When I was in graduate school and my boyfriend told me I needed to love myself first, that his love was secondary, I didn’t know how to do that. I remember thinking about two of my really good friends in college. At the time I had thought of them as selfish and high maintenance, but when I realized I needed to learn how to love myself I also realized that this is what they had been doing. They had recognized their self-worth and owned it.
I began to use them as role models to help me “fake it ’til you make it”. It was really hard for me to see where I was not treating myself the best (we don’t know what we don’t know, right?) but thinking about what they would do made several things stick out like a sore thumb. Slowly I started claiming my worth.
While I was busy acting as if, I made two important discoveries. The first was this:
When we use love as a verb, and “love ourselves” (take loving actions towards ourselves) the feeling follows.
After all, taking loving actions is how we show love to others, so why not ourselves? My second discovery:
Taking loving actions before feeling love, takes courage.
When I was taking my actions I often felt selfish and awkward. I wondered what people would think. I thought I might annoy people or lose friends. I would doubt my decisions or my ‘right’ to ask for something.
The only reason I kept moving forward is because I knew the dangers of not being true to myself. It was self-abandonment and betrayal, or self-love. There was no other option and I was done abandoning myself.
To get you started, here is a list of 40 ways to love yourself:
- Take a break and relax or play
- Take a bath or a long shower
- Sit down with a hot cup of tea and a good book
- Listen to music that makes you feel happy
- Clean out your closet and get rid of any clothes that don’t make you feel comfortable, confident, authentic
- Dress up when you go out — don’t worry about how others will feel to see you looking so good!
- Say “no” to hanging out with disempowering people, even if they “need” you
- Send out an invitation to people who you always feel good being around
- Walk into a room and take the best chair*
- Ask for a better office or a bigger desk*
- Ask for a promotion or raise*
- Re-negotiate aspects of your relationship with your partner/office-mate/friend/parent/sibling (e.g. financial responsibilities, chores, how they treat you)
- Kindly disagree with a friend and share your opinion
- Take time to sit down in a calm environment to savor your food. Everything else can wait!
- Take the time to prepare food that makes you feel beautiful, healthy, energetic
- Guard your time to exercise because it makes you feel fit, energetic, and confident in your body (you can tell others, “I can’t make it, that’s when I go to the gym/do yoga.”)*
- Clean your bathroom (would your role model have a bathroom like that?)
- Remove the clutter in your home
- Get rid of anything that is broken, chipped, cracked
- Get rid of anything that you don’t love or isn’t useful
- Decorate your home in a way you love
- Get a pedicure
- Take 10 minutes every day to meditate
- Only apologize when you are sincerely sorry
- Accept compliments with a simple “thank you”. Period. End of sentence.
- Graciously accept what is offered to you (somebody holding the door for you, the last chair in the room, the last cookie)
- Take the biggest piece of chocolate
- Take the last piece of cake
- Claim shotgun next time you drive with friends
- Pick the best bed/room the next time you share a hotel with friends*
- Stop acting like the best friend and tell your crush you like them
- Pick the movie you are going to see with family/friends
- Pick the restaurant
- Invite others to celebrate your birthday with you
- Invite others to celebrate a recent achievement, no matter how small!
- Tell your boss, “The earliest I could get this to you would be [date you are comfortable with]. Does that work for you?”
- Ask your boss, “I’m working on projects A, B, and C. How should I prioritize these?” (i.e. get out of overwhelm)
- Stop dis-empowering talk and self-depreciating humor (“I don’t know”, “I’m a terrible cook/sister/writer”)
- When you think something negative about yourself, follow it with, “delete that!”
- Say positive things about yourself (“I look really good in this top!”, “I look young for my age”, “I always know what to do”, “I always figure things out”, “I’m fun to be around”, “I’m really organized”)
*If you ever find yourself thinking, “Who does she think she is?!?” when somebody does something like this, I would ask yourself: Where are you not asking for what you need, or claiming your worth? If you are claiming your worth you wouldn’t have been triggered. You might have even found it funny.
When you do not take loving actions, I would ask, “What message are you giving yourself?”
Pay attention to how you feel when taking these actions. Does it feel awkward? Do you feel selfish? Do you doubt your worth? Are you needing to ask for others’ opinion about your decisions — such as for the restaurant or the movie (vs. picking a movie/restaurant and seeing who wants to go)? Notice those judgements. This is where you are uncovering the gap!
I don’t mean this list to be for everyone to do all the time. But if there is a gap for you then this list is yours. I wrote it for you. This is your medicine. Take these actions until they come naturally!
When you love yourself, your capacity to love others wholeheartedly increases as well.
I wrote an article on why self-love is so important, and 3 tips to love yourself today, so check it out. This article focuses on the first tip in that list.
What do you think? Do you have an action you would like to add to the list?