Loving yourself is a beautiful thing. It gives you the affirmative power to nurture your needs and desires. It builds up your energy reserves so you can pursue what matters most to you. Best of all, it teaches you how to love others unconditionally. The following practices may help you to cultivate more self-love and self-compassion.

Focus on Self-Care

Self-care is a multifaceted pursuit that is absolutely essential to a healthy lifestyle. It means that you know yourself well enough to recognize what you need and when.

It also requires an awareness of self-responsibility. You are only responsible for taking care of yourself. Other people may support you in the process, but they cannot solve your problems for you, nor can you solve theirs.

Eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising are fundamental acts of self-love and self-care. Deciding how to work on yourself is definitely empowering. Yet, this habit goes much deeper than that.

When you are dealing with difficult emotions, you can show yourself compassion by allowing yourself to feel them fully. When you want to be heard, it is an act of self-care to speak your truth. If you need help, ask for it directly. Likewise, when you are burnt out and need to rest, self-care will inspire you to set appropriate boundaries. Give yourself space and grace to rejuvenate.

As you learn to care for yourself in any given situation, you will start to feel more fierce love and strength coming from within.

Use Positive Self-Talk

Frequently, self-love is thwarted by negative self-talk. It’s possible that you are criticizing yourself throughout the day without noticing it––this happens to everyone. Catching yourself and changing your internal dialogue can work wonders.

When we make mistakes or compare ourselves to others, it’s easy to feel inadequate. You may also carry harmful beliefs about yourself from childhood. Begin by allowing these beliefs to cross your conscious mind without judgment. Then, decide what you want to believe instead.

Here’s an example. Do you act from a place of perfectionism? If so, remind yourself that nothing is perfect, so you don’t have to be either. Is there something you love about your perfectionist tendencies––perhaps your passionate drive to do things well, or your loving attention to detail? Concentrate on those qualities instead!

One way you can reprogram your self-dialogue is by posting love notes to yourself. Put them around your house, around the office, and in random places like your car. Start with simple statements like “I am capable”, “I am intelligent”, and “I am loved”, and work your way up from there!

Interrupting negative self-talk and replacing it with messages of self-compassion definitely takes practice. After years of doing it, you will easily arrive at that place of internal peace and self-love.

Practice Self-Acceptance

At the heart of it all, love is about acceptance. When you truly love someone, you embrace them for who they are. Though we are constantly changing, we can all benefit from practicing self-acceptance in the present moment.

Self-improvement can feel like an uphill battle. There are always new goals to set, bad habits to break, and wounds to heal. However, there is no “final destination” to set your sights on; you never fully “arrive” at the “ideal” self. Each one of us is full of complexity, and that complexity includes characteristics that we may find unattractive.

In order to have the inspiration to follow your dreams, it’s important to pause. How can you reward yourself right now for the accomplishments you’ve made? How might you let go of your future concerns and fully enjoy your uniqueness in this moment?

Self-acceptance is self-love in a nutshell. When you love yourself for who you are today, you will be able to give up the perpetual struggle for something different tomorrow.

Fostering self-love is a lifelong practice. It certainly gets easier the more you do it. Take it one day at a time––you’ve got this!