“How to love yourself”
Those are the words I typed into the search bar before writing this article.
And staring back at me within a second was over two billion search results.
Because we live in a world that consistently teaches you not to love yourself. Especially if you’re a woman.
Ads for cosmetic surgery teach you your breasts aren’t large enough, your bum isn’t peachy enough, and your vagina isn’t designer enough. Whatever the fuck that means.
Toxic weight loss products like diarrhoea teas and appetite suppressing lolly pops are marketed to you by celebrities you trust. Because being hungry and thin is in, and the way your body naturally looks is out.
Violent and degrading pornography dehumanises you as a woman. The message is that your value is in your body, that your pleasure exists solely for the benefit of men, and being abused is sexy.
This is just a glimpse of what you battle against every day as a woman.
This is how I learned to hate myself.
And it took a decade of learning, healing, and growing to find my way back.
But I got there. So I know you can too.
Even if it that doesn’t feel true right now, I’m asking you to believe that it is.
Here’s how to love yourself more with 11 simple ways that actually work
1. Understand the way society tries to make you feel shit
What do make up companies, fashion labels, and cosmetic surgery companies all have in common?
They are businesses. Their goal is to make money.
And the majority of them really don’t care about anything else – especially not your self-esteem or self-worth.
They teach you hate, then sell you the promise of love.
How many times have you seen an advert for a product that has left you feeling shit about yourself?
And how many times have you thought that buying that product might help you feel better?
These companies count on women like you and me riding this emotional roller-coaster.
Think about it. If every girl and woman loved herself, and felt confident within, most of these companies would go out of business tomorrow.
So the next time you see an advert that attempts to make you feel terrible, make a different choice.
Switch it off. Remind yourself that they’re trying to make money from you. Laugh at the bullshit game they’re playing.
2. Find the courage to confront your deepest fears
What’s the root cause of our lack of self love?
When you trace it back, it comes down to fear.
The fear of not being good enough. Pretty enough. Sexy enough. Skinny enough. Hot enough.
The fear of no one else loving us back as we are.
The fear of being ostracised or left behind, because we don’t fit in.
But the thing about fear is, it only holds power over you when you run away from it. When you ignore it.
But when you stand still, and find the courage to face it head on – it becomes smaller. The more you expose it to the light, the less intimidating it becomes.
So if your fear is that no one will love you as you are today – pretend for a moment that it’s true (it’s totally not).
No one in your world loves you.
The truth is that is it says a hell of a lot more about those people than it does about you.
The less you have to do with those people, the better off you’ll be.
And you only know a tiny handful of the people in the world. Think about all the other billions of people out there in other towns, countries, and continents you’ve still not met.
Whatever fears are holding you back from fully loving yourself – I invite you to face them today.
3. Remember: you don’t need to be like anyone else
When I was 12, I started getting bullied at school. It got to the point where I dreaded going to school and my self esteem was shattered.
When I was 19, I was thinking about getting a nose job. My nose has a soft arch to it, and is definitely on the larger side as far as noses go.
I was also flirting with the idea of breast implants. I’ve always barely even filled an A-cup. And at the time, I believed that making those physical changes to my body would help me feel pretty and sexy.
I kept looking around and noticing other beautiful women. Women who had smaller, straighter noses, bigger breasts, and smaller hips. Women who had fairer skin, less cellulite on their thighs, and more toned arms. Women with boyfriends, while I felt like a perpetually single lemon.
I thought if only I could look like those women, then everything would be different. Everything would be better. I’d feel more confident and happier. I’d be able to find a boyfriend. Life would be great.
But I realised that I would’ve woken up with a bigger chest, a petite nose, and a more toned body, and those feelings of not-enoughness would still be there. Because I wouldn’t have addressed them, and figured out why I was really feeling that way.
The funny thing is, as soon as I stopped trying to fit in and follow the crowd, life got better.
The more I paved my own path, the more other women began to look at me, and think I was awesome.
Always remember that you are not like anyone else, and that is your gift.
4. Surround yourself with empowered women
When you’re younger, you don’t have much choice when it comes to the people you spend time with. You find yourself in a school in a neighbourhood in a town in a country that was chosen for you.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll find one or two amazing friends there that continue to grow with you over the years.
But most of us have a hard time letting go of friends. Even if we’ve grown apart from them, and have nothing in common anymore. And that’s natural.
But the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis has a huge impact on you as a person.
The people you spend the most time with can lift you up, or they can bring you down.
So take a moment to think about the women in your life today. Are they inspiring and empowering you? Or are they putting you down, and stifling your growth?
That goes for who you surround yourself with on social media too. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel like you’re not enough the way you are.
Be really selective about the people and the energy you allow in to your life.
5. Read books that inspire and help you grow
I have always been a big reader since I was little. Some people aren’t, and I get that. But the knowledge you can gain from reading just one book is incredible.
And you can get audiobooks now, so there’s no excuses if you don’t like reading!
There are so many amazing books that will help you learn how to love yourself, by empowering you from the inside, out. The trouble is, most people will read a book, learn a lot, but put nothing into practice.
The key is to make notes on what you’ve learned once while you’re reading, then take action. You can do the same while reading articles online like this one.
Set yourself a goal of reading one new, inspirational book each month related to self love. See what happens.
6. Do things you don’t necessarily want to do, but you know are good for you
Things like completing a tough workout in the gym. Getting clear on your finances so you know where you stand. Breaking up with your boyfriend because he doesn’t treat you like you deserve to be treated. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and energised, instead of reaching for pop.
Stop texting that guy who takes a week to reply to your messages. Attend a workshop on a subject that interests you on one of your days off. If you’ve been hitting the takeaways hard lately, make yourself a nourishing salad today instead. Clean your house and get rid of anything in it that no longer brings you joy.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for.
Pick one of these, or create your own, and do it today.
7. Get comfortable being with yourself
If you’re an introvert like me, you might really enjoy your own company, and that’s great. My challenge is the opposite – I have to push myself to socialise and not isolate.
But many of us try and mask our own feelings and inner thoughts by avoiding being alone.
We do this by being in relationships that are no more than mediocre, or even miserable. And we do this by hanging out with friends and even strangers to fill the silence. We spend more time at work than is healthy, because we don’t want to go home and be with ourselves. We’re afraid of what we might hear when we do.
One of the best ways to learn to love yourself more is to start being with yourself more. Learn to enjoy your own company, and the silence that comes with it.
Take yourself on a date. Plan a special night in. Go to the cinema alone. Break up with your partner (or friends) if they’re not adding anything good to your life.
And if those fears and negative thoughts do show up, face them head on.
8. Create powerful affirmations and repeat them daily
Two of the most powerful words in the dictionary are: I AM.
It’s no coincidence that many affirmations and intentions tend to begin with these two words. Because they imply strength, certainty, and inner belief.
If you struggle with how to love yourself, write yourself some affirmations that describe how you desire to feel.
Here are a few suggestions:
- I am worthy of receiving my own love
- I am enough
- I am learning to love myself more every day
Once you’ve created an affirmation that resonates with you and how you want to feel, write it out somewhere you’ll see it every day. And repeat it as many times as you like.
I always suggest to the women I coach that they repeat their affirmations out loud in front of a mirror. It’s incredibly powerful being able to see and hear yourself. And this allows the vibration you’re calling in to be felt at a deep soul level.
9. Immerse yourself in yoga
My first experience of yoga was the physical practice. I believed yoga was no more than a way of exercising for over a decade, until I discovered the philosophy of yoga while living in Bali.
But both parts have their own beauty, and will really help on your self-love journey.
The physical postures (asanas) help you step into and connect with your physical body. You’ll discover a new appreciation for your body – the way it moves, and all it allows you to do.
And the philosophy – what yoga really is – will blow the world as you know it wide open. It will help you get out of your head, and into your heart. You’ll learn that everything you’ve been taught to value is kind of insignificant. And you’ll view yourself and the world in a completely new light.
10. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
We all have an inner mean girl. That voice in our head that we can’t seem to get rid of. The one who’s always first to kick us when we’re down, and try and kick us when we’re up too.
As long as you’re alive, your ego won’t disappear. But there are ways you can control it, and stop it from ruling your your thoughts.
When you have a negative thought, or a limiting belief that is making you feel small or unworthy, you can choose again.
The first step is becoming aware of the thought. Because when you’re aware of it, you can then do something about it.
The moment you become aware of a negative thought that isn’t serving you, tell your mind to be quiet. And choose a new, positive thought instead. Keep repeating this process as often as you need to.
You always have the power to choose which thoughts get to stay, and which ones have to go.
11. Know that everything you need to love yourself is already within you
Society tries to teach you that you don’t have the power.
That they have the magic potion that’s going to help you learn how to love yourself. All you’ve got to do is listen to what they tell you, accept their lies as truths, hand over your money and wait.
They don’t have the power.
And they can’t take it from you. So if you gave it to them, know that you can take it back today. You can reclaim your power whenever you’re ready to.
Everything you need to love yourself is already within you. It’s in your heart. The truth is in your soul.
Everything you’ve been searching for out there can be found within.
So I invite you to look inwards. Because this is the start of how you learn to love yourself.