“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Sharon Salzberg
When was the last time you looked at your reflection and extended love to yourself? Before I discovered the life-changing power of self-love, I had not extended love to myself for years. This is the story of how I transformed my self-hatred into self-love, how it changed my life, and several tips to practice in your life.
For a long time, I believed self-love was something to be avoided at all costs. Like many, I had become habituated to the “hustle and grind” mindset. Little did I know, I used this as an excuse to continue with my same habits of self-hatred.
I was surrounded by voices telling me I needed to work harder. There was no escaping the voice that said, “You are not good enough yet! You’re a loser! You don’t deserve success! Keep working harder, or you will remain the same!”
Was this voice telling the truth?
I isolated myself because I thought I did not deserve to have time with friends. The needs of myself and my loved ones were disregarded.
Every day was a constant struggle to get through. There was nothing to look forward to. I was living the same day repeatedly, constantly engulfed with an overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt.
Of course, this only made my circumstances worse, although I overlooked the issue. All that mattered was getting things done.
Self-punishment became my first response if I got off track, lost focus, or made a mistake.
One tiny mistake would throw my whole day into chaos. I would feel like there was no point in continuing the day because “I already failed.” It felt like a sober rain cloud circled over me, raining down with all its might.
Even more saddening was how this affected the way I treated others.
The hatred I extended to myself snowballed into how I perceived and treated my fellow humans, including friends and family.
I had set extremely high standards and expected others to have the same standards. I was judgmental, critical, and rude to others, all without realizing it.
I was living in a state of unconsciousness. I had no idea what harm I was inflicting on myself and others. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I only created more struggle.
Things had got to a point where I didn’t know if I could continue to move on. The feelings of guilt, shame, and anger became the only thing I was familiar with. It had been ages since I experienced joy.
Like many, I dwelled in these familiar feelings because they had been part of my life for so long. Only briefly would I feel happy, but I would quickly return to despair and hopelessness not long after.
I suspected life was supposed to be like this, that I was supposed to suffer. I made things so much more challenging than they needed to be without even knowing.
After becoming acutely aware of the damage my lack of self-love created, I knew something needed to change. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep up with this.
I was not making the progress I expected to be making. Never did I pause to reflect on my purpose, values, or goals. All that mattered to me was productivity, not relationships, happiness, or health.
My current behaviors had landed me here. Clearly, I was doing something wrong.
This is when it hit me.
My perfectionism and negative self-talk were the creators of my pain, hindered my personal growth, and created constant challenges and hopelessness.
The hatred I was extending to myself not only made me less kind to others. It made me harder on myself.
The anger I inflicted on myself took away the self-encouragement, optimism, and positivity needed to move in a new direction, so I remained stuck in the same patterns.
After witnessing accomplished individuals change history with love, I decided to take a different approach. Few have achieved beauty in a state of lack and anger.
Let us not forget about Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa. Every one of these transformational leaders changed the world without using violence. They experienced extreme forms of struggle but continued to move forward with peace, stillness, and determination.
It was time to break free and take a different approach, an approach these history-changers would take.
After realizing that I had been doing things wrong for so long, I began making subtle changes in my life.
I started to change how I viewed myself. Instead of seeing myself as some monster, undeserving of happiness or success, I began to see myself as another human being on a journey, just like everyone else.
We are all imperfect beings on a journey. What we need is not more hatred. We need more encouragement, love, kindness, and compassion.
My imperfections were not an obstacle or something to be angry about; they were beautiful opportunities to learn, grow, and develop. Every flaw I uncovered became a powerful motivator to keep pushing forward.
My imperfections were not something to be upset about; they were something to celebrate and appreciate. Without my flaws, I could not enjoy the journey of personal development. Flaws inspire us to become a better version of ourselves, but only if we change our perception of them.
Self-Love: The Portal to Transformation
Self-love did not just help me uncover the beauty of imperfections. It opened a magnificent portal to transformation.
Self-love is like the key to the door of development. It frees us from our past mistakes and allows us to soar into the future with excitement, gratitude, and joy.
I started to see just how powerful this whole self-love thing is. The more loving I was to myself, the more inspired and motivated I felt to overcome my limitations.
At last, I could escape from the negativity loop instead of repeating the same thoughts, feeling the same feelings, and acting in the same ways.
Transforming how we think about ourselves daily influences how we feel. How we feel affects what we do. What we do determines the results we get, and the results we get determine our future.
I chose to embrace self-compassion and self-encouragement instead of the usual self-aggrandizement. Do not get me wrong, this was hard to do, but it helped me tremendously.
Having embraced imperfections and recognizing the transformational power of self-love, I embarked on the journey of redefining it.
One of the most challenging changes I had to make was how I viewed self-love. I previously viewed it as a weakness or something that would not help me. I held the belief that self-love would move me farther back.
Many of us hold beliefs like these, but they are largely incorrect.
Self-love is simply about doing what is best for us regardless of how we feel. It is a habit, just like self-discipline.
I started to see self-love as a catalyst for growth, not something that would hold me back. I was already holding myself back tremendously with my current behaviors, so something had to change.
Self-love is like a healthy, nourishing meal that energizes and motivates us to keep moving forward. The more nutritious the meals we consume, the more energy we obtain to transform our lives.
How can we become the best version of ourselves if we neglect to nourish ourselves?
A Catalyst for Compassion
After discovering the unwavering power of self-love, I came to realize that the more love and compassion I gave myself, the easier it became for me to show empathy toward others. This was one of the most immediate and valuable lessons I learned from practicing self-love.
When we cease to hold ourselves to impossible standards, we stop doing the same to others. Breaking free from my high standards was difficult but necessary to reduce my constant misery.
We are all unique human beings with different goals, values, and visions. We each have our own standards and purpose in life. Just because I might have higher standards does not make me a better person.
Shifting My Mindset
Self-love even made it easier to overcome challenges. Approaching challenges with a mindset of optimism, positivity, and trust produces much better results than pessimism.
It became easier to see opportunities and possibilities. Before, everything felt like an insurmountable obstacle. Instead of giving up like usual, I chose to persevere, trusting that things would be okay.
I encountered a plethora of obstacles along my journey. There were times when practicing self-love became a burden, but I knew that all I needed to do was trust in the transformational power of it.
It is time for us all to step into the portal of self-love. Doing so will change our lives in more ways than we can imagine.
How to Practice Self-Love
1. Honor your intentions.
This is one of the most essential aspects of self-love. To show how much we love ourselves, we must keep the promises we made to ourselves. Extending love to yourself is about staying committed to your goals, values, purpose, and vision.
2. Get clear on your values and purpose.
Knowing who you are, what matters to you, your life’s mission, and the person you want to become allows you to align your actions with these values. The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be to love yourself. Self-understanding is the key to self-love.
3. Embrace self-appreciation and gratitude.
Dedicate a few minutes to write characteristics or qualities you admire about yourself. These can be material or nonmaterial. You may even enjoy writing something seemingly unimportant, such as “I am proud of myself for getting out of bed this morning.” Only when we reflect on our achievements and honorable qualities do we recognize how accomplished we are.
4. Encourage yourself.
Instead of resorting to self-hatred or self-criticism after making a mistake, move into a state of encouragement. Encourage yourself to keep moving forward despite obstacles. Encourage yourself to try a little bit harder. Move forward in a state of love, joy, and forgiveness.
5. Embrace your imperfections and flaws.
The more imperfect we are, the more opportunities we gain to learn, grow, and evolve. Imperfections are a gift to be cherished, not an obstacle to be pushed aside. Without imperfections, we would not get to enjoy the journey of personal growth. Life would be monotonous and boring.
6. Surround yourself with love.
Spend time with people who encourage you, hold you accountable, and inspire you. The people we spend time with influence who we become. If we surround ourselves with optimistic and loving people, we will cultivate the same qualities in ourselves. Not only should we surround ourselves with loving people, but we should also alter our outer environment to support our habits. This might be hard to do at first, but making minuscule changes to our environment and friend group will program us to engage in self-love.
Before I go, remember, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Sharon Salzberg
I look forward to hearing which self-love practice you will implement!
About Quinn Trimmer
Quinn Trimmer is a personal growth creator and writer. You can visit his website here. Taking a revolutionary approach to personal growth, Quinn aspires to inspire, empower, and guide his readers as a compassionate companion. Join Quinn by subscribing to his free newsletter, The Growth Code, to uncover the secrets of personal growth and to uncover life-changing lessons. You can connect with Quinn on Instagram or Twitter.