It took me about a decade of therapy and spiritual journeying until I finally believed in the idea of self-love. Just the idea. The idea that you can fall in love with yourself. Sure I understood self care, but self love was a whole other realm to me. I very much depended on other people to show me love and to validate the experience of love in my life. Until one mystical day, it hit me hard. During a run I felt the urgent need to fall in love with myself. Again, not just love, but fall deeply in love with myself. To give love to myself and be there for myself, regardless of the circumstance or other people. I’ve heard it countless times, but I wasn’t ready to listen yet. I think this is a testament to the idea that you can’t actually understand something until you are ready to. It finally clicked and I remember distinctly the moment I told my husband with tears in my eyes “I don’t think I’ve ever loved myself”.
And so started the journey. But I didn’t really know where to start. How do you learn to love yourself unconditionally in a conditional world?
It starts with your mind (some people will disagree and say your heart, but I believe you need to conquer your mind to even begin to learn to listen to your heart). It starts with presence and gratitude. It starts with stripping away the conditions you put around yourself and around the idea of love. It’s more than self care rituals. Yes, self care can facilitate self love but just because you practice self care does not mean you have truly fallen in love with yourself. You need to establish a foundation. It is a process. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes commitment.
I do believe, there is no right way to learn to love yourself. However, with that being said, these are the ways I’ve learned to to love myself. And thankfully (finally) I can say “I love myself” and not feel like I’m just repeating an overused affirmation from a self-help book. I can now say it with grace and authenticity.
So, in an effort to try and help others save money and time, and stop wasting another second living a life half-live… here is what I have learned to be true about how to fall in love with yourself.
- Literally repeating to yourself 20+ times a day- “I love myself unconditionally”.
Call it a mantra, call it an affirmation. For those who have read The Presence Process by Michael Brown, he refers to these as conscious responses. Whatever you want to call it, say to yourself throughout the day. Don’t just say it as part of a morning practice. When you start to say something negative about yourself or feel a limiting belief creep into your mind, stop it and replace the thought with “I love myself unconditionally”.
“I love myself unconditionally”.
Or, if you already have had the thought, after the thought, simply say “I forgive myself for thinking negatively about myself, I am still learning to love myself unconditionally”.
“I forgive myself for thinking negatively about myself, I am still learning to love myself unconditionally”.
Start saying it to yourself even when you aren’t having negative thoughts. Say it to yourself for no reason. Haven’t you done that before for a lover? “Just calling to say I love you”- telling them you love them for no other reason than wanting to. You have done it for others, do it for yourself. The point is to say it, a lot. During the good parts of a day and the bad parts. When you start to consciously engage with loving thoughts you will begin to naturally shift your mindset towards self love. However, it’s easy to forget to do this, so in order to remember, set reminders on your phone throughout the day. Repetition. Like a child, the best way to learn something is to do it over and over again. Learn to say it to yourself often because you deserve it.
2. Show gratitude towards yourself.
Thank yourself for getting up and going to your job to put food on your table. Or thank yourself for nourishing your body with food or just drinking water because you literally need water to survive. Thank yourself for meditating. Thank yourself for showing up. Thank yourself for doing the best you can. Thank yourself for taking time for yourself. Thank yourself for choosing to get out of bed when you’d rather not. Thank yourself for every act you are taking to live your life. Especially the small acts. The more you thank yourself, the more you are developing a loving relationship with yourself. Think about how wonderful it feels when someone says thank you to you, or the response you get from a loved one when you thank them. Gratitude is love in action. It is amazing and shouldn’t just be reserved for others.
3. Self pleasure (yes, masturbate)
There is no better way to love yourself than giving yourself an orgasm. Have you ever fallen in love with another person because you had great sex with them and have achieved the big O? I know I have. Hopefully you have heard that you bond to someone through sex because of the hormones released during an orgasm. Well, in the realm of falling in love with yourself, if you’re getting yourself off then you are going to fall in love with yourself. Sex and love go hand in hand. So start making love to yourself.
4. Be present. Specifically Breathing.
You can only truly connect with yourself when you are in the present moment (1–3 above in fact require being in the moment). The more time you spend with yourself, the more time you can connect and build a relationship with yourself. The more time you connect with yourself, the more opportunities you have to fall in love with yourself. Kind of like when you are falling in love with another human, the more time you spend with them (especially in the beginning of a relationship), the more you love them. So, take more time to connect with yourself- your breath, your mind, your body. This can be done through journaling, meditating, breathwork or physical movement (running, yoga, dance, again masturbation etc). The important part is to be present.
The most powerful way I have found to be present and connect with myself is through breathing, specifically breathwork. However, no matter the breathing you do, its most important that you connect with your breath. Breathing is keeping you alive right now. If you can connect with the power of your breath you can physically feel unconditional love.
Your breath is moving unconditionally to keep you alive. Tap into that.
5. Unconditional is key
For all of processes listed about, the point is to do all these things now, as you are — unconditionally. Do not wait for the right time. Do not wait to feel a certain way. Repeat that you love yourself even when you feel unattractive, even when you don’t have your dream job, even when you aren’t at your ideal weight, even when you lose, even if you don’t have a large social media following, even if your medium article gets one clap. Regardless of your appearance, your location, your status, your job, your family, or partner — you love yourself. All these elements are just conditions. You must love yourself regardless of them. Be present unconditionally with yourself. So next time you think, I’ll love myself when…no. Love yourself now.
. . .
Do this for yourself. Do this for your loved ones. Do this for the collective. The more love you give yourself, the more love you can give this world- it is simply true.
Plus there are great benefits of learning to fall in love with yourself. Your confidence increases. You are more likely to take risks because you aren’t worried about outside validation. You can live fully. You have more trust and are more open. You learn to live more authentically. Start the process. Go finally fall in love with the right person, you.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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