Have you heard the phrase “You can’t love others unless you love yourself”? Psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps says though that statement is true, it’s also complicated. Here we’ll explore 5 ways to love yourself so you can love others better.

In an article on WebMD, Dr. Becker-Phelps says, “Loving yourself certainly makes it easier to love someone else. When you accept and love yourself, you don’t need someone else’s approval or love, and you are likely to believe that you will find someone who you will love, and who will love you.” People who love themselves don’t look at relationship failures, they look at steppingstones to the right person. Those who are critical and unaccepting of themselves find it difficult to believe that others could love and accept them.

Don’t Be Harsh To Yourself

Women can be extra hard on themselves. Between images of models in magazines and music and movie stars’ appearances and money, we can – and often do – judge ourselves harshly. Perhaps we were raised in a home with critical or abusive parents.  Perhaps we were/are bullied online or in-person. When circumstances or people hurt us emotionally or physically, we can become harsh and judgmental of ourselves.

Women also wear many hats: employee, sister, girlfriend/wife, daughter, mother … and those roles can be difficult to juggle. If we’re not on top of everything (family, job, home, activities), then we think of ourselves as failures. Perhaps someone has even told us that. However, that’s a lie.

Although it’s true we can all improve in some way, and perhaps we should try, but the label of “failure” isn’t helpful to loving oneself … or others. “Growing” is a positive word, and “growing” is what we can do. Would you like to be a better money-manager? Learn how to budget. Would you like to obtain a better job? Learn a new, viable skill. Would you like to be a better mom? Learn from others via blogs and podcasts.

5 Ways to Show Love

Would you like to be more loving? Then, love yourself. Here are five ideas on how to do that:

  1. Stop negative self-talk.  Be mindful of what you think and say about yourself, and when you find yourself in the negative zone, use positive affirmations and read encouraging quotes.
  2. Change your story. Everyone has a story, past and present. If your past was not ideal, now’s the time to change that story. You can’t change what happened, but you can set your sights on the future by changing the present. Break the cycle of negativity and criticism. Perhaps this is where you improve upon something: a better job, a more encouraging group of friends. It’s not easy to make changes, but oftentimes, it’s well worth the journey.
  3. Remember that everyone is unique – including you. Everyone is different; everyone is unique. Therefore, you shouldn’t try to be someone else. Let your gifts shine. Are you musically talented? Share that with others. Are you creative in other ways? Perhaps teach an evening course at the college or help a struggling student. Love animals? Volunteer at the Humane Society. Focus on who you are and share your uniqueness to help someone else.
  4. Forgive. Bitterness eats people alive. If we hold onto resentment toward others, we can get stuck in a cycle of negativity, and if we don’t forgive ourselves, shame can do the same. Forgiveness isn’t easy but certainly healthy. There is power in forgiveness. “When you learn to forgive, you are no longer trapped by the past actions of others and can finally feel free,” says Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  5. Practice self-care. Doing so is not selfish. Caring for oneself helps a person continue to care for others, whether aging parents, your children, friends, or at work. We live in a demanding, stressful world, so we need to take care of ourselves. Doctors at Cleveland Clinic promote self-care – you can find some tips, like taking time to pause, to relax, and to enjoy hobbies, on their website here: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-self-care-isnt-selfish-advice-for-women/.

Value Yourself This Valentine’s Day

Loving yourself, respecting yourself, knowing you are unique and valued, helps a person make wiser decisions about the present and the future. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, let’s love and value others by first loving and valuing ourselves.

Recognizing inner worth, and loving one’s imperfect self, provide the secure foundation for growth. With that security, one is free to grow with enjoyment, not fear of failure — because failure doesn’t change core worth.Glenn Schridaldi, PhD., author of The Self Esteem Workbook