Developing a loving, strong, healthy relationship with yourself is one of the most important and life-changing journeys you can take. I say it’s a journey. In my work, I’ve found that we constantly evolve, learn about ourselves, and heal. For many people, developing a new loving, caring relationship with themselves takes time, effort, and patience. It requires letting go of old thoughts, patterns, and behaviors while allowing their heart to open to more patience, compassion, and understanding.
In this post, we’ll cover what self-love is, the benefits of developing more of it, the things that get in the way of self-love, and how to move past them. I’ll also provide tips, exercises, and daily practices that you can start implementing today to help you on your self-love journey.
I have linked these 55 tips for learning self-love into the following categories:
What is Self-Love?
Self-love is a state of how you think about, care for, and appreciate yourself. Self-love means you are making your needs a priority and not sacrificing them to please others. To be self-loving towards yourself, you have high regard for your well-being and happiness. You prioritize caring for your needs-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Benefits of Developing Self-Love
Self-love is how you feel about yourself. The benefits of self-love are infinite. Self-love goes hand-in-hand with your confidence, how you think about yourself, and the energy you put out into the world. Developing self-love helps you generate more inner peace and happiness while supporting you in strengthening the loving relationships you have with others.
Self-love is the foundation for all the relationships and experiences you bring into your life. How you treat yourself is the same as how you allow others to treat you. Creating a loving relationship with yourself is the best place to start if you want to manifest loving, healthy relationships with a partner or others.
Spend Time with Yourself (Alone)
Spending time alone with yourself is the first step to developing a loving and healthy relationship with yourself.
1. Solo Travel
Solo travel helps you reconnect with yourself, what is important to you and what you don’t like. The whole trip is about prioritizing you, your interests, and your care. Solo travel naturally helps break you out of your comfort zone in an exciting and fun way.
I find I always come back energized, with more confidence and belief in what’s possible for me after solo traveling. There are aspects of building resilience, reflection, courage, overcoming fear, and problem-solving that are naturally built-in to traveling solo that you can then turn around and say to yourself, “If I can do that, I can do this.”
2. Have Fun by Yourself
You can have fun by yourself, I promise! I’ve been doing it for years! Take part in activities that bring you pleasure and joy, whether a new sport, a new hobby, expressing creativity, going on a hike, or exploring a new place.
Having fun alone doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself from others, but you are setting out for an experience rather than focusing on spending time with friends. The experience is about you, not others.
3. Get Out into Nature
One of the best things for your soul is getting out into nature. Nature can help you reconnect with emotions such as peacefulness, calmness, and joy. It can also inspire creativity and support clearing your mind and finding better focus and concentration.
Connecting with the natural rhythms of nature may help you better connect with your own natural rhythms and desires.
4. Get Active/ Exercise
Exercise has been proven to improve mental health and boost self-esteem. Both are critical components in learning to love yourself. The more you can do to feel healthy and good about yourself and take care of your body, the more you will have a loving relationship with yourself.
5. Find a New Hobby
Engaging in a hobby is a great way to connect with yourself and honor all the different parts of yourself. If you have a hobby that you’ve been ignoring but enjoy, it’s time to resurrect it! And if you don’t have any hobbies, it’s a great time to begin exploring your curiosities and interests.
Hobbies can bring to light various parts of ourselves. They may bring out your creativity, your eye for beauty or art, learning about things of interest, physical pursuits, and so much more! Embracing the part of you that enjoys making things such as jewelry, for instance, or sewing, means you are honoring and caring for that part of you. Learning to love yourself is about honoring rather than suppressing all the parts of you.
6. Put Down Your Phone and Technology Gadgets
This one can be hard for many people, but your phone (and tech) can be a massive block in your relationship with yourself. Many people reach for tech to numb emotions and/or discomfort, often without even realizing it. In doing so, you are disconnecting from yourself and your emotions.
Social media, in particular, can lead you down a road of comparisons, weighing down your self-confidence and making you feel less than. When learning to love yourself, it’s important to surround yourself with supportive, positive experiences rather than negative situations.
7. Create a Meditation Practice
Daily meditation can support relaxation and stress reduction, helping to boost positive thoughts about yourself and your life. Meditation also supports you in developing self-awareness, reducing negative thoughts, and emotions, stress management, creativity, patience, and resilience. All of this help produce positive benefits in how you feel about yourself!
While many people associate meditation with sitting in silence, there are a variety of different forms of meditation that can best suit you! Some types of meditation are guided meditation, mantras, and mindfulness meditation. There are also movement-oriented meditations, such as walking meditation, yoga, and tai chi. Some people find activities such as gardening, running, and swimming laps to provide a meditative experience.
Experiment with what works for you- what elicits relaxation or steadiness in your breathing and body. Look for what helps focus your attention and quiets the noise in your mind and the world around you.
8. Get Creative
People express themselves in many different ways. Allowing yourself to get creative helps you learn more about yourself and connect with yourself. Take time to discover what comes through you when you don’t have expectations and allow yourself to just create.
You can be creative in various ways, whether with DIY crafts, painting, photography, writing, or drawing. Creativity should be limitless.
9. Learn Something New/Get Curious
Much like learning a new hobby (mentioned above), an important part of honoring your whole self is to get curious about what interests you, take time to learn new things, challenge yourself and your mind to grow, and maybe even get a bit uncomfortable.
Maybe you learn a new recipe in the kitchen or a new sport or game. You could also take learning to an academic level or invest in a class or course to increase your knowledge. The good news is having easy access to technology also means easy access to various digital courses and online learning opportunities.
10. Find Time for Joy
Find the things that make you truly happy and joyful in life and carve out more time for them. One way to develop your self-love is to spend time doing things that bring you true heartfelt joy in life.
Be Vulnerable with Yourself (and Others)
Being vulnerable with yourself requires you to get curious, loosen your control over your emotions, and take a risk to really get to know what’s inside of you.
Journaling is one of the best ways to get to know yourself and connect with yourself on a deeper level. A key to journaling is letting the writing flow; let out what you are holding in, dreaming about or just what’s happening in your life.
Journaling helps you develop a new awareness of what’s happening in your life and what you want to manifest in life. Journaling is putting your thoughts, emotions, and dreams in motion. I’ve provided tips on how to start journaling here.
12. Develop Self-Trust
Developing self-trust is critical in creating a healthy relationship with yourself built on love. While it’s common for people to disregard what they have promised themselves, doing so slowly chips away at how you trust yourself. I think it’s important to note that you also need to be realistic with yourself so you can do what you say. So often, people can over plan or take on too much, forcing them to break their promises to themselves.
Developing self-trust comes from self-reflection, and taking time to get to know yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Then be realistic with yourself when you set expectations for yourself. For example, if you know you’re not a morning person, plan to go to the gym after work rather than before work.
13. Develop Your Intuition
Your intuition is one of your greatest gifts. Your intuition supports you in making the best decisions for yourself. It can guide you to the right places at the right time and help keep you safe and protected. Everyone is born with intuition, some feel it more strongly than others, but we all have it. Some may think of it as a “gut feeling”, a “knowing,” or a mother’s instinct.
Your intuition is directly connected to your self-trust. The more you build a relationship with yourself and trust yourself, the clearer you become when your intuition speaks to you. One exercise to get more in touch with your intuition is by doing a body scan when you are making a decision or when something new or different is happening in your life. Notice any sensations, tension, or expansion you feel in your body, take notes in a journal and look for patterns over time.
14. Ask for Help and Support
Allowing others to help you and support you is self-love. We all have an innate desire to be loved and give love to others. Community and connection are important for well-being. When you allow others to help and support you, you are opening yourself up to being cared for by others and caring for yourself.
15. Sit in the Discomfort of Your Emotions
We have gotten to a place in our society where so many people struggle with having to sit with any amount of discomfort, which leads people to move quickly and numb out with phones, food, alcohol, etc.
Learning to sit in the discomfort of your emotions allows you to feel all the feels, good and bad. It also allows you to take more risks and go after what you want in life. So often, it’s not fear that holds people back, it’s more the avoidance of discomfort that keeps people stuck in life. For many staying comfortable feels safer, even if the situation isn’t making them happy in life. The more you learn to be uncomfortable, the more you can take chances, allow yourself to grow, and become the person you truly want to be.
16. Reflect on Your Judgements of Yourself and Others
The world in which we live right now is filled with judgment, people are judgmental of others and themselves. Take some time to reflect on your values and actions around the idea of judgment. Judgment creates a separation from others and from oneself.
17. Embrace All Your Parts
We all have different parts of ourselves. Some parts might be a protector, a nurturer, a teacher, a leader, a mother, a listener, etc. Embracing all these different aspects of who you help you to connect with your whole self. Seeing the positives in all your traits, even the parts you may not love, look for acceptance and reflect on how these traits may be an asset in life.
18. Practice Advocating for Yourself
Loving yourself means honoring your needs, what you need to feel at your best, and prioritizing those needs. That may mean saying no to things, asking for help, asking for space, or having quiet time. To practice self-love is to use your voice to stand up for yourself and your needs. If this is new to you, find “small” ways to ask for and accept help and support. One example might be, asking a waiter for something to make your meal more enjoyable and staying with the feeling and sensations in your body on how it feels to ask for your needs to be met.
19. Open Your Heart
Opening your heart is the key to self-love and truly loving others. Being able to give and accept love to others and yourself is your heart’s job. Honoring that many people experience heartaches and heartbreaks that cause them to protect their hearts, you want to be gentle with yourself as you practice opening your heart to loving yourself and others.
20. Practice Compassion with Others (and Yourself)
Brené Brown defines compassion in her book Atlas of the Heart as “the daily practice of recognizing and accepting our shared humanity so that we treat ourselves and others with loving-kindness, and we take action in the face of suffering.”
What I truly appreciate about this definition is that compassion is a daily practice; it is something we work at daily, much like a gratitude practice. Compassion is the act of treating ourselves and others with love and kindness.
Kindness to ourselves and others doesn’t always come easy, but it’s a choice you can make. When it comes to self-talk, people can be really hard on themselves and say things that they wouldn’t say to a child or someone they love. Practice giving yourself that same kindness and gentle self-talk you would give to a child or a loved one to build your self-love.
21. Release Perfectionism
Living in perfectionism typically means you are setting unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself that can never be achieved, or once they are achieved, the bar is immediately raised as essentially nothing you ever do feels good enough or complete as perfectionism is unattainable. Perfectionism is mentally and emotionally exhausting and can keep you in a cycle of self-judgment and criticism.
Prioritize Your Mental Health & Healing
22. Nix Self-Comparison
Comparison is something we all do as humans, we compare ourselves to others in different social settings. Whether running a race or in a professional group setting, it’s impossible not to notice who the fastest runners are or who shares great ideas.
Given that as humans, we naturally compare in social settings, we don’t have to let our comparisons define who we are. This is why it’s so important to develop a relationship of self-love from within. When we derive our worth from within rather than gathering our sense of self-worth from comparing ourselves with others, we can stay true to who we are and not get caught up with the common emotions of fear, shame, and sadness that come from frequent social comparison.
The first step is to be more mindful of when and how you compare yourself to others. From a place of awareness, you can choose to make a better choice that is more in alignment with your heart.
23. Develop a Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness is being consciously aware of your present state, and what you are experiencing at the moment; this could be your emotions, thoughts, or body sensations. Developing a mindfulness practice, helps you to develop a relationship with yourself. Awareness of how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically is the first step to honoring how you feel and connecting more deeply with yourself.
A mindfulness practice may be taking time to focus on your breath. Listening to the sounds outside while sipping on tea or coffee. Journaling about what you are aware of in your mind and your body in the present moment. Mindfulness practices are about bringing you consciously into the present moment.
24. Invest in Therapy
If you have low self-esteem or a lack of self-love for yourself, there are likely past experiences and relationships that may impact how you feel about yourself. Taking time to invest in your own healing and having that support from another person will help you develop a healthy and loving relationship with yourself.
25. Heal your Traumas, Blocks, and Triggers
We all have traumas, blocks, and triggers. We are all human, some of us have deeper traumas than others, but we all have experienced different forms of trauma and hardships. If you find that you are having a hard time developing a love for yourself, you may need to heal some past traumas that are weighing you down.
Whether you consciously realize and remember them or not, your body and subconscious mind always remember them. Your body may respond with anxiety, panic attacks, chronic pain, or feeling stuck or antsy in life. Trauma lives in our bodies and holds us back in many ways until it is healed and we can find emotional freedom from the experiences weighing us down.
26. Prioritize Your Physical Health
Your mind and body are very intertwined. Supporting your physical health, whether that’s through exercise, yoga, eating healthy, receiving massages, keeping up with doctor’s appointments, and any medications, supplements, etc., all support both your mental and physical health. The better you feel in and about your body, the more confident and caring you will be towards yourself.
27. Practice Healthy Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are one way you set expectations for others of what your needs are and how you want to be treated. Being a people pleaser or a yes person tells people you have no boundaries. Boundaries may be set in regard to how you allow others to speak to you. They may be regarding how you spend your time, the amount of space, or the alone time you need.
You may begin to create boundaries around your workout time, evening bedtime routine, meal time, or personal quiet time. Boundaries may also include setting aside work or creating sacred time for family members, friends, or a romantic partner.
28. Reconnect with Your Values in Life
I’ve found one of the most important things I can do when spending time journaling and reflecting is to reconnect with what my values are in life. It’s a way of keeping myself “in check.” Life is busy, and it’s easy to get off track and get caught up in things that are fun, but maybe not actually important to you.
For example, I value quality time with family and friends, love, kindness, self-care, my health- the food I eat and physical activity, my emotional healing, health, spending time outdoors and being active, having freedom, and living with integrity. When I get caught up in life, I may let things go, such as self-care, physical activity, or time with loved ones. Taking time to reflect allows me to regroup and reprioritize how I spend my time and money.
29. Retrain Your Brain
Invest time in observing how you speak to yourself and how you think about yourself. Our thoughts become our beliefs, they become how we act and move through life. Reframing how you think and talk about yourself will help you have a more positive and loving relationship with yourself. A great way to work on reframing negative self-talk or inner critic talk is through the use of affirmations.
30. Lean into Your Emotions
We often want to push our emotions aside, fix them, and not feel them. What usually ends up happening is that we just bury them. Then they compound, which can result in bouts of anger, depression, sadness, anxiety, etc. Taking time to pause and feel what you feel while working on accepting how you feel will benefit you greatly and help you find room for more self-love.
Self-love develops when we are gentle, kind, and compassionate with ourselves. If you are experiencing heartbreak or loss, it’s normal to feel sadness, the sadness means you have loved and cared about someone or something.
31. Release Judgment
Hiding behind the judgment of ourselves and others is usually shame. Brené Brown defines shame as an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Because shame is often too difficult to feel or admit to ourselves, instead we find it easier to judge ourselves and others. Recognizing when you are judging yourself or others can help you recognize areas in your life where you feel shame or feel unloveable.
32. Surrender Control
Control is often used to create a sense of certainty. Trying to control everything consumes your time and energy. It can be exhausting! The need for control drives perfectionism, which is the belief that one must be perfect or perceived by others as being perfect to be accepted or loved.
The need for control also tends to drive disconnection from yourself and others rather than the connection and love you desire. Allowing others to help, or take things off your plate- even if they’re not done perfectly is a great start! Starting with small tasks that are not of high value at work or home, with the idea of “done is better than perfect,” is a great place to start releasing control.
33. Develop Your Resilience
Resiliency is about developing your ability to recover from tough times. I like to think the key to building resilience is about building resiliency skills and having “tools” that help you through challenging or anxiety-producing times.
Tools that help support your self-care and help you develop more self-love for yourself. Breathing exercises, physical exercise, journaling, eft/tapping, walking, meditation, positive affirmations, and dancing are all tools that can help you bounce back from stressful or tough times.
Practice Acts of Self-Care
34. Say No More Often
Learning to say no, can be one of the most empowering things you learn how to do. Saying no means you are standing up for what is best for you. You are taking care of yourself and your needs- whether it be time, energy, sacrifices, or something else.
Saying no means, you are prioritizing yourself because you matter most to yourself. How you feel about yourself is more important than people pleasing or what others think about you.
“Chillaxing” is a key to self-care and, ultimately, self-love. Taking that time to relax, to not be in the “doing”, on the go, or in the midst of social plans creates time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. This could be time spent reading a book, relaxing in the sunshine, or taking a relaxing walk. Taking time to allow your nervous system to come to a place of rest allows you to develop a better relationship with yourself.
36. Find work/life balance
It is not uncommon for people to throw themselves into their careers. The problem with this, though, is there can be a sense of loss of self. Your work performance can become how you identify your worth, and/or you may become resentful towards your job or feel that life is not enjoyable as all you do is work. Finding a work/life balance supports you in your mental health and overall happiness in life, which in turn helps you develop more self-love.
37. Prioritize You
Prioritizing yourself and your needs is a way of telling the world and yourself that you matter. Prioritizing yourself means your health and well-being are more important to you than anything else, which is an important step in developing a healthy, trusting relationship based on self-love with yourself.
38. Eat Healthier
The healthier you eat, the better you feel (especially over time). Eating healthy and providing your body with foods that give it proper fuel and nourishment is self-love. Prioritizing your time and money to support healthy meal choices and a balanced diet is also an act of self-love.
39. Indulge in What Makes You Feel Good
Take time to do what makes you feel good, especially when those things are healthy, and contribute to you being your best self. This could be something like carving time out to take a bath in the evening or adding in your favorite bath bomb, giving yourself a facial, whatever makes you feel good and supports your well-being.
40. Practice Letting Go
Practice letting go of what is not serving you mentally, physically, or emotionally. As part of self-reflection, notice what is and isn’t serving you in your life. This could apply to relationships with draining and needy friends, taking time to reflect if their friendship is worth your time and energy.
This could be letting go of habits that aren’t actually making you feel good, such as staying up too late binging on Netflix rather than prioritizing your sleep. This could be letting go of clutter or items that are weighing you down. Letting go of things that bring joy into your life helps you create space mentally, emotionally, and physically for things and people that do bring joy and happiness into your life.
Exercise produces endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Exercise also helps you shift emotions and feel more connected to your body. Exercise may also help you have more confidence in your own skin and love yourself.
42. Reflect Daily
One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the gift of daily reflection. You may find yourself doing this in the car on your way home from work, at the end of the night, or at the beginning of your day. You can reflect in your head, with a friend or co-worker, or in a journal.
Reflecting lets us know what is working and what is not. To notice how you are or are not practicing self-care and compassion towards yourself. Reflection is what allows you to grow and be aware of areas in your life where you have grown. For instance, maybe through reflection, you will notice how you set a boundary at work or where you focused on excellence rather than perfectionism.
Connect with Your True Self
43. Make a List of Your Talents
You know you have them! We all have gifts and talents that make us unique. Focusing on your gifts and talents helps you focus on the positives. Are you thoughtful, ambitious, resilient, loyal, a great singer, an expert cleaner, or a good friend? These are just a few ideas to help you brainstorm a list of the gifts and talents you bring into the world.
44. Find Community
Connecting with like minds, and people with similar interests is a great way to feel a connection. For some people building healthy connections with others helps them develop a healthier connection with themselves. The key is finding people that are positive influences and bring value and goodness into your life. Surrounding yourself with negative influences, pessimistic people, etc can contribute to negative feelings about yourself and life.
45. Connect with Nature and/or a Higher Power
Finding connection and support from something deeper in life, such as nature, a higher power, or the God of your own understanding, can help you deepen your relationship with yourself. When we feel a connection with something beyond ourselves that is of a higher power, it sparks a connection within our own hearts.
46. Gratitude Practice
Developing a gratitude practice is a key to shifting your mindset, and how you feel about life and yourself. It is impossible to truly be in a state of appreciation and negativity or hate at the same time.
When you are truly in gratitude and really feel the gratefulness you have for certain things in your life, it sends healing and positive energy throughout your mind and body. It has the ability to shift your entire mood. Try keeping a daily gratitude journal, writing down three things you are grateful for every night before bed or in the morning before you start your day.
47. Spend time in your Happy Place
Find your happy place and spend some time there. Hint, you can have more than one! You may have a happy place near where you live, and another that’s a favorite vacation spot. Maybe it’s a park or a special place in nature. It may be a favorite restaurant or coffee house. Wherever it is, recognize how you feel when you are there and prioritize spending time there, especially when you aren’t feeling so happy in life.
48. Connect with Your Inner Child
Connecting with the things you enjoyed as a child helps you to connect with a part of yourself that is still there but often ignored. We all have an inner child that still shows up. Often he/she shows up when we are feeling triggers and hurts rather than showing p for the fun stuff we enjoyed as a child.
Take time to tap back into that fun-loving child that is still within you. Take time to make your favorite foods you had as a child or do your favorite activities, such as painting, coloring, dancing, playing in the kitchen, and participating in sports. Whatever it is, take time to reconnect with that part of yourself.
49. Live more from your heart
My entire life has shifted since I started listening and living from my heart. The more you develop self-love and a connection with yourself, the easier it is to connect with your heart and trust what it tells you. The HeartMath Institute has shown that there is constant communication between the heart and the brain. When the heart is in coherence, the body experiences more mental clarity and better decision-making, among other benefits.
50. Set Goals for Yourself
Tap into that inner child of yours. What were her/his goals? What are your goals now? Goals are important to have as they help direct the actions you are taking on a daily basis. Honoring the goals you have for yourself is honoring who you are and what your dreams and desires are.
51. Challenge Yourself
Challenge yourself to go after your dreams and goals. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone just a bit more each day into the life you want. Challenge yourself to get uncomfortable and do things such as eat healthier, exercise more, focus on your mental and emotional health, etc. Challenging yourself is a way of telling yourself you are worth it, that you love yourself enough to want the best for yourself.
52. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
In order to grow and become the person we want to be in life, we must be willing to step out of our comfort zones. That courage to do so is ultimately an act of self-love. You are telling yourself that you love who you are enough to face fears and discomfort in order to grow and move towards more joy and happiness in life.
53. Honor Where You’ve Been
Honoring what you have been through is honoring who you are. When people have experienced trauma, part of that trauma often results in shame around the experience or events that occurred. The only way to heal the shame is to acknowledge what you have been through. Shame grows in secret, but dies when it’s brought to light through healing or sharing your story. Honor your story as well as all you have overcome in life.
54. Set Yourself Up for Success
Self-love means doing things that are loving and kind for yourself. This includes setting yourself up for success. Creating opportunities and ways to have a great day, reach your goals, and succeed each day.
For example, that may mean having fresh-cut fruits or vegetables ready, so you can reach for those over-processed snacks. It may mean carving out time to prepare for something at work or an event or waking up to meditate or work out, knowing that doing these things help you feel calmer and more prepared to take on the day.
55. Embrace the Journey
Life is ultimately a journey. It is full of ups and downs and often unpredictable. As much as many of us like to think we can control life, the truth is we can’t. The only thing we can do is embrace the journey and enjoy the ride.
Learning self-love is a journey of personal growth. Some days you will love yourself more than others. Some seasons in life will have more than others. Like any relationship in life, with friends, family, or romance, some days love comes easy, and other days it takes patience, compassion, and kindness. Give yourself the same unconditional love, kindness and compassion you give to others. The best way to learn self-love is to keep showing up for yourself, and you will develop a more loving and caring relationship with yourself.
Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach with a background in Energy Medicine and a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to, heal trauma, overcome their past and use it to fuel their future. You can learn more about her own healing journey here.