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When you think of love, you think of loving your parents, siblings, pets, friends and significant others. We grow up receiving love and affection from friends and family. As we age, we learn a new form of love, which is romantic love. However, there’s one person we neglect to love in life–ourselves.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return,” writes American poet and songwriter Eden Ahbez.
Self-love is like a superpower. When you have it you sail through life, enjoying the good bits and using your self-love as a shield. But when you don’t have it, it can seem impossible, frightening and unattainable. Remember loving yourself is a process. You don’t wake up one morning and have unconditional love for yourself. With some little changes in your thinking, here’s some advice on getting closer to loving yourself.
Take care of yourself
This one may seem obvious, but it implies paying more attention to self-care. Spoil yourself, take a bath, watch a movie while eating your favorite meal. I’m a caretaker and I always put the people I care about first. Take some time to put yourself first for once. At the end of the day all we have is ourselves, so be kind to yourself.
Be your own best friend
Nothing is worse than being the only single friend in your friend group. All your friends are busy with their significant other and you’re left feeling alone.
“If most of us spoke to others the way we spoke to ourselves, we would have no friends,” says influential writer Aletheia Luna. “Treat yourself with compassion and consideration just as you would a best friend.”
Give yourself complements, pep talks, and explore what it feels like being your own best friend.
Change the way you see your flaws
Many people have trouble letting go of negative thoughts about themselves. These negative thoughts often come from how society tells us we should look, act, think and feel. When you catch yourself talking negatively about yourself, acknowledge the feeling and then consciously change your thought into a more positive one. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, but you can break a bad habit by creating good new ones.
Acknowledge the dangers of a lack of self-love
A lack of self-love can lead to a harmful dependence on others for validation. Relying on others for validation can lead people to set aside their own needs in order to gain others’ approval.
“It wasn’t until my relationship of three years ended that I felt lost and alone, I felt like I was nothing without him,” says Ellie Thunman, junior business major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “Everything happens for a reason, and I needed to feel lost and alone because that’s when I found myself again and put myself first. I didn’t need his affirmations and approval anymore because I was able to give that to myself.”
Realize everyone is on his or her own separate journey of self-love and it won’t happen overnight. However, you have to start somewhere and with repetition the kindness and love you show yourself will become a habit you develop.
“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy behind,” Thunman said. “This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits, anything that made me feel small. My judgment called it disloyal, but now I see it as self-love.”
Your broken heart won’t last forever. You’ll probably date many more guys until you eventually find the right one for you. But you don’t have to be sad while waiting for your soul mate. Give all the love you’ve been giving the wrong person to yourself this time and “the one”will find you when you least expect it.