Are you constantly worrying about what others think of you? Do you find yourself being overly critical over things you’ve said or done? Or have you ever felt like you’re simply not good enough the way you are? Don’t get me wrong – it is perfectly normal to feel these emotions from time to time. But if these thoughts are affecting the way you live your life, it may be due to low self-esteem or a lack of self-love. Let’s dive into what causes a lack of self-love and how you can cultivate it in your life.
Firstly, What is Self-Love?
Self-love has taken the world by storm, and I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of practicing “self-love” and “loving yourself.” But what does this mean? How is it possible to “love yourself?”
Self-love may sound abstract and confusing, but it really is quite simple.
Self-love is appreciating and valuing ourselves and taking actions that support our needs and our mental and physical health. It is the regard for our own happiness and well-being and not settling for any less than we deserve. It’s accepting our mistakes and shortcomings and choosing to love ourselves for who we are.
What Causes a Lack of Self-Love?
A lack of self-love isn’t something that some of us are born with, and some of us aren’t. It is something that’s developed over time, consciously or not. While many factors can lead to a lack of self-love, here are a few reasons why your self-love may be lacking.
Comparing Yourself to Others
Have you ever heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy?” Cliché, yes, but it brings a fair point! Nothing positive or healthy comes from comparing yourself to others – in fact, it usually brings feelings of inferiority and FOMO. Neither of which are good!
With social media, it’s almost impossible to scroll past photos of beautiful people vacationing in Santorini without it affecting our self-esteem. The more we compare ourselves to others, online or IRL, the more we feed our lack of self-love.
Practicing self-love in a world obsessed with social media is tough. Close your Instagram app, turn on do not disturb, and check out our article for how to practice self-love in a social media world.
Not Forgiving Yourself
If you’re hung up over a mistake you made years ago, or even months ago, you are robbing yourself of experiencing self-love. You might be stuck in a pattern of thinking about what you could have said or done instead of moving forward.
Due to this negative “what if” cycle, you might even feel self-loathing over your shortcomings. I know it might seem impossible, but the sooner you forgive yourself, the sooner you’ll be able to cultivate self-love.
Relationships That Bring You Down
A bad relationship with a partner, friend, or family member can have a huge impact on how you view yourself. For example, if your ex constantly belittled you for your appearance or behavior, it’s only natural for it to take a toll on you.
If your parents expressed disappointment when you didn’t meet their standards, that can cause self-doubt and lower your confidence. If you hear repeated criticism from the people in your life, you may start to believe it, inevitably taking a tole on your self-love.
You Set Impossibly High Standards
A perfectionist is someone who sets impossibly high standards for themselves. This can be relating to anything from professional goals, exercise, what they eat, or body image.
Often, when a person doesn’t meet these standards they feel a sense of shame, guilt, low self-worth and a lack of self-love. While it’s normal to have personal expectations, try to remember that no one’s perfect. It’s important to be kind to yourself, and show yourself compassion and understanding even if you feel you didn’t meet your expectations.
How Do You Truly Cultivate Self-Love?
Cultivating self-love isn’t an overnight thing, and it isn’t as simple as saying “I love you” in the mirror, either. It may take you weeks or even months to go from a lack of self-love to loving yourself.
The good news is, there’s no better time than now to start your self-love journey. All you need to get started is you and a little commitment! Let’s dive into the ways you can begin to cultivate self-love.
Silence the Inner Critic
You know that little voice in the back of your mind that loves to point out all your flaws and dwell on your mistakes? That voice is your inner critic, and it loves to hold you back from living your best life.
The next time you notice negative, discouraging thoughts pop up, acknowledge them. Try to replace those thoughts with something positive. Each time you notice your inner critic doing its thing, make a habit to challenge it with uplifting, feel-good thoughts.
Self-love is all about taking actions that support our needs, and what better way to do that than self-care?
Had a hard day at work? Turn off your phone outside work hours and run a hot bubble bath.
Feeling overwhelmed? Roll out your yoga mat or turn on some guided meditation and take a deep breath.
Is something getting you down? Note down what you’re feeling in a journal and take the time to unpack these emotions.
Whatever it is, make sure you always make time to tend to your needs before you tend to others.
Do What You Love
When’s the last time you did something for no other reason than pure enjoyment? If it’s been a while, this is your sign to do more of what you love. There’s no better act of self-love than doing something just for you!
So whatever your thing is – singing, cooking, hiking – do more of that. It’s easy for life to get in the way and forget to prioritize your happiness. But if you want an easy way to practice self-love, this is how. If you need extra convincing on why you should cultivate self-love, this article will help.
A lack of self-love is something that’s developed over time, so it’s only natural for self-love to take its time too. Be patient and stick with it. You’ve got this! For more on self-love and self-care, join our newsletter below.