Love is an incredible force. Feeling love uplifts us, changes the way we view life and leads to greater health, happiness and wellbeing.
More often than not, we direct our love outwards to the people who surround us. And while this is a wonderful thing, it is also important for us to love ourselves. Contrary to what we are sometimes taught, self-love is not selfish. Instead, it is fundamental to living at our fullest – and to giving our best to the world around us.
What is self-love?
Self-love is honouring who we are and treating ourselves with care. Loving ourselves resources us from within, supporting us to be healthy and strong. It enables us to make wise and courageous decisions. And it helps us to live according to our deepest values, needs and passions.
The relationship with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship in our lives. When we know how to love and respect ourselves, we can relate better to others. Treating ourselves well also creates a precedent for others to treat us the same way. And with time, self-love makes it easier to let go of those relationships and situations that are not good for us.
Self-love doesn’t always come easily. It’s a practice and an ongoing process. But it is worth the effort. Cultivating a loving connection with ourselves enriches our lives and those of everyone around us, supports our development and allows us to flourish.
The following tools are valuable ways to practice self-love and give yourself the care you deserve.
Self-love starts with a close inner connection. Take time to attune to your thoughts, feelings, hopes and needs. Learn what makes you tick and who you truly are. Knowing ourselves in this way helps us to appreciate our unique qualities. It enables us to start being our own best friend. And it allows us to connect to what is important to us, which is the first step in making it a reality.
Be kind to yourself
Treating ourselves with compassion is key to self-love. Notice how you speak to yourself internally. Is your self-talk positive and encouraging? By letting go of self-judgement and criticism, we create an inner support system. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for growth. Instead, it’s about accepting and celebrating who we are, and being gentle with ourselves when we fail or need to make changes.
Stay true to who you are
Self-love is all about choosing what feels good and right for us – and letting go of what doesn’t. This means respecting ourselves and our needs. And it means setting healthy boundaries and saying no when needed. By connecting inwardly and validating ourselves, we can make more discerning and empowered choices. Ask yourself, ‘What would feel loving to myself in this situation?’. This helps us to step away from ‘shoulds’ and to live more in alignment with ourselves.
One of the most loving things we can do is to practice self-care. We often prioritise our external commitments – but it’s equally important to give ourselves the same attention as we give to others. Whether it’s healthy activities, good nutrition, exercise, or simply resting and reflecting, take time to focus on what nourishes you. Self-care restores our minds and bodies. It helps us to meet the world feeling replenished. And it is a powerful affirmation to ourselves that we deserve to be treated with love.
As well as creating a healthy inner state, it’s vital to surround ourselves with people and experiences that uplift us. Cultivating love, joy and positivity in our social connections, activities and environment is a wonderful way to boost those feelings inside us too. What makes you feel happy, peaceful and expansive? Who truly loves, supports and inspires you? Connecting with these as often as possible strengthens us and helps us to feel more love inside and out.