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Whether in a relationship or flying solo, self-love is one of the fundamental pillars of a happy, fulfilling, flourishing life. Yet, it’s the aspect that we seem to neglect the most. Let’s look into what self-love is, how you can benefit from it, and how it shapes your everyday life.

What is self-love?

Self-love is a positive emotional belief about yourself built from actions that promote physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. These actions include gratitude, affirmations, positive self-talk, and self-care (e.g., journaling, enjoying a hobby, exercising, etc.). All these activities help you attain self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-confidence, and, finally, self-love.

Nurturing self-care, self-love, and self-compassion is not about being self-absorbed. It’s also not about putting yourself first without caring for those around you. It’s simply about building a healthy relationship with yourself.

Self-love is a fundamental aspect of your mental and emotional well-being and a much-needed foundation for building healthy relationships with others. It’s about authenticity and deep appreciation of who you are, flaws and all. Your relationship with yourself matters the most because your relationship with others often reflects how you treat yourself.

Practicing self-love helps you build a sense of self-worth using our inner resources rather than seeking external validation. This practice gives us the strength and courage to set boundaries, be assertive about our needs, and express our authentic selves.

Self-love benefits

By understanding the benefits of self-love, we can see how it permeates all aspects of our well-being.

1. Less perceived stress

The demands of modern life are often stressful as we try to juggle our social roles and achieve our professional and personal goals. Practicing self-love can reduce stress by making us slow down, be in the present moment, and look into ourselves with a compassionate and nurturing attitude.

One study from 2021 showed that practicing self-care activities could mediate people’s perceived stress levels during the pandemic. Another study from 2018 showed that US medical students who engaged more in self-care activities reported having higher life quality.

2. Greater emotional stability and resilience

Engaging in self-love can help us become more flexible, growth-oriented, and resilient by reducing our perceived stress levels and encouraging self-compassion.

Awakening compassion towards oneself is a kind and clear-sighted way to feel connected to your identity, even during times of perceived imperfection, sadness, and failure.

In other words, when we practice self-love, even during challenging times, we show care, understanding, and compassion to ourselves. We send a message to ourselves that we are worthy of unconditional love, and this constant positive self-reinforcement then helps drive our growth mindset.

Being able to think in terms of growth and perceive failures as valuable lessons and opportunities teaches us to look at every situation (and ourselves in it) from different perspectives. In the long run, this is the recipe for sustaining emotional stability and resilience.

3. Being in control of your life

Engaging in self-love, especially during times of uncertainty or prolonged stress, can help you switch from an external to an internal locus of control and rebuild your life.

The internal locus of control is not about trying to predict and plan everything obsessively. It’s about taking the full ownership of your life.

People with an internal locus of control experience more autonomy and ownership, which also positively influences their emotional stability, perceived stress, mental health, and resilience.

4. Clear boundaries and better relationships

When we love someone, we tend to develop a caring feeling towards them. The same works when we love ourselves – we become more confident and assertive about our needs. It becomes more likely that we would stand up for ourselves and less likely that we’ll tolerate mistreatment by others.

In this case, self-love goes beyond self-compassion, self-care, and building self-esteem. It’s also about knowing how and when to say “No” to set boundaries with others.Personal boundaries are a component of self-love and the key to healthy relationships. We can only become close to others when we know how to be – and stay – close to ourselves.

5. Increased sense of meaning and purpose

Do you know what is your meaning in life? With daily social roles, family responsibilities, and our future goals and plans, we can forget who we really are. Taking time to sit down and find what inspires you is a good way to practice self-appreciation and gear your life towards what gives you a sense of purpose and meaning.

How to practice self-love

Awaken your self-awareness

Can you love someone if you don’t truly know them? If you engage with yourself superficially, you will not fully understand your true self and what makes you happy.

Becoming more self-aware means learning more about yourself and raising your consciousness. So here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What am I most grateful for in life?
  • What are my genuine interests?
  • How do I express emotions and cope with challenges?
  • What are my self-limiting thought or behavior patterns?
  • What gives me energy, and what drains it out of me?

Reality can be successfully influenced, designed, and shaped to our liking with decisions, actions, and their consequences. Asking questions, five of them to be precise, provides guidance on the way to self-awareness and greatness.

But what are the possible roads to take to find answers? Here are some suggestions:

Mindfulness meditation and observing your experience as it unfolds: As you meditate, various physical and mental elements will try to disturb your “empty” mind. Bring awareness to your thoughts as they come, then let them go.

Psychotherapy: One of the surest ways to get to know yourself better and become more self-aware is by talking to a professional who can not only help you navigate through mental health concerns, but also help you understand yourself.

Journaling: Keeping a journal is a fantastic way to reflect on your life and feelings and to get to know yourself better. One of the most significant advantages of journaling is that you can always go back in time and revisit certain moments and thoughts.

Focus on self-compassion

Being your true self, as well as achieving your goals and dreams requires discipline. Sometimes we tend to associate the word “discipline” with deprivation and punishment, when in reality being disciplined means staying true to your authentic self and following your values, interests, and goals in every given moment. It’s not much about having more or less willpower, rather being committed to long-term progress and taking ownership of the decisions you make on what matters to you.

On the journey of being authentic, we may be tempted to fall back into self-limiting beliefs and use negative self-talk. In such moments, we need self-compassion and self-love the most. When we can be true to our nature, we send a message of love and respect to ourselves.

Many of us may struggle with finding our voice and way of expression. It’s crucial to know who you are, own your story, and define your values to find your authentic expression.

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