“If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.” — Jane Travis

Love yourself -it’s what everyone is telling you to do, but why? For me, it hasn’t been an only an act, but a practice. It can feel selfish to chase your dreams and make yourself a priority. However, it has so many benefits that will make life fulfilling. Moving to another country has helped me learn to love myself, despite any obstacles I go through. I’ve also learned so much about myself, which I never knew.

Challenges can be overwhelming, however they also help us grow and keep life exciting. Despite setbacks that we may experience, we can also look at them as lessons to be learned. We can forgive ourselves and remember that it’s all a part of our own unique journey in life. It’s taken me awhile to realize why loving yourself is so important. These are the reasons that stick out to me most.

1) To take care of your health

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to be taking good care of ourselves. We know what our limit is and when we need a break. Self-care isn’t the same for everyone. For me self-care, is taking time to do what I truly enjoy while allowing myself to relax. This may mean going out with friends, going for a run, shopping, getting a massage, etc. It looks different for everyone. We must take care of ourselves first, to help others. Just like the flight attendants say every time you ride a plane, “Make sure to put on your own oxygen mask first.”

Research published in the journal Healthy Psychology found that self-compassion promotes things such as healthy eating, exercise, adequate sleep, and effective stress management. Further, they have found that those who practice self-compassionate are more likely to not beat themselves up after missing the gym or eating a big piece cake. Instead, they accept the decisions they made, tell themselves to be more mindful next time, and simply move on. What helps me best, is to write down my health goals. I find it much easier to act upon them when they are written.

2) To form richer relationships.

To connect with others, we must be well connected with ourselves. When we are content with our own lives, it attracts others. When we feel happier with ourselves, we are able to be kinder, more empathetic, and giving. We may be more likely to make someone’s day with our positive attitude. People are drawn to those who are able to give them something valuable. The relationships that you have with others are important for your own well-being. This isn’t only your immediate family or closest friends, but also those you come into contact with each day. Relationships can teach us so much about others, and can also help us to learn more about ourselves.

I value relationships with others much more than I used to. One example of this is being more responsive to others whether it’s through e-mail, text, or calls. Being more responsive is important because it shows that you are taking time out of your day to respond. People love when you give them your time. Further, simply asking someone how their day was/is going can make a huge difference in their day. Genuinely asking and listening to their response. When you love yourself and are happy, you will want to spread that happiness to others.

3) To not allow yourself to settle.

When we value ourselves, we know what we deserve, and what we don’t. We set boundaries with those who are not good for us. When we set boundaries, we let others know what we will tolerate. Always remember that you are in control of your life. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who support and encourage you. It will get you further than you’ll ever know. When it comes to romantic relationships, I have found that it’s better to be alone than to be with someone who doesn’t see your worth. When you love yourself, no one can convince you that you are anything less. You will avoid these people and relationships. It will set you free.

I have settled before in relationships and although it wasn’t good for me, I learned from it. I also realized that at the time I was settling, I didn’t love myself. I didn’t know my worth. That’s why I didn’t leave. Whoever it is that you end up spending life with, make sure they respect you, treat you right, and see how valuable you are.

4) To live freely.

Living freely, is to not need other’s approval in regards to how we live our life. When we are confident with ourselves, we won’t allow people to continuously bring us down. We live our lives in accordance to what we feel is best for ourselves and not what others expect of us. Living freely allows us to be ourselves and live the life we have always imagined. Your dreams and decisions are worthy of being listened to without judgement. Rebel against society who constantly tells us to be someone we aren’t. It’s your life, not theirs.

When I graduated college, instead of going straight into my career path, I decided to do something different. I wanted to explore and find myself. Through this experience and others, I found that when set goals and work hard towards them, you can accomplish anything. Even though I had to go completely out of my comfort zone to reach a dream of mine, nothing has ever felt so freeing.

Work to start practicing self-compassion and self-love, and surround yourself with people who accept you for exactly who you are.

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” — Jean Shinoda Bolen

Originally published at medium.com