A common thread, running throughout social media posts and contemporary media, is to “love yourself.” Though it may sound simple at first, loving yourself is no easy feat. In fact, it’s a complicated idea to define. The best way to tackle this complex yet crucial concept is to explore its meanings and implications, as well as ways that it can be accomplished.
So, what does it mean to love yourself?
Loving yourself means finding your self-worth from who you are on the inside, not from your accomplishments on the outside.
I have been known to attach much of my self-worth to grades and test scores, and I’m not alone in this. Some might overly value their academic performance; while others might prioritize their athletic prowess.
While it is fantastic to appreciate these aspects of yourself, it is crucial you do not base your entire identity and self-esteem on your performance in these areas. Instead, learn to find your value from who you are on the inside—from your personality and purpose, for instance.
At the end of the day, grades and the amount of points scored in a soccer game are fleeting numbers. You won’t always be in school, nor will you always be out on the field. If you allocate too much importance to these areas, you will find yourself feeling empty and worthless when they are no longer a part of your life. On the other hand, if you find your self-worth in who you are on the inside, that inner confidence will last much longer.
Loving yourself means filling your own cup first and recognizing your limits.
People are continuously taught to put others before themselves. While this concept has an important meaning, it has its limitations. You are unable to best care for others if you are not feeling fully appreciated yourself. The same goes for school and extracurricular activities. If you spread yourself too thin and wear yourself down, the products you create will not be as high quality as they have the potential of being. You have to invest in yourself in order to invest into other people and activities.
I like to think of it in terms of cups. If your own cup is empty, you won’t have anything to pour into other people’s cups. Loving yourself equates to taking the time to ensure your own cup is full. Maybe that means carving out a few minutes every day to practice a hobby or put on a face mask, or maybe it means taking some extracurriculars off your plate to honor your limits.
If you’re feeling worn down from excessive social interaction, spend some quality time with yourself. Pursue whatever makes you feel satisfied, happy, and content. Because at the end of the day, you won’t be able to produce quality work or foster strong relationships if you aren’t properly caring for yourself. You have to fill your own cup before you can fill others’ cups.
Loving yourself means being your own best friend.
A best friend is someone you can always count on to love and accept you, even with full knowledge of your faults and mistakes. Be that person for yourself. Recognize where you fall short, and work to better yourself. Acknowledge when you mess up, but don’t beat yourself up for it—learn from it and move on.
Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers pioneered the idea of “unconditional positive regard.” This concept involves a therapist always being accepting of a client, even when they admit a personal fault. The therapist never judges, but always expresses a positive attitude towards the client. While Rogers applied this to a clinical setting, you can apply it to your view of yourself. Love yourself unconditionally—be your own best friend!
Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of what it means to love yourself, here are a few ways that you can put this meaning into practice.
- Have a girls’ night! Whether it be out on the town or staying at home, spend some time with friends that make you feel uplifted.
- Spend time with family. Have a game night or movie night with your siblings, parents, or grandparents. Feeling love from others can help you love yourself!
- Have some chill time. Maybe that means watching Netflix in bed or catching up on a good book. Whatever it may be, taking some time to relax and recharge is a great way to care for your overall health.
- Treat yourself! Order your favorite meal or go grab your staple dessert. Show yourself a little extra love by enjoying the foods that make you happy!
- Pursue a hobby. Baking, painting, crocheting, or playing an instrument—it doesn’t matter. Doing an activity that stimulates your brain can help you escape the stresses of daily life.
- Pamper yourself! Light a candle, prepare a bubble bath, or apply a face mask; physically caring for yourself translates to mentally caring for yourself.
Today and every day, carve out a little time to do something solely for you. Work on loving yourself for who you are right here, right now—not for who you will be down the road.
There’s only one “you” in this world, so celebrate yourself! You deserve the utmost appreciation.
Since we’re still in the pandemic and these tips can translate even outside of the pandemic, check out “How-To Guide: Self Love During a Pandemic” for more ways to prioritize your self love.