How to Love Yourself

How to love yourself

I looked up at the ceiling and told myself that love doesn’t exist. I was thirteen years old. I questioned how to love yourself in the face of shame and heartbreak.

Life without love seems bleak and gray… kind of like the skies in Portland on a winter’s afternoon. There isn’t much hope or optimism.

In the absence of love, it’s easy to resent yourself and others.

How does one revert this behavior?

Here are a few ideas on how to love yourself:

1) Compassion

Remind yourself that you’re a human being and everyone is flawed and self-patronizing. When you treat yourself with compassion, your beliefs in love begin to take form again.

You were born with love, it’s just a matter of returning to love. Begin with compassion toward yourself.

Compassionate activities to discover how to love yourself: Eat ice cream, pat yourself on the back, smile at yourself in the mirror. Acknowledge you’re trying and that’s all you need to do.

2) Resiliency

Love seems to dwindle in the face of heartache. I felt this during my parent’s divorce and after breaking up with my first boyfriend. When you focus on the heartache, it’s like putting kindle in the fire of depression. The fire only gets bigger and bigger.

You were born to surpass the burdens of broken love. Love requires dedication and persistence. You need to stay in the battle if you wish to believe in its power.

Resilient activities to discover how to love yourself: Practice meditation, write a love letter to yourself in a journal, seek guidance from a counselor, friend or therapist. Be brave and courageous during these times. Remind yourself you’re much stronger than you think. If you’ve been through fire before, know that you can get through it again.

3) Kindness

In the absence of love, there’s only hate, bitterness and resentment. Humans want to receive kindness in all forms. This is what makes us feel good and holy. Kindness is felt from the inside out and produces positive hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.

Find the kindness within yourself and generate positive emotions in any way that you can. When you’ve discovered an ounce of joy, share it with other people, especially your friends and family. Your friends and family will benefit tremendously from your kindness.

Kindness activities to discover how to love yourself: Bake a cake for your colleagues at work, remind yourself who you’re grateful for and send them a love letter, say “hello” to a stranger and offer them a smile, give a close family member a big hug (you never know if it’ll be your last time together – a friend of my sister’s lost her 18-year-old brother and she never knew this would happen).

Compassion, resiliency, and kindness are several ingredients in the recipe of how to love yourself.

So often we think we have to receive love in order to feel loved, but you can generate love even if it doesn’t exist. That’s how you learn how to love yourself even when it seems like a distant mountain in a landscape.

Above all, keep breathing and living in the present moment. When one practices presence, all one can feel is love for the what she may have right now. Be here, now.