The other day I wrote a post about why the second greatest commandment presupposes we love ourselves, in addition to loving others. I have been pondering tangible ways to take this from the theoretical to the practical, and thus have compiled 10 suggestions as to how we can better love ourselves, so that we can in turn, better love others:
10. Stop telling yourself that self-love or self-care is selfish.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish! In fact, failing to take care of yourself and allowing yourself to get to the point where you fall apart could actually harm a lot of people (who then have to drop everything to take care of you, because you didn’t do it when you had the chance). When you properly care for yourself, so that you have an excess in order to share and care for others, it’s actually the opposite of selfish.
Sure, if you’re life is self-centered and you think it’s all about you, it’s selfish. But if you’re trying to properly care for yourself so that you can give more freely and serve others with longevity? It’s not selfish, but wise.
9. Stop with the excuse that there’s no time to take care of you.
Life is busy and it makes it hard to juggle everything. I get it. Really, I do. I think a lot of us have more on our plate than we’ll ever finish or finish well, so that means we have to prioritize where our efforts and energy will go. Some things will get done, and some things won’t. When you make that priority list, put self-care on the list that gets done no matter what.
Treat self-care like a bill you can’t afford to not pay.
8. Work to bring balance to your life.
God created everything in the universe to have balance and rhythm. When the balance and rhythm of our lives becomes disrupted, everything else suffers. One of the ways we can better care for ourselves is to find those areas where we are over-spending time and energy, and to redirect some of that time and energy to other areas of life that we’ve neglected. When we restore balance to life, a natural harmony follows- because that’s how the universe works.
7. Learn that it’s okay to say no when you need to say no.
Some of the most miserable and burned out people I know are the people who really struggle to use the word “no” when they just can’t afford to say “yes.” Remember: saying “yes” so often that you go down in a ball of flames isn’t exactly noble or kind to the people in your life who need you. Those people need you to say “no” when appropriate, because when you crash and burn they suffer for it.
Figure out how much is reasonable for you to say yes to. Once you reach your quota, realize that saying “no” to the rest is actually the good and right thing to do.
6. Learn to draw boundaries in your relationships.
One of the big life-killers is when we refuse to draw healthy boundaries in relationships, and just take whatever is dumped on us as if we’re some ginormous hero for being a doormat. These boundary-less relationships chip away at us, and drain us until there’s nothing left. For some strange reason, even though it burns us out, we convince ourselves we’re doing the right thing.
But it’s not. The right thing is to draw healthy boundaries with certain relationships so that we don’t get so chipped away or so dumped on that there’s nothing left for the people who need us most.
5. Stop judging yourself for choices you now regret.
I believe a little bit of healthy regret can be good for us— it reminds us not to travel a certain road twice. But you’ve gotta let it go and stop judging yourself for having traveled it in the first place.
In 1 Corinthians Paul says that he doesn’t care if others judge him, because he doesn’t even judge himself! (4:3). Yes, let us learn lessons from our previous choices, but we are in no position to judge ourselves and beat ourselves up for it. We’ve gotta let go and press forward.
4. Don’t be afraid to self-advocate for what you need.
I think a lot of our needs in life go unmet, not because they cannot be met, but because we feel like it’s wrong or selfish to advocate for ourselves. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth– if we’d advocate for our neighbor, advocate for others, then we also need to be able to advocate for ourselves.
3. Change negative self-talk into positive affirmations.
This is the biggest one I’ve had to work on personally over the years. I’ve received my share of hate-mail, but none compares to the negative dialogue I am constantly fighting in my own mind.
When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, try to stop in your tracks and remind yourself it’s highly likely that those thoughts are either (a) a total lie, or (b) a gross distortion and exaggeration of reality. Instead of constantly reminding yourself of what you’re not, remind yourself of what you are.
2. Choose to believe the positive things other people say about you.
For many of us, others are far kinder to ourselves that we are. And when we’re engaged in a never ending internal dialogue of negative self-talk, it makes it really hard to believe the kind things others say about us. I’m working on this, and I hope you will too.
Loving ourselves better means learning to receive and believe it when others act as a mirror, and show us a person who is more beautiful than what see when we look in that mirror ourselves.
1. Daily remind yourself that you have infinite worth and value to God.
I am a Christian. This means that I believe our worth and our value is rooted in the one thing that will never change: God.
Loving ourselves better must begin with, and be deeply rooted in, an understanding that our worth and value flows directly from the one who created us. This means that nothing in this life– no mistake, no error, no perceived blemish or deficiency– can lessen our value to the one who matters most.
Remember: if God sees you as one who has infinite worth and value, if God sees you as a creation to behold and celebrate, who are you to disagree with the one who made you and knows you best?
I believe that many of us need to learn to love ourselves better– because it’s through a proper self-care and self-love that we become the people who have enough gas in the tank, and money in the bank, to spend it all blessing others.
Just as it’s hard to financially bless someone if you have not exercised financial stewardship, it’s really hard to pour ourselves out and love with actions, if we have not first learned to love ourselves the way God loves us.
I don’t know about you, but I want to love others better– so I’m going to work on trying to love myself better.
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