No time of the year presents a better opportunity to discuss the concept of self-love than New Years. There is something special about this time of year that sparks new hope and a desire for a better life. People all around the world resolve to make changes as a means to improve their wellbeing, but the posture to which we approach these changes has a much greater impact on the outcome than the place we start from.
Whatever your resolution may be, whether it is to lose weight, eat healthier, make more friends, or get a better job, the goal is far less important than your answer to the question “Why is that your goal?” Being motivated by self-hate has a destructive impact while being motivated by self-love leads to positive results on your life and those around you.
For example, you can have a negative, self-hate, motivation to losing weight by wanting to impress more people or because you dislike the way you look. Or, you can desire to lose weight to take care of your most precious possession, your body. As another example, the desire to have more friends is a great goal, but whether you approach this goal with the mindset of needing validation, or a desire to love and pour into more people will have a very different effect on the outcome.
Whatever your resolution this year, take a look at the posture from which you’re pursuing your goals. If there are any negative motivations, I encourage you to make learning to love yourself a top priority. This adjustment will help you feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to achieve your goals while making the journey easier and more pleasant.
Not sure how? We have compiled a list of tips and practices that can help you achieve the positive and healthy state of loving yourself.
1.Nourish Your Body: Ditch the diet, stop meticulously counting calories, and stop feeling guilty for occasionally enjoying an unhealthy food you love. Instead, focus on nourishing your body! Food is so strongly connected to emotions that we often overlook the fact that real food, healthy food, truly heals and nourishes the body: mind, body, and soul. We are so blessed with access to natural, healing, life giving foods! Prepare your meals this year with love and gratitude, and your body will thank you for it.
2.Fitness: Taking care of your body through consistent exercise is one of the best ways to act out self-love. It strengthens your muscles, bones, organs, and mental health. Just make sure your posture towards exercise is a benefit towards your body, not a punishment. Learn to love your body the way it is, but push yourself past your comfort zone. Improving your level of fitness is one of the fastest ways to impact your view of self and your ability to serve others.
3.Self-Care: What do you need to enjoy your life to the fullest? We cannot avoid all the stress our modern lives provide, but we can certainly plan activities that help us unwind and enjoy life. Whether it is a daily activity like a fifteen minute quiet time, or weekly event like a romantic date with a loved one, or night spent with friends, it is vital to our health to take care of ourselves. When you make time for pleasure, it is reflected in your relationships with those around you.
4.Self-Acceptance and Compassion: Possibly the hardest aspect of self-love is self-acceptance and compassion. The media portrays an “ideal” state of existence, both in how we should look and how we should act, but the truth is the “ideal” does not exist. Self-acceptance is not believing you cannot improve or change, but knowing in this moment you are the best you can be, and loving that version of you, both the desires for greatness and the flaws, without beating yourself up for not being someone you aren’t.
5.Authenticity: What we see in others is often what we perceive as our shortcomings, but what we share with those around us is the reflection of what we love. The ultimate act of self-love is being vulnerable and showing who you really are: the pretty and the broken. It is only through authenticity and vulnerability that we can build meaningful relationships where we feel safe, do not have to pretend to be something we are not, and pour into others without expectations in return.
Our cultural view of self-love is overwhelmingly negative. Self-love tends to be associated with narcissism or selfishness, but at its deepest level, self-love is the ultimate form of love for others. We cannot truly invest or give to others if we are not satisfied with who we are and what we have. It is only from this posture that we can invest or serve others without reciprocal expectations. Whatever your resolution is this year, whether self-improvement or outwardly focused, taking care of yourself is the best way to improve your own life and the life of those around you.