How to love self first

13 Habits of Self-Love Every Woman Should Adopt

By Alison Rachel Stewart — Fact checked by Steven O'Brien — Updated on September 18, 2018

Last year was a difficult one for me. I was really struggling with my mental health and was suffering from depression and anxiety. Looking around at other beautiful, successful women, I wondered: How do they do it? How do they manage to feel so good?

I wanted to find out, and I wanted to share with other women who, like me, wanted to feel happy — wanted to feel well. Tapping into my creative energy, I set out to compile a resource anyone could use. I asked women I knew: What are your mantras and habits of self-care?

What they told me was both revolutionary and a total no-brainer at the same time. If I can practice them, I know you can, too. Here are 13 recipes for self-love that are simple in practice and multifaceted in their benefits.

We’re socialised to be competitive, so comparing ourselves to others is natural. But it can be dangerous. There’s just no point in comparing yourself to anyone else on the planet because there’s only one you. Rather, focus on yourself and your journey. The shift of energy, alone, will help you feel free.

In that same vein, don’t worry about what society thinks or expects of you. You can’t make everyone happy, so this is a waste of time and will only slow you down on your journey to being the best you.

We’re told again and again from a young age “nobody’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes.” But the older you get, the more pressure you feel never to fail. Cut yourself some slack! Make mistakes so you can learn and grow from them. Embrace your past. You’re constantly changing and growing from who you once were into who you are today and who you will be one day.

So, forget about that voice in your head that says you need to be perfect. Make mistakes — lots of them! The lessons you’ll gain are priceless.

This is fundamental! So many things in the world want to distract you from this powerful truth. Sometimes even your own internalized sexism affirms your thoughts of inadequacy. You are valuable because you are you, not because of your body.

So, wear what makes you feel good. If it’s a lot or if it’s a little, wear what makes you feel confident, comfortable, and happy.

Not everybody takes responsibility for the energy they put out into the world. If there’s someone who is bringing toxicity into your life and they won’t take responsibility for it, that might mean you need to step away from them. Don’t be afraid to do this. It’s liberating and important, even though it may be painful.

Remember: Protect your energy. It’s not rude or wrong to remove yourself from situations or the company of people who are draining you.

Like erring, feeling afraid is natural and human. Don’t reject your fears — understand them. This healthy exercise can really help with your mental health. Interrogating and evaluating your fears helps you to gain clarity and unmask issues in your life that were causing you anxiety. That, in turn, can help alleviate some — if not all — of your anxiety.

We so often doubt ourselves and our ability to do what’s right, when most of the time we do know in our hearts what’s best. Remember that your feelings are valid. You’re not losing touch with reality. You know yourself better than anyone else, so be your best advocate.

The timing is never going to be perfect for that next big step in your life. The set up may not be ideal, but that shouldn’t hold you back from reaching to meet your goals and dreams. Instead, seize the moment because it may never come back.

Don’t feel bad about doing this. Women, especially, can grow accustomed to putting others first. Although there’s a time and a place for this, it shouldn’t’ be a habit that costs you your mental or emotional well-being.

Find the time to decompress. Without decompressing and recharging you can put serious strain on yourself. Whether it’s spending the day in bed or outdoors in nature, find what helps you decompress and dedicate time to this.

Allow yourself to feel things fully. Lean into pain, revel in your joy, and don’t put limitations on your feelings. Like fear, pain and joy are emotions that will help you understand yourself and ultimately realize that you are not your feelings.

Get into the habit of speaking your mind. Boldness is like a muscle — it grows the more you exercise it. Don’t wait for permission to take a seat at the table. Join the conversation. Contribute your thoughts. Take action, and know that your voice is just as important as anyone else’s.

Try to notice at least one beautiful, small thing around you every single day. Make note of it, and be grateful for it. Gratitude not only gives you perspective, it’s essential to help you find joy.

The world is full of harsh words and critique — don’t add yours to the mix. Speak kindly to yourself, and don’t call yourself mean things. Celebrate yourself. You’ve come so far and grown so much. Don’t forget to celebrate yourself, and not only on your birthday!

Even if you don’t feel particularly powerful, think about how far you’ve come, how you’ve survived. You’re here, right now, alive and powerful beyond your knowledge. And be patient with yourself. Self-love may not happen overnight. But with time, it will settle itself into your heart.

Yes, you may struggle, but you’ll look back on these moments and see how they were stepping stones on your journey to being the best you.

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Alison Rachel Stewart is an artist and the creator of Recipes For Self-Love, a collaborative initiative that celebrates habits, practices, and meditations for self-care and wellness. When she’s not creating personalized items for her Etsy store, you can find Alison writing songs with her band, creating illustrations, or exercising her creative energy into a new project. Follow her on Instagram.

6 Ways to Love Yourself

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi

Most of us are so busy waiting for someone to love us that we’ve forgotten about the one person we need to love first—ourselves.

Ironically, it was when my ten-year marriage fizzled that I began the innermost process of self-discovery about love.

While discouraged and saddened at the crumbling of our relationship, I began to explore love more. How had it fizzled? Why had we stopped loving each other, and what had happened to our love?

The People Who Were to Have Loved Us

I grew up in a rather patriarchal culture and family, which had trouble expressing or showing love.

In fact, they showed love in unusual and unhealthy of ways. My mother used harsh language, put-downs, and comparisons to others to berate, embarrass, and ridicule me about my personal habits, lack of achievement in school, and potential career choices.

My dad showed love in the form of his belt, which lashed against my body throughout my childhood. I remember horrific lashes, which left marks around my legs, buttocks, and back. If I were lucky, the lashes were made by the softer leathery-parts of the belt. If I wasn’t, it was the buckle, which did the scarring.

The violent strikes resulted from disobedience, for challenging my parents’ authority, and mediocre grades.

My adolescent years were filled with memories of some of these physical scars, which have disappeared, but also emotional scars, which continued to linger.

My ex-wife’s parents similarly showed love in unhealthy ways: ignoring her feelings, constantly criticizing and comparing her to others, and not expressing their love for her.

What I’ve realized since our divorce was that we were two damaged people who had trouble loving ourselves, let alone each other. When the love you’ve known has been physically harmful, emotionally painful, and psychology scarring, how do you love another person?

With this realization, I’ve had to find ways to love myself first.

You too may have been unloved or shown love in unhealthy ways in your life. Here are some tips on loving yourself first before searching for love in your life.

1. Be kind to yourself.

You may have hurts, emotional pain, and shortcomings. Learn to accept yourself, shortcomings and all, even if your family and previous partners may have berated you about your inadequacies.

We tend to be harsh on ourselves, often because the people who were supposed to love us were unusually cruel and heartless to us. We hear their non-stop chatter in our minds and our beings.

Focus on your many positive qualities. Focus on your strengths, your abilities, and your admirable traits. Let go of harsh judgments, comparisons to others, and self-hatred.

When you can see yourself as the soulful and divinely inspired person you are, the damaging internal dialogue doesn’t hold up.

Be gentle with yourself.

2. Feel the love within you and be that love.

You may experience both self-hatred and self-love. Spend more time focusing on self-love.

Try loving and positive affirmations. Nourish your soul through a love-kindness meditation or spiritual practices that help you feel compassion and love toward yourself.

Once you feel vibrations of self-love or the peace of positive affirmations, try to be in that place of love throughout your day.

Infuse this love with your interactions with others in your life.

3. Give yourself a break.

You’re not perfect. No one is. You don’t have to be at the top of your game every day. No one is happy all the time. No one loves themselves always. No one lives without pain.

Be willing to embrace your imperfections and excuse your bad days. Don’t set such high standards for yourself emotionally and mentally. It’s normal to feel sadness and pain and to hit some low points in life.

Allow yourself to embrace these emotions without judging yourself for them.

4. Embrace yourself.

Are you content being alone by yourself without feelings of anxiety, fear, and judgment?

You may have to go within and seek solace in yourself to be comfortable in your own skin. Practice moments of alone time and be aware of how you treat yourself.

Learn to embrace solitude and allow yourself to be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about yourself.

The process of self-discovery can happen through the process of clinical therapy or counseling. This healing process can help you discover who you are and what your obstacles to loving yourself are.

In the alternative, periods of introspection, silent meditations, journaling, and sharing your feelings with supportive friends may help you be more aware of who you are.

The process of loving yourself starts with understanding your true nature.

It took a combination of meditation, therapy, writing, and silence to come to terms with my past and my present. Only once I realized I wasn’t loving myself could I attempt to change that.

5. Be grateful.

Rhonda Byrne, author of The Magic, shares with us a powerful way to change all of our relationships and our life.

Byrne encourages us to practice gratefulness and regularly count our blessings.

“When you’re grateful for the things you have, no matter how small they may be, you will see those things instantly increase,” Byrne says.

She includes twenty-eight practices for twenty-eight days of your life to help you feel gratitude more deeply. Her initial practice is a formula to count your blessings.

She encourages you to write out the following sentence for ten items you’re grateful for everyday.

“I am truly blessed to have _____________, because _____________(why?).”

You will immediately start loving yourself more when you realize all the things you’re grateful for in your life.

6. Give yourself in service to others

When you think about kindness toward others and being love to others, you open the door to divine love.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Yes, giving to others is a gift of love you can often give yourself which brings you more love.

When you’re being kind, considerate, compassionate, and giving of yourself, your soul will rejoice. You’ve reached the highest level of self-love in this state of serving others.

Find ways to do small and large tasks to assist those living in your house, neighborhood, or community. Practice conscious acts of kindness and giving.

The love you’re sharing with others in the form of service will help you feel more love and fulfillment in your life.

You’ll realize you don’t need someone else to feel complete any longer. You’re complete.

A relationship will only make you shine brighter and bring more love in your life.

About Vishnu

Vishnu is a writer and coach who helps people overcome breakups to rebuild their lives and live with purpose.  He blogs at For Vishnu's latest book, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart, visit his Amazon page here.

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Before you love, love yourself


Loneliness Man and woman

I will either have to ask for "more" or give up the other person's feelings, because I still don't have enough of them. In any case, it will be difficult for me to give something: without loving myself, I think that I cannot give anything worthwhile and interesting to another.

He who does not love himself first uses and then destroys the trust of his partner. The "provider of love" becomes embarrassed, he begins to doubt and eventually gets tired of proving his feelings. Mission impossible: you can't give another what he can only give himself - love for himself.

One who does not love himself often unconsciously questions the feelings of another: “Why does he need such a nonentity as me? So he's even worse than me!" Lack of self-love can also take the form of an almost manic devotion, an obsession with love. But such an obsession masks an insatiable need to be loved.

So, one woman told me how she suffered from... her husband's constant declarations of love! There was a hidden psychological abuse in them that nullified everything that could be good in their relationship. After parting with her husband, she lost 20 kilograms, which she had previously gained, unconsciously trying to protect herself from his terrorizing confessions.

I am worthy of respect, which means I am worthy of love

The love of another can never make up for our lack of love for ourselves. As if under the cover of someone's love you can hide your fear and anxiety! When a person does not love himself, he longs for absolute, unconditional love and requires his partner to present him with more and more evidence of his feelings.

One man told me about his girlfriend, who literally tortured him with feelings, testing the strength of the relationship. This woman seemed to be asking him all the time, "Will you still love me even if I treat you badly if you can't trust me?" Love that does not entail a dignified attitude does not form a person and does not satisfy his needs.

I myself was a favorite child, my mother's treasure. But she built a relationship with me through orders, blackmail and threats that did not allow me to learn trust, benevolence and self-love. Despite my mother's adoration, I did not love myself. At the age of nine I fell ill and had to be treated in a sanatorium. There I met a nurse who (for the first time in my life!) gave me an amazing feeling: I am valuable - just the way I am. I am worthy of respect, which means I am worthy of love.

During therapy, it is not the therapist's love that helps to change one's view of oneself, but the quality of the relationship that the therapist offers. It is a relationship based on goodwill and the ability to listen.

That is why I never tire of repeating: the best gift we can give a child is not so much to love him as to teach him to love himself.

Photo Source: Getty Images

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How to learn to love yourself? 15 steps to care and acceptance

Olesya Akhmedzhanova

Every day tests and tests us for self-love: when we look in the mirror, communicate with a partner, meet friends, go to work. Every moment of our lives, we can feel the support within ourselves or scold our poor self. Together with the book "You Are the Guru" we tell you how to stop hating yourself and learn to accept.

Where is our love?

If you think about it, you can see how many of us take care of ourselves for years: exercise, diet, massage, spiritual practices and various forms of meditation.

But when life really begins to test us, we never find true self-love to lean on.

This is what the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says about this: “... all these years, it seems, have not added anything to their inner strength and kindness to themselves, which would help to cope with what is happening . .. When we allow ourselves unconditional acceptance of ourselves, it is then we really take care of ourselves in a way that pays off."

You are the guru


This approach forces us to look deeper into our own soul to find answers. It's time to stop looking for "signs from above" that we are loved and start looking for signs that we love ourselves. Here are some ways to do it right now.

Love what you can already now

Tempered, but surprisingly effective advice - start small. Love yourself just the way you are, now. Some days you will have to be content with loving the color of your eyes or tidying up your desk. Wonderful. Choose at least something - just to divert your mind from hatred. There will be days when you will be shocked by the realization that you are an incredible, whole person. Believe me, gradually this feeling will become your protection and meaning in difficult times.

Remember good manners when talking to yourself


Oh, those words that we use so often about ourselves. They are often unnecessarily cruel and harsh. Would you treat someone else this way? For example, would you talk to a child like that? Remember: love is patient, love is kind. Love says, “Oh, poor thing. No wonder you feel this way. It wasn't easy." That's what your best friend would say after you poured out your soul to her. You don't need a motivational speech or meditation to take your mind off things. All you need is a little empathy for yourself.

Seek love for yourself in others

If you can't find compassion for yourself, find it in your friends and those you admire. This is the beauty of the fact that we all go through the same thing together. We can share the ability to love with each other. Your close friend can tell you something that will inspire and support: “You are incredible, resourceful, kind and very attractive…”

Connect with those who love you


This is not arrogance or snobbery in the name of self-help. This is the minimum condition for maintaining a healthy environment. You develop most actively when you feel kindness, receive feedback and you have someone to laugh with. You don't view relationships as a spiritual training camp (even if they are). Let only love seekers like you be in your close circle of friends (by the way, one person is enough for a close circle).

Prioritize pleasure

After years of self-abuse, doing something for pleasure is quite a feat. Pleasure heals. Pleasure makes it easy to cope with all the (seemingly) insurmountable difficulties of ordinary life. Pleasure gives you strength, and you know it.

Reward yourself for every effort


Reward yourself for more than just achieving your goals. And don't punish failure. Sometimes it's important to just be, because love is an endless process, not a path to the finish line.

No need to endure - you need to accept

You can consider that tolerance for your weaknesses is already an achievement. But tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Tolerance forces you to be on guard all the time: in fact, you only cope with the level of dissatisfaction with yourself. Instead, you accept that from now on, no matter what happens, you work only with the following: strengths and weaknesses. This decision allows you to create a close connection with your inner self that nothing can destroy.

Make friends with your loneliness

The ancient philosopher Plotinus said that on the path to enlightenment you go through the stages of loneliness from "lonely" to "Exceptionally Lonely". The latter is what a person feels who has made himself the center of his universe. This is not an easy task. But the flip side of this sense of isolation is that it makes us more responsible and able to connect with the world. We care about our own loneliness and about others. And we are more aware of what we are giving to this world.

Set personal boundaries


It's simple: say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. You do love yourself.

Say what you mean

Don Miguel Ruiz puts it better: “You can measure the perfection of your promises by the level of your love for yourself. How much you love yourself and how you feel is in direct proportion to how strong your word is.” You value your time, you value your word. You love yourself enough to know that every commitment you make - from the time you promise to appear somewhere to the vows for life - is sacred, because you are also sacred.

Take risks

Love expands the personality so much that you are ready to do bold things. You see what you are really capable of. You not only trust yourself more, but you are sure that life will insure you when you dare to grow.



Loving yourself does not mean that you are always right. If you are close to yourself, you see where and when you did something wrong and hurt other people's feelings. You know that your integrity will not be broken when you admit your shortcomings. You have a foundation of self-compassion and awareness that you stand on so confidently that you can say, “I'm sorry. I know that I can fix everything, and I will."

Don't give up

Don't give up doesn't mean passively waiting. This is the kind of endurance that comes from self-respect. Self-love gives you the strength to say “no thanks” and to walk away and be comfortable with the status quo. Or you are able to admit that the situation annoys you - and while this is normal. All your standards are determined by self-love.

Love yourself like it's your job

Unconditional self love
Loving yourself is not a luxury or a genetic gift that confident people are born with. Love is a journey and a destination. It's how you decide what stays in your life and what leaves. Love is the reason you decorate your body and invest in your ideas. Your life force, the decisive factor and your greatest knowledge. Love yourself as if your life depended on it.

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