The 3 Principles of Self-Love
What is self-love, and why is it so important? With the recent boom in self-love and self-care-focused media, it’s hard to know exactly what that term really means. Everyone has their own version of what it is to them. According to Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.” Put more simply - self-love is a state we achieve by taking action.
So what actions do we take to cultivate love for ourselves? In a world that is over-saturated with unrealistic body-image ideals, coupled with the societal unrest we have been experiencing in recent years, fixating on small little things that distract us from all the noise can be an attractive approach to loving ourselves... Getting a pedicure or a massage, exercising, getting good sleep, drinking water every day, and eating healthy… These are all wonderful things to do in the day-to-day, but self-love goes much deeper. These small things must be rooted to your soul in a deep meaningful way to translate into self-love. Your actions must be tied to a purpose, a bigger picture.
The Three Big-Picture Principles of Self-Love:
1. Accept yourself.
Too often, we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others. Whether it be comparing your self-image to what you see in the media, or comparing your life to someone you know… “Comparison is the death of joy,” as Mark Twain says. The standard of beauty and worthiness is not dictated by the media or what you observe in other people’s lives. The only standard of beauty and worthiness that matters is the one you have within yourself.
You are beautiful. Loved. Held. Appreciated. Exactly as you are right now.
When we learn to accept ourselves in our current state and see our own beauty, that is where self-love truly begins to grow. Accept where you’ve come from and where you are now. Everything that has happened to you in your life has made it possible for you to get here, and to where you are going next. All of the obstacles you face and new things you learn from previous failures will make you better and stronger. And when you lean into acceptance and appreciation for yourself, even though it seems difficult sometimes, you will reap the benefits of living in complete joy and freedom.
2. Celebrate yourself.
This is an important one. This is the one that you can practice every single day, with every action you take. Sometimes we look for external validation to give us that dopamine hit in our brains that lets us know that we’re doing something right. What we don’t realize is that we can create that same chemical reaction on our own.
Give yourself those mental celebrations when you do something you are proud of. Even if it’s as small as getting the dishes washed or making your bed or spending 2 minutes taking some deep breaths. Being intentional and mentally rewarding yourself by celebrating every small act of self-care will help create a deep appreciation for yourself that manifests into love.
It can be as simple as setting a reminder on your phone that goes off every day telling you that “You are enough!”. Or even a post-it note on your mirror, or an affirmation you write down daily. It may seem silly when you implement these small practices. You may not even believe these things at first. But after a while of continuously celebrating yourself and boldly stating these affirmations, they become your new truth. Our brains have what’s called neuroplasticity. This means that we can create new neural pathways in our brains and change the way that we think!
Even if you haven’t reached whatever goal you’re working towards, there are always things to celebrate. There is something good in every day, it just may take a little more intention to find it.
3. Forgive yourself.
We can be really hard on ourselves. When we fail, the disappointment and self-loathing that takes place in our heads can lead to things like anxiety, depression, hopelessness, etc. It is so important to give yourself some grace. No one is perfect. As humans, we are all flawed, we all fail, and we are all constantly learning. Forgive yourself for all those mistakes you tend to hold on to. Let go.
The act of letting go is not only freeing, but it is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself. And instead of looking at mistakes as failures, it can provide deep inner healing to approach them from the perspective of showing bravery and inviting yourself into an opportunity to learn and grow.
Creating Self-Love from Abundance
When you root self-love in these 3 principles, you allow yourself the space to emanate love from within and spill outward into the rest of your life. You give love from a place of abundance. Think about that famous analogy of you being a glass vase: If you are constantly pouring the water out into other areas of your life, and not taking the time to refill, you will eventually run out of water and the glass will break. But when you stand still, and allow water to flow into you, eventually that water will overflow. Not only will you be filled, but that overflowing love will spill out into the world around you.
Self-love means coming from a place of abundance. It means filling your glass vase, so that you can show up in your life the way you truly want to. There is no way you can give the love you want to give if you don’t cultivate it within yourself first.
Love yourself, my friends. There is enough negativity in this world. The least we can do is control how much of it we inflict on ourselves. And we have the innate power as humans to do just that.