What does it mean to practice healthy self-love? I often talk to my clients about this. Healthy self-love consists of having a kind internal dialogue. In order to do this, we must learn to tame our internal critic. When we notice that voice inside our head telling us, “How could you be so __________ (stupid, lame, clumsy, inconsiderate, rude, etc…..), we need to push the stop button, and find kinder ways to communicate with ourselves. “I’m not happy with the way I handled that situation, let me see what I can learn from this” would be an example.
Healthy self-love includes self nurturing. Many people, especially women, are excellent at nurturing others. Nurturing means to promote growth. So self-nurturing would be engaging in activities which move us toward growth. This could be any type of educational or creative endeavor. It could mean getting outside our comfort zone to experience a different culture, or volunteering with people who are less fortunate. Nurturing oneself is more than the daily shower, it is more than choosing healthy foods for our body, although those are definitely a part of the recipe. In order to grow, we must challenge ourselves to become more than we were yesterday.
Healthy self-love also includes having healthy relationships. In order to do this, we must cultivate healthy boundaries. We set limits with people, say no when we need to, and don’t allow the negativity of others to overwhelm us. We stay firm when we need to be firm, and say no to relationships that damage our self-esteem and keep us from being at peace. Learning to do this is a challenge for many. They confuse a lack of boundaries with being kind. But when we leave ourselves out of the formula, this is not kindness, it is martyrdom. Healthy self-love never includes making us into martyrs.
What can you do today to love yourself better? Make one small change, and practice building on that over time. If you determine that you need some help making changes, it is OK to seek out professional help. You deserve it.