What it Really Means to Love Yourself

The concept of self-love doesn't need to be an enigmatic antidote doled out by a well-meaning friend or relative after having a heart-to-heart. Yes, people may prescribe the idea of self-love as a remedy for what ails you. However, when you're not sure what it is, how to achieve it, or how to incorporate it into your life, then it’s essentially nothing more than a worthless term.

Fortunately, we have first-hand experience when it comes to helping people, both single and in relationships, when it comes to identifying, cultivating, and growing their self-love in ways they never thought possible.

Your knee-jerk reaction may be to think something defensive like, Of course I take care of myself. I go to work, pay my bills, and lead a relatively drama-free life. But, by following this mantra alone, you are missing out on all the benefits of loving yourself to the fullest. That’s because self-love goes far deeper than meeting just the basics.

How self-love affects your life

It has the power to affect all aspects of your life, and is essential to living well. From the type of job you choose, to the romantic partners you pick, and even the meal you decide to eat for lunch, self-love can lift you up or drag you down based on the quality of the choices you make every single day.

It’s not something you gain through instant gratification, whether that’s in the form of a shopping spree, the latest self-help book, or jumping head-first into a whirlwind romance. Instead, self-love is the appreciation of the personal growth you achieve from taking care of your needs—psychologically, physically, and spiritually.

self-love is the appreciation of the personal growth you achieve from taking care of your needs—psychologically, physically, and spiritually.

In other words, self-love is:

  • The act of meeting your needs on a deeper level, as opposed to superficially
  • It involves being mindful by listening to your inner-self about what’s best for you in the moment and in the long run
  • It directly correlates with something we’ve all heard about before: self-esteem
  • By improving your self-esteem and self-worth, you’ll want to make better decisions for yourself, thereby creating a cycle of positivity and happiness controlled entirely by you.
woman stadning in field with outstretched arms reaching for for a sunset sky
stones for hot stone message piled in an orderly fashion

To give you an even better idea of what self-love is and how it works, let’s take a look at some real life applications. Although these won’t cover all aspects of self-love, they will provide relatable scenarios.

Put yourself first, even if you feel like you might let others down

Whether that means saying “no” to favors being asked of you, turning down alcohol at a party because you’re not in the mood to drink, or leaving a get together early because you’re tired and need to rest, all of these instances require listening to what you really need. This is in opposition to the instant, and often short-lived, gratification these situations may bring.

Take care of your body from the inside-out

This doesn’t mean you have to conform to strict diets, dramatically alter your looks, or feed into superficiality. What it does mean, however, is that you should be conscious of the food you eat, stay active, and care for your exterior self. You can accomplish this by remembering to moisturize your skin, incorporating different exercise activities into your routine, and trying out some interesting new recipes at home

Make time to have fun and enjoy yourself

Cross something off your bucket list, spend time doing something leisurely without beating yourself up afterwards, or sign up for the art lessons, dance group, cooking class, etc. you’ve been wanting to try. If it’s not self-destructive, doesn’t harm others, and will help you grow positively as a person, put yourself out there and have a little fun!

Stop the external comparisons

There is always someone smarter, faster, younger, prettier, wealthier, and so forth, which is why you should immediately stop comparing yourself to others. The best way to track progress and identify what needs improvement is by comparing yourself to yourself.

Enjoy being alone and doing absolutely nothing

When is the last time you tuned out from social media and sat contently with yourself? Chances are it’s been a while. These quiet moments allow for introspection, soul-searching, and personal growth, all of which are needed to improve self-love and self-esteem.

Nix the self-destructive behaviors

If you drink too much every time you go out, stay up too late, binge on junk food, or choose the wrong mates, it’s time to reevaluate the way you’re living. With discipline and strong will, some of these can be reversed by replacing a bad habit with a good one, while others may require professional help, and that’s ok. In fact, if certain destructive behaviors are preventing you from achieving self-love, then we highly recommend reaching out to a professional.

Self Love exercise

Another important self-love exercise is masturbation. Not only is it a great way to relieve stress, but it also helps you learn what you like sexually and how to please yourself independently.

Setting aside a few minutes each day to pleasure yourself will provide lots of long-term benefits for both you and your partner.

Men can use the tried and true hand stroking technique with a little lubricant, or choose to incorporate some great toys. A cock ring or fleshlight are both great for first-timers. For more advanced masturbation tools, opt for a vibrator that will give you a mind-blowing prostate massage.

Women can use their fingers inserted vaginally to stimulate the G-Spot, or to touch the erogenous zones on the outside of the vagina, like the clitoris and labia. When it comes to toys, women have lots of great options. Hand-held vibrators and smaller dildos are great for newbies. For more advanced masturbation accessories, try anal beads, multi-function vibrators, Ben Wa balls, and larger dildos.

Both men and women can benefit from varying pressure and speed, as well as changing up the position and location. Guys, try standing up to masturbate, rather than sitting or lying down. Ladies, try masturbating on all fours or in the shower. And if you're in a relationship, try masturbating together---it's a great bonding experience!

As you can see, there are many ways to practice self-love in everyday situations, including these additional suggestions from our Self Love Mirror that provide lots of ways to flex your self-love muscles. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that meaningful growth takes time. Don't be hard on yourself, keep your expectations realistic, reward your progress, and continue to move forward.

Young woman in jeans sits on the bach watching the waves roll in

Being Happy in Yourself and Why It’s Important

Knowing who you are is intertwined with self-love and healthy self-esteem. And when you’re able to accept yourself for the good, the bad, and the ugly, you can begin to understand what being happy in yourself is like. In addition to making better decisions, experiencing less inner-turmoil, and having better self-control, this holds especially true when it comes to finding love and having healthy, long-lasting, and mutually enriching romantic partnerships.

But before you can find “the one,” or become the catalyst to improve your current relationship, you must be happy in yourself first.

So, how exactly do you “know who you are,” and how do you become “happy with yourself”?

silhouette of woman in hat
man doing yoga at beach

Understanding your personality is a vital tool of self-knowledge and is the direct route to becoming happy with yourself. If you're not sure where to begin, personality tests such as ours are a great jumping off point, as is uncovering what makes you tick by answering the following questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • What is your mission in life?
  • What are your personal morals and values?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your hobbies, passions, and interests?
  • What are some of your most meaningful memories?
  • What is your temperament like? Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
  • What is your preferred method of physical and/or intellectual stimulation?

By being honest with yourself and answering these questions truthfully, your levels of self-knowledge and self-awareness will begin to soar. Don't know an answer? Then spend time finding out what it is! The beauty of self-love and self-knowledge is that it's never a wasted effort.

young couple drawing hearts

How Self-Esteem Affects Your Relationships

We’ll help you identify the symptoms of having low self-esteem and how it directly affects, or in many cases sabotages, your relationships, plus some tips on how to increase it. Much like self-love, improving your self-worth takes time and patience, but the benefits are immeasurable.

self-worth takes time and patience, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Intimacy is missing

If you find it difficult to be open and vulnerable with your partner, then your confidence may need a boost. Relationships won't be able to push past the superficial level if you're constantly guarded and afraid of revealing your authentic self. This usually occurs because you don't believe that the person you're with is capable of loving the real you.

Settling for less than you deserve

If you find yourself jumping into a relationship with the first person who comes along, expresses interest, or shows you extra attention, then you may be struggling with low self-esteem. Rather than take the time to get to know someone, you quickly couple up, potentially resulting in an abusive and/or codependent relationship.

Jealousy rears its head

In addition to crippling jealousy, low self-esteem can cause you to be needy, clingy, and possessive. Worries about cheating, not feeling good enough, or thinking your significant other might leave you for someone else are potential results of this thinking. This may push you to do something drastic, like cheat before your partner can, or push your lover away because of constant accusations.

In need of constant reassurance

If you find yourself badgering your partner about whether or not he or she still loves you, finds you attractive (even when they compliment you often), and/or wants to be in a relationship with you, then your insecurities may be getting the best of you. Individuals who are in constant need of reassurance often have difficulty feeling secure in themselves and in their relationship, and is often traced back to low self-esteem.

Ulterior motives and wrong reasons

If you find yourself getting involved with people for motives other than love, like financial security, good looks, status, or because you're afraid of being alone, it's important to understand that none of these are actual reasons to cling to a relationship. Without true reciprocal feelings of love and care, partnerships like these will never bring either party the fulfillment they deserve.

silhouette of couple breaking up
angry man and women standing back to back

Improve your self-confidence

Now, let's talk about how to improve your self-confidence. Along with love and trust, this is a cornerstone of a good relationship, which means it's never too early to take steps in the right direction.

  • Positive self-talk is so important. Start everyday with helpful affirmations, because before long, you'll start believing it.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. This can't be stressed this enough. Your partner is with you because you're great. If you need to make improvements, physical or mental, then compare your progress to where you began, and nowhere else.
  • Take pride in your accomplishments and stop dwelling on mistakes. Remind yourself of how far you've come as often as it takes to feel good about how much you've gained.
  • Let go of perfectionism. This goes for yourself, as well as the person you choose to be in a relationship with. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and your partner will only set you up for disappointment.

When you're happy on the inside, it radiates on the outside, subsequently attracting the type of partner you need in your life, as opposed to the toxic kind you don't. The same also goes for couples.

Playing off of your lover’s energy is normal, and in a healthy relationship, when you're happy, they're likely to be happy, too. With a little self-love, contentment, and a boost to your self-esteem, you'll have all the tools you need to be the best you that you can be.

couple in love making heart