Sometimes life can get you down and you may be really hard on yourself. No matter what your are facing in your life, it is important to continue to love yourself. You can learn to love yourself by using strategies to become more compassionate towards yourself, let go of things that bother you about yourself, and develop a sincere love and appreciation for yourself.
- Building Self-Compassion
- Letting Go of Self-Hatred
- Developing Self-Love
Imagine how you would react to a friend in your situation. To start practicing self-compassion, it may be helpful for you to start thinking about how you would respond to a friend who was in your situation. Try to imagine the words and behaviors that you would use to comfort a friend who was dealing with the same problem as you are and write about them. Some good questions to answer as part of this exercise include:
- What would you say to a friend who came to you with the problem that you are having? How would you treat him or her?
- How do you tend to treat yourself? How is this different from how you would treat a friend?
- How might a friend react if you treated him or her the way that you treat yourself?
- How might you start to feel if you treated yourself the way you would treat a friend?
Create a self-compassion script. In difficult moments, it may be helpful for you to recite a self-compassion script to keep yourself from being over-critical of yourself. A self-compassion script will help you to acknowledge your feelings and be kind to yourself in the moment.
- For example, you might say something like, “I am having a really hard time right now, but suffering is part of being human. The way I feel right now is temporary.”
- You can alter the script so that it is in your own words or recite it as is whenever you are tempted to criticize yourself.
Write a kind letter to yourself. Another way to start seeing yourself with more compassion is to write yourself a kind letter. Write the letter from the perspective of a friend who has unconditional love for you. You can imagine someone real or imaginary
- Try starting the letter with something like, “Dear (your name), I heard about (your situation) and I am so sorry. I want you to know that I care about you….” You can continue the letter from this point. Remember to maintain a kind, understanding tone throughout the entire letter.
Give yourself some physical comfort. Physical comfort can help you to feel better when you are feeling low. That is why friends and family members may hug you or pat you on the back if you are struggling with something. Even if you are alone, you can give yourself the benefits of physical comfort by hugging, patting, or just laying hands on yourself.
- Try holding your hands over your heart or wrap your arms around yourself in a big hug.
Practice meditation. After a while, self-critical thinking may become automatic, which can be difficult to change. Meditation can help you to become more aware of your thoughts, so you will be able to tell when you are criticizing yourself and address the thoughts rather than letting them take over.
- Learning to meditate takes time and practice, so it is a good idea to take a class or find someone who can give you lessons.
- You can even try a self-compassion guided meditation
Recognize opinions do not equal facts. How you feel about yourself may not be accurately be represented as fact. Do not believe everything you tell yourself.
- To change negative thought patterns, try the cognitive behavioral technique “the 3 C’s”: catch, check, change. Catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, check if what you are thinking about is true, and then change your thoughts to more positive one.
Avoid negative people. People who make you feel bad about yourself will make it more difficult to find self-love. If you find yourself surrounded by people like this, it is time to consider distancing yourself.
- It might be difficult to completely disappear or disengage from people. Start slow. If you want to distance yourself from friends, for example, try to communicate less. Gradually stop seeing or talking to them, and then block them on social media.
- Breaking up with someone who is a negative influence can be a bit trickier. However, if you can handle it, then your life can be much better.
Stay away from negative situations. Negative situations can create negative behavior and may create self-hatred. Avoiding these situations will remove the stimuli and will help you focus on making a better you.
Do not to dwell on things you can not change. For example, you can’t control the weather. Why let it upset you? When it comes to things about yourself, there are just some things you will not be able to control (such as past decisions). Focus on the things you can.
Avoid thinking that you aren’t good enough. Feeling inadequate is very common. You must recognize that you cannot excel at every aspect of your life. Imperfection is part of the human condition. Recognize this to begin loving yourself and what you do accomplish.
Focus on changing what you can. While there is a lot you can not control, there are things that you can! If you don’t like the way you look, for example, think about how you can change it. Consider:
- Can I get to a healthy weight?
- Can I dye my hair?
- Can I wear contacts/change the color of my eyes?
- Can I change my wardrobe?
- Can I take a class to help improve or learn a skill?
Write a list. Start by writing down what you like about yourself. This strategy will give a focus. Consider writing both physical and psychological lists. Start with small things to help motivate yourself. Perhaps write things:
- I like the color of my eyes.
- I like my laugh.
- I enjoy my job.
- I like my hard work ethic.
Be thankful. Similarly, it helps to write a list for what you are thankful. These can be vary from the previous list to focus more on what you appreciate about the world around you. Consider writing things:
- I am thankful for my loving family.
- I am thankful for my dog.
- I am thankful for my apartment/house.
- I am thankful for the wonderful weather today.
Talk to those you love. If you are struggling with getting started with what you should write about, consider talking to people who love you. They might provide a different perspective. Think about asking:
- ”Mom, what do you think are my best traits?”
- ”Dad, what are you thankful for?” (This might give you ideas.)
- ”[Sibling name] Do you think I’m good at [x]?”
Practice daily affirmations.Daily affirmations are scientifically proven to improve the way to think about yourself. They have been proven to improve mood and reduce stress. To practice daily affirmations, do the following:
- Every morning, when you first wake up, stand in front of a mirror.
- Look yourself in the eye and repeat a mantra. This affirmation is designed to help you reinforce positivity. Try saying things like: “I will say yes to more things today.”
- Repeat this three to five times to help you reinforce the idea.
- You can change your affirmation daily, or focus on something specific you want to change.
Exercise. Getting physical has many positive benefits, both psychological and physical. The “exercise effect” is the scientific phenomenon of feeling better about oneself after physical exercise.
- Also, participating in exercises that you enjoy can promote happiness. For example, try taking a walk through a local park. It’ll give you time to think, burn off some calories, and provide a beautiful view!
Eat a healthy diet. Similar to exercising, eating healthy has psychological benefits.
- Try eating more proteins (fish, meat, beans) and less simple carbohydrates (white bread, sugars, sweets, etc).
Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping makes a body and mind feel good. Scientists suggest that amount of sleep varies on age.
- School age – 9-11 hours per night.
- Teenager – 8-10 hours per night.
- Young adult – 7-9 hours per night.
- Adult – 7-9 hours per night.
- Older Adult — 6-8 hours per night.
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