7. Put yourself first
Putting yourself first is an essential part of self-love. Even if you are putting someone else first, it shouldn’t cost you your emotional or mental well-being. Some of the ways you can put yourself first are:
- Listen to yourself
- Make yourself a priority
- Learn to say “No”
- Make time for yourself
8. Practice mindfulness
The journey of self-love is challenging. One of the best ways to exercise self-love is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means becoming aware of the present moment. Look around and appreciate all the things that you are grateful for. There are several ways to practice mindfulness, such as:
- Gratitude journal
- Long walks
- Five-minute journal
- Breathing exercises
A 2011 study 21 pointed out that mindfulness has various psychological benefits including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. Writing down your thoughts, journaling, doing daily mindful activities to calm your mind is an excellent way to nurture your soul. Self-love is about taking care of yourself and doing what makes you happy.
9. Eat healthy
Eating healthy is also a great way to express self-love. Enrich your diet with fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and others that make you feel good from the inside. Taking care of your body and what you eat has plenty of benefits. They are:
- Improves heart health
- Improves gut health
- Boosts immunity
- Improves cognitive function
- Reduces stress
A 2017 study 22 found that fresh fruits and vegetables supply energy as well as dietary fiber which promotes the feeling of satiety and has positive effects on gastrointestinal function, cholesterol levels, and glycemic control.
The Self Love Progress
Self-love is a lifelong journey that involves celebrating your achievements without comparing them with others. The meaning of self-love may differ from one person to the other. It all depends on how you treat yourself.References:
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