Our self-esteem impacts every aspect of our lives, from our day-to-day satisfaction to building strong, lasting relationships. So why do many of us struggle to practice self-love if it’s so critical to our happiness?
Many of us experienced trauma, whether in our childhood, adolescence or in a toxic relationship, that stripped us of our confidence and forced us into a cycle of broken relationships and unhappiness. This trauma robbed us of the opportunity to discover ourselves and find pride in who we are.
In order to move on from this trauma, we must get to the root of ourselves; it’s hard to have self-esteem if you don’t even know yourself. I’ve created a list of seven steps you can take to know yourself, improve your self-esteem, increase your self-love, and heal yourself and your relationships. Reconstructing your self-esteem will increase your confidence, empower you to find your own voice, free you of the thief of joy that is comparison, and end the cycle of negative self-talk.
You deserve to feel powerful, peaceful, and happy with yourself. All of that is possible if you are ready to put in the work.
Honor all sides of yourself.
There are times when we all get stuck in our roles. We think of ourselves as just a mother, just an attorney, just a spouse; but the truth is that nobody is only one thing and, when we forget the other aspects of our true selves, we lose ourselves inside the role we play. But nobody is ever just one thing, we are all multifaceted beings, and it’s important for us to honor every side of ourselves. If you want to be fully giving of yourself and your love, whether that’s to your partner or your children, you must first honor your full self.
Maybe you are a mother… but maybe you’re also a painter. A baker. A reader. A dancer. A dreamer. A runner. A traveler.
Think of all the things you are and pay special attention to the activities and experiences that. Give yourself the gift of acknowledging and honoring all those other sides of yourself.
Make a “love” list.
What are some things you love to do? Maybe you like to listen to music, play board games with friends, or wake up early on Sunday mornings to do yoga. Make a list of everything that you love, everything that gives you joy, and then do those things. Make space in your life, preferably at least 15 minutes a day and at least a full hour once a week, to experience the things that you love to do.
When we actively seek out things we love and carve out a specific time each day to have those positive experience, we experience a twofold benefit: we get to look forward to that experience all day and we get to carry the joy of the experience with us when it’s complete.
Repeat positive affirmations.
Take a moment to look at the thoughts and self-talk you’ve put on autopilot. What are you telling yourself? What is that inner dialogue saying? Then, consider how those thoughts are serving you. Are they bringing you joy? Do they make you feel good?
Acknowledge the subconscious thoughts that cross your mind, but do not give them space. Instead, replace them with positive affirmations. Say the following phrases to yourself at least twice a day:
Apologize to yourself. Say “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being attentive, for not listening to you, for not honoring you in the best way.”
I love you.
This is so powerful. Every single one of us wants to be loved. But how can we expect love from others if we are unwilling to love ourselves? Say out loud “I love you, self. I love every facet of you.
I forgive you.
As you lay in bed each night, reflect on your day and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for anything that makes you feel shame or guilt. Say out loud, “I forgive you. I forgive you for not accomplishing all the tasks you wanted to. I forgive you for making mistakes. I forgive you for struggling.” Then, let it go. Release that shame and guilt and allow yourself to be forgiven.
This is so important. Remember to thank yourself for existing, for making an impact on the people around you, for trying your best, for just being you. These affirmations can replace any negative self-talk and give you a chance to honor and heal yourself of pain.
Find and seek positive influences in your life.
It’s often said that we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. It’s important to evaluate what sort of influence the people in your life have on your day. If you find that some of the people you spend your time with are having a negative impact on your life, then limit the time you spend with those negative influences. In situations where you know you will be spending time with negative or toxic people, such as family members that you can’t dodge, prepare yourself. Use your positive affirmations to pump yourself up before you engage with them. Remind yourself of your strength, your beauty, your power, and your value. As often as possible, choose to spend time with people who lift you up and bring you joy.
Make a list of your accomplishments.
Take some time to sit and write out everything you’ve accomplished. That doesn’t mean massive accomplishments, like a new career or some award, that means write down everything you’ve accomplished. Did you graduate high school? Great, write it down! Did you catch up on the laundry yesterday? Yep, write that down to. Anything that you’ve completed goes on the list. Then, for the next 21 days at least, reflect on that list. Read it back to yourself. Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments and allow yourself to be amazed by all the tiny things that added up.
Develop skills and passions that give you a sense of accomplishment.
Take a look at the things you’re passionate about and take some time to develop the skills related to that passion. You can also learn something completely new! Either way, developing new skills gives us something to be proud of, which is an important confidence-booster. Building new skills makes us feel good about ourselves and it also gives us something to brag about.STOP comparing yourself to others.
Let me start by saying this: social media isn’t real life. Theodore Roosevelt once famously said that comparison is the thief of joy, and he couldn’t have been more correct. Please, for the sake of your own happiness, do not start your day with social media. When we scroll through those curated, retouched, and airbrushed photos we aren’t seeing real life; we’re just seeing the version of reality that celebrities and friends want us to see.
The life you have is beautiful.
You are beautiful.
The only comparison you should be doing is comparing today’s self to yesterday’s self. Have you grown? Have you improved? That is all that matters. Acknowledge and embrace your growth.
You are only meant to be you. You aren’t meant to be perfect. You aren’t meant to have the life of some polished celebrity. You are the essence of God’s child and, rather than wishing you were someone or somewhere else, honor and love the miracle that you are.
You are unique and that is your power. Love all of yourself. Show yourself compassion, patience, and forgiveness. Don’t let your mistakes define you; instead, let your self-love and grace be the thing that guides your day. We all fail, we all fall down, we all stumble on our paths.
What matters is that you recognize those mistakes and then let them go.
You are worthy of love and you are especially worthy of self-love.