The Power of Self-Love
By: Laura Amodeo
This blog has been reviewed by Béa Schueller and Elijah Nimijean; edited, formatted and published by Nicholas Murray.
What is self-love?
We often hear “self-love” tossed around when learning about mental health, but what does it actually mean? Many of us believe self-love is about going to the spa and on expensive shopping sprees, thereby treating it as a luxury rather than a necessity¹,². Self-love is so much more than that––it’s about treating yourself with the kindness and respect you give to others, being true to yourself and your values, putting your needs first and prioritizing your well-being³. It’s not only how you treat yourself, but how you feel about yourself as well³.
Why is self-love so important?
When we put others’ needs before our own, we often tolerate abuse and mistreatment, and engage in people-pleasing or self-sabotage²,³. When we disregard self-love, we become our own enemy; every day is a constant unnecessary battle with ourselves. Life is hard enough on its own, so it’s important that we show kindness to ourselves. Showing ourselves some self-love increases our confidence². When you believe in yourself, you leave no room for self-doubt. This makes it easier to forgive yourself when you make mistakes and allow yourself to make them as well. Oftentimes we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and when we do not reach them, we are overly critical of ourselves and talk badly to ourselves about ourselves. Not only is it important to be kind to yourself, but it is also important to show self-compassion when engaging in self-love². For example, if you failed an exam, an overly-critical person might tell themselves that they don’t deserve a break or some rest since they failed. But this is not true. It’s normal to make mistakes. We are only human after all, and we need to forgive ourselves in order to move forward. Taking care of our minds and bodies shouldn’t be something that is optional, and it is not something that needs to be “deserved”.
Taking care of our minds and bodies shouldn’t be something that is optional, and it is not something that needs to be “deserved”.
How self-love impacted my life
My whole life, I felt a constant need to be perfect in every way, which is impossible. This need for perfection often translates into procrastination, since I believed my state of mind also had to be perfect for me to take on a new task. I realized I needed to practice self-love when I became aware of the intense consequences that people-pleasing and self-sabotage was having on my life. I would often (and still do, unfortunately) put others’ needs before my own⁴. If my friend needed help proofreading an assignment but I had my own to write, I would help them instead of prioritizing myself.
Now, I am not saying that you should always put yourself first––there are some circumstances in which putting others first is a no-brainer. However, the most important relationship you have in life is with yourself; it is the one that will stay with you no matter what, so you need to make sure you are your friend and not your enemy. Sometimes, you just need to put yourself first. My self-love journey has only just begun. I still have lots to work on, but the most important thing is not to give up.
How to practice self-love
There are multiple ways we can practice self-love. Here are a few tips that I have found useful in my self-love journey:
First, although it may be difficult to adjust to, setting boundaries is a great place to start. Think about what you are comfortable with in the relationships that you have in your life. If anyone violates your boundaries, you owe it to yourself to let go of that relationship⁴.
Second, a great way to engage in self-love is to change the internal narrative that we have with ourselves⁴. We often bully or make fun of ourselves as a joke, but sooner or later we might start to believe it. So, it is crucial to speak kind words to ourselves. This can be done with words of affirmations, such as “I am proud of myself” or “I did my best.” If you would like to read more about affirmations, you can take a look at Emeline’s blog on positive affirmations!
Finally, another way to work on self-love is by listening to your needs⁴. When you feel tired, your body needs to rest. If you continue working while ignoring your needs, it will only make you feel worse in the long term. Another example is being hungry, but waiting to finish your task before being able to eat. We often ignore these small needs that might sound silly to us, but in fact, they are quite crucial.
Self-love isn’t going to happen overnight, it will take some time and it is something that we need to do for ourselves for the rest of our lives. Remember that you deserve the love and care you give to everyone in your life.
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- Sandoiu, A. (2018, March 23). Why self-love is important and how to cultivate it. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321309
- Simi Psychological Group. (2020, August 31). 5 Critical Reasons Self-Love is Necessary for Happiness. Simi Psychological Group. https://simipsychologicalgroup.com/5-critical-reasons-self-love-is-necessary-for-happiness/
- Martin, S. (2019, May 31). What is Self-Love and Why Is It So Important? Psych Central; Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2019/05/what-is-self-love-and-why-is-it-so-important
- Alison Rachel Stewart. (2017, November 17). 13 Steps to Achieving Total Self-Love. Healthline; Healthline Media. https://www.healthline.com/health/13-self-love-habits-every-woman-needs-to-have