Do you need to work on your self love? Dr David R Hamilton shares 19 simple and powerful practices that can help you develop a healthy sense of self love.
1 Strike A Power Pose
Your body language not only shows how you’re feeling, research shows that it also creates how you feel. So make regular adjustments to your body language throughout the day that convey self love. You will gradually train your muscles and your nervous system for self love.
2 Visualise Your Highest Self
Your brain can’t distinguish real from imaginary. If you imagine yourself in your best light your brain will process it as real and cause changes in your self-belief and confidence.
3 Use Positive Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can bring us down and eat away at our self love. So catch yourself as often as you can in the act of negative self-talk and say something positive about yourself instead. It might be regarding your appearance or something about your nature, or it might even be a reminder of something good you did. It’s a good idea to create a stock of positive things to draw upon, which makes it much easier to change a negative into a positive.
4 Shrink It Down
The mind responds to images and they can affect how we feel about ourselves. When we feel afraid or something seems too challenging for us, it seems ‘big’ in our minds. It’s like the thought or feeling is ‘in your face’. Negative feelings like this can erode self love. A simple trick, and it does trick the mind, is to take the image or feeling and imagine shrinking it down to almost nothing. It even helps to take your thumb and forefinger and slowly join them together as if making something smaller.
5 Love Thy Selfie
Say, “I love you” or “I am enough” every time you see your reflection in a mirror. Say it when you brush your teeth, do your makeup, dry your hair, and even when you catch your reflection in a shop window.
6 Choose Gratitude
One of the practices that erodes self love is when we focus predominantly on our faults or what we’ve done wrong. A practice of gratitude has the opposite effect, lifting us up instead of pulling us down. Start a gratitude practice that focuses on your good points. Start with 2 or 3 things on day 1 and then add 2 or 3 new things every day until you’ve practiced for at least 3 weeks and your list has several items on it.
7 Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!
Whatever your self love practice, practice it every day. Repetition is how to wire brain networks for self love. This is how to learn the habit of self love.
8 Celebrate Your Uniqueness
Don’t try to be like everyone else. Conforming sends a signal that says, ‘who I am is not enough’. Make a choice to celebrate what’s unique and special about you. Show your uniqueness and individuality and learn to be proud of it.
9 Be Authentic
Be your Self. Live your own life. Speak your mind. Don’t be concerned about being liked or accepted. Be concerned with being yourself. Being authentic is a massive statement of self-love. It’s like declaring that “I am enough.”
10 Be Kind To Yourself
Treat yourself in ways that show that you matter. Take some time out, have a hot bath, take a walk in the park, treat yourself to something new that makes you feel good and declare that you are doing it because you’re worth it.
11 Don’t Be Afraid To Show Weakness Or Vulnerability
Be courageous enough to show your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Everyone feels weak and vulnerable at times so the courage to not hide is a strength.
12 Be Compassionate To Yourself
Give yourself a hug a few times throughout the day. Remember that nobody is perfect. You can’t succeed or win all the time. You can’t even be happy all the time. We are all human, with our humanness showing as we stumble and fumble through life, trying to find our way. Everyone has worries and problems, even if they appear outwardly confident and self-assured. Remember that you are only human.
13 Don’t Compare Your ‘Behind The Scenes’ With Everyone Else’s ‘Highlight Reel’
We mostly see people at their best, or at least what we think is their best, but we’re all too aware of what we look like first thing in the morning, or how vulnerable we feel, or how much we might lack confidence on the inside. As Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, says, we shouldn’t compare our ‘behind the scenes’ with everyone’s else’s ‘highlight reel’.
14 Tend To Your Wants And Needs
Learn to look after your own needs. Many of us get into the habit of looking out for everyone but ourselves. A mark of self love is to care for your own needs too; not instead or others, before others, after others. In fact it’s not about others at all. Simply tend to your needs and wants.
15 Have Courage To Ask That Your Needs Be Met
We all have needs that have to be met, whether these are at work, in our relationships, or in life in general. When we are lacking a healthy self love we become fearful of asking that our needs be met. Practice having the courage to ask. It means risking rejection, but you’ll feel better in years to come knowing that you had the courage. Who knows what might happen…
16 Create Your Own Self Love Affirmations
Based on how self love affects you most, write a statement of how you intend to feel and repeat it 10 times in the morning, 10 times in the afternoon, and 10 times at night.
17 Pull Silly Smiles
Practice pulling huge silly smiles at random times in the day. Make sure you also do it in the morning, preferable shortly after you get up. Smiling like this sends signals to the emotional centres of your brain and increases positive emotion.
18 Push Out Your Comfort Zone
Self love often lies at the edge of your comfort zone. Push yourself as much as you can with the intent not only to succeed in what you apply yourself to, but in the knowing that the attempt itself is a declaration of self love.
19 Don’t Take It Personally
Try not to take things too personally, especially seeming criticism or when things don’t go to plan. Things only seem personal when we’re lacking in self love. When things are not working, it’s not a flaw in who you are. Set an intent to be more resilient and your self love will grow as a consequence.
About the author
Dr David R Hamilton is an author and motivational speaker actively flying the flag for kindness and self love. Check out his fabulous book, I Heart ME: The Science of Self-Love, for more great advice.