Self-love is an important topic that does not get discussed enough. In our society, self-hatred and low self-esteem is so prevalent. Think about how often girls on televisions shows and movies put themselves down. The first example that comes to my mind is Mean Girls — Karen, Gretchen, and Regina gathered around the mirror and complaining about everything from their huge hips to to their weird hairlines. When Cady’s turn comes up and all she can come up with is that she has really bad breath in the morning, she’s treated like the weird one.

Maybe she is the weird one, based on everything the media tells us about self-esteem. But being weird isn’t always bad, and in this case, it’s actually good. Hating or even just disliking yourself dulls the world. When you love yourself, the world seems brighter, more interesting. For a lot of people, depression and self-loathing go hand-in-hand. But you don’t have to be sucked into that cycle.

The biggest tip I have for learning to love yourself is this: fake it ’til you make it. Act like you love yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend, with compassion and care. When you do this, it is going to feel weird, especially if you’ve had negative thoughts about yourself for a long time. You have to push through that strange feeling though. The reward is so great that feeling awkward for a moment is not a big consequence at all, not in the long run.

Say positive things about yourself. When you look in the mirror, stop focusing on the gap in your teeth or your pimples. Instead, find at least one feature you like. It might just be your shirt, to start out with. Compliment yourself. It’s best to do this out loud, but if you can’t do that right away, thinking the compliments is good enough. If you can’t stop focusing on negative things, think of it this way: “I may have a huge pimple on my cheek, but my eyeliner is perfect today.” Eventually you won’t have to frame it this way in your mind.

If you are afraid or reluctant to learn to love yourself, examine why that is. Get to the root of the problem, maybe with a counselor or therapist if you need one. In fact, therapy is a great asset when you’re working on loving yourself. Working through issues with a therapist can be very helpful.

Another thing to remember is to cut yourself some slack. You know that moment you keep replaying in your head, where you said the wrong thing and it was so embarrassing? Odds are, no one remembers, and even if they do, it’s not like they’ve never done something similar. Everyone has had embarrassing moments, and everyone has made mistakes. Don’t worry about it too much.

Remember, you deserve happiness. Don’t let anyone, not even yourself, tell you that you don’t. You are important and you deserve your own love. Good luck with everything!

Do you have more tips? Leave your best ones in the comments!

(Written by Megan Flint.)

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