What Does self-love Mean?
Self-love is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that shines the light of unconditional love on your own being. It’s a concept that speaks to your relationship with yourself. When your relationship with yourself is healthy, that’s typically descriptive of having a loving relationship with yourself.
You like yourself, you love yourself, you treat yourself with kindness and respect, you make decisions that are loving toward your being, and you have a generalized positive attitude about yourself. Think of how you extend love and care to the loved one’s in your life, from your life partner to your kids, to your parents, to your pets, to your dear friends. How often and how consistently do you extend a similar kind of love and care toward yourself? That’s a question worth reflecting on.
What can self-love look like?
Self-love can look like taking time to listen to yourself to surface your needs, wants, and desires, for instance, by keeping a weekly or daily journal that lets you self-reflect (keep reading to get to the 12 journal prompts you can use to start or add to your self-love journey).
It can look like regularly using your voice to ask for what you need and want.
It can look like having a regular self-care routine you prioritize amidst a busy life schedule. Self-care routines can include walks alone, an exercise routine you do with good friends, spa days, prepping a highly nutritious meal, and any other activity that brings the focus to taking care of your body and mind.
It can look like setting healthy boundaries and asserting your needs in relationships.
It can look like various things depending on your unique needs, values, and what you have going on in your life.
However it manifests in your life, self-love is a skill and practice you can cultivate and improve over time to ensure that you give yourself the kindness, nurturance, compassion, and understanding essential for your long-term physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
The human need to be loved and feel belonging is universal — using your ability to direct love toward yourself is just one of the many ways in which the Universe has equipped you to thrive in life.
What are the signs of having self-love?
Here are just a few of the signs that indicate that you have a healthy expression of self-love:
You know and accept who you are and have a keen awareness of your needs, wants, preferences, dreams, and values.
You regularly feel inherently lovable and valuable and on an equal plane to many others.
You matter to yourself.
When you talk about yourself, it’s usually in a positive light. You respect yourself.
You have positive self-talk.
You feel satisfied with who you are even though you have more goals to achieve in your life.
It’s easy for you to put yourself first when it’s necessary to do so.
You trust yourself. You see yourself as capable as many others.
You practice self-compassion.
You easily recognize all of your different strengths and positive qualities.
You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished in life so far.
You have many habits that help you prioritize your health and well-being.
You have an easy time setting and reinforcing boundaries with yourself and in your relationships with others.
Why is it important to practice self-love?
One of the key components of growing and thriving in life is having a foundation of self-love. Loving yourself can help you grow and thrive in all areas of your life.
Inherent in the positive regard you habitually direct toward yourself through self-love are self-support, self-encouragement, self-acknowledgment, and self-appreciation — these are all positive energy inputs that you directly provide to your being when you’re founded in the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that encapsulate self-love. That unconscious positive affirmation of self you direct toward your own being uniquely and directly empowers you.
You move through your life experiences from a place of self-approval and self-validation, an embodied empowered stance that says, “I approve of myself.” Like Superman or Superwoman, with your hands at your hips, chest raised, and confident, you see yourself as solid, capable, loveable, and valuable.
Think of self-love as a mindset, a set of beliefs and perceptions about yourself that inform what you think, say, and do. When what you think, say, and do regarding your being are based in the energy of love, are based in one of the most coherent and orderly vibrations available to you in the Universe, the results of your life reflect that energy.
You harness the life-changing, life-enhancing, and cumulative power of positive emotions when how you see and think about yourself is based in the energy of love. For this very reason, practicing self-love can change, improve, and enhance your life experiences in many different ways.
How do you practice self-love with yourself?
Like any skill you develop and reinforce, self-love is something you can develop and strengthen through consistent practice. Whether you engage with in-depth self-love workbooks, listen to self-love affirmations daily, use guided self-love meditations, regularly practice self-forgiveness, or take on a self-love journaling practice, when you put in the work, you’ll change your neurology, your psychology, your habits, and your energy in the direction of being based in the energy of love.
If you don’t already have the self-love mindset internalized, it will take work and effort to lay the psychological and behavioral foundations. The concepts and information you study on self-love become knowledge and self-knowledge over time. Practiced thoughts gradually become thinking habits and new thinking habits lead to new decisions and behaviors.
Consistent practice can lay the foundation for a self-love mindset in 60 to 90 days. The longer you commit to the practice, the more self-love will become one of your inherent traits. Commitment and consistency are essential if you don’t already have a habit of extending positive self-regard to yourself through your thoughts and behaviors.
Through journaling, using affirmations, and building your conceptual map of what love directed toward yourself looks like, you can internalize the self-love mindset and receive the long list of benefits that come from having positive energy habits.
How do you practice self-love while in a romantic relationship?
Practicing self-love in a relationship is much like when you’re not in one. The difference is that when you’re in a romantic relationship, you also make and hold space for your partner’s needs, wants, and values.
Relationships require time, energy, attention, and internal resources to build, grow, and sustain. So when you’re in a relationship, some of your time, energy, attention, and internal resources must also be directed to your partner and the relationship. In healthy relationships, this is a very rewarding choice because your partner is also making and holding that space for your needs, wants, and values.
Close relationships can also require you to be more flexible about when you prioritize your needs and wants and when you prioritize your partner’s needs and wants. If you’re practicing self-love, that can be easier to accomplish because you have an established sense of your needs and wants and the habit of expressing those needs and wants verbally.
In healthy relationships, there is an ebb and flow of what gets priority in the relationship bubble — you dynamically balance between love of self and love of others and make choices and decisions based on both for the well-being of yourself, your partner, and the relationship.
While both people in the relationship need to have self-awareness and self-care habits, relationships are also about coming together and developing healthy interdependence, giving to each other, contributing to one another’s well-being, growth, and more. Healthy closeness and intimacy also mean that you are creating a safe, secure, and soothing environment for both individuals as much of the time as possible, and that can be an even more nourishing environment in which to practice self-love.
Self-love plays a significant role in that healthy shared relationship environment that you create. It will also be reinforced in healthy relationships — a rewarding loop of love, loving, and being loved.
12 Journal Prompts for Self-love
You can use the following self-love prompts for your self-love journaling practice. The more consistently you use prompts like these, the more you can habituate regarding yourself through these types of mental filters.
Five loving thoughts about myself today:
Three things I appreciate about myself this week:
Where do I need to set healthy boundaries?
Where can I be more flexible today?
What am I proud of this week?
How did I express my self-respect this week?
I matter to myself because...
Which of my strengths did I express this week?
Which of my good qualities did I express today?
How am I prioritizing my health and well-being this week?
What challenging experience can I love myself through right now?
How am I already strong and resilient?
If practicing self-love while in a relationship, you can use prompts like the questions below to look at your loving behaviors toward your partner and keep a healthy dynamic balance between “love of self” and “love of other”:
How am I loving, kind, compassionate, and understanding with my partner?
How am I aware of my partner’s strengths and good qualities?
Do I see my partner’s inherent lovability alongside my own?
In summary, self-love is about developing and sustaining a healthy, positive relationship with yourself. That basis of healthy self-relating can promote well-being in all areas of your life.
Kidest OM is a manifestation author and teacher with indispensable books and online courses designed to help you attract and manifest what you want. Her books include "Anything You Want" and "Nothing in the Way: Clearing the Paths to Success & Fulfilment" which are available globally in eBook, print, and audiobook on her website and through online book retailers.