Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez are the height of couple goals. She recently said of their relationship: “Everything feels healthy and different. We bring something to each other’s lives that is profound, good, and healthy.” But their strong bond goes beyond their connection to each other. Lopez revealed how her relationship with Rodriguez wouldn’t be possible without first learning to love and accept herself.

“I grew up sharing a bed with my sisters from the time I was born, [and then] it was one boyfriend, and then another, and then a husband, and [so on], and I realized you’ve never been alone,” she told People. “Until I could really learn to be happy on my own and love myself, these relationships were never going to work out, no matter what. That was a big turning point for me.”

Lopez hits on a crucial point: You can’t unlock your full potential, personally and professionally, until you’ve developed a solid relationship with yourself.

She’s not only celeb to emphasize this point. Talented, successful people from Michelle Obama to Ariana Grande have underscored the importance of learning to truly love themselves before they were able to tap into their full power. There’s a lot to learn from their transformations.

Serena Williams embraced her strength as a gift, not a hindrance

“There was a time when I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong,” Serena Williams explained in an interview with the Undefeated. “I had to take a second and think, ‘Who says I’m too strong? This body has enabled me to be the greatest player that I can be.’” Her strength is a powerful gift that got her to where she is in her career and as a person. That’s well worth celebrating.

Demi Lovato is transforming her life by letting go of perfectionism and self-criticism

Demi Lovato took to Instagram to explain how exactly she is pursuing self love. “So I’m insecure about my legs in this picture, but I’m posting it because I look so happy. And this year I’ve decided I’m letting go of my perfectionism and embracing freedom from self-criticism,” she captioned a beach photo. She highlighted that the journey to self love is ongoing, difficult, and ultimately, “life changing.”

Michelle Obama realized taking care of her marriage meant putting herself first

Marriage counseling “was my pivot point, my moment of self-arrest,” Michelle Obama shared in an interview on Good Morning America in support of her best-selling book, Becoming. “What I learned about myself is that my happiness was up to me. So I started working out more and I started asking for help more. I stopped feeling guilty. It was important for me to take care of myself; that’s not on Barack.” Fully actualizing herself and thriving in her marriage both demanded some real attention devoted to self-care and self-love.

Sam Smith turned his career around by championing his authentic self

“Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try to get my music heard. I tried to lose weight, I was making awful music,” Sam Smith revealed as he received his 2015 Grammy. “It was only until I started being myself did the music start to flow and people start to listen.” It was when he decided to celebrate and lift up his authentic self that he was able to make work that he — and others — believed in.

Gina Rodriguez came to terms with the skin she’s in, and became her own hero

Gina Rodriguez, star of Netflix’s Jane the Virgin, has not always felt powerful and confident. “As a woman with Hashimoto’s, my struggle with health and weight and body acceptance in this industry has been a loving, painful, growing, exposing, vulnerable, and incredible journey,” she shared on Instagram. “And to come to a place where I love the skin I am in and it isn’t defined by anyone’s expectations or limitations is beyond freeing. I love this picture because I feel like young Gina finally made herself her own hero.” Learning self-love, for Rodriguez, meant claiming power and freedom.

Ariana Grande is grateful for her exes, but she’s decided to step back and focus on herself

Grande’s new hit single “thank u, next” celebrates the power of self love. “I know they say I move on too fast/ But this one gon’ last/ ‘Cause her name is Ari/ And I’m so good with that,” she sings. Vocalizing self-love, or the search for self-love, felt awkward at first, Grande acknowledges. “When I felt myself saying, ‘Cause her name is Ari,’ I knew it was a special line, but part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of corny,’” Grande told Billboard. “But the other part of me was like, ‘That’s beautiful and I need to keep it in.’” She’s right to celebrate the beauty of the instinct to really love yourself. As Grande puts it, “It’s real.”

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  • Nora Battelle

    Multimedia Staff Writer at Thrive

    Nora Battelle is a writer from New York City. Her work has been published on the Awl, the Hairpin, and the LARB blog, and she's written for podcast and film. At Swarthmore College, she studied English and French literature and graduated with Highest Honors. She's fascinated by language, culture, the internet, and all the small choices that can help us thrive.