Love Yourself

Loving others is easy, but loving yourself can be one of the hardest things in this world. If you are struggling to love yourself, read this article for some advice.

10 Second Summary

1. Think positively and avoid perfectionism. Don't call yourself names or assume the worst.
2. List your positive attributes and reflect on them daily.
3. Repeat positive affirmations daily and do things you enjoy.
4. Try practicing loving-kindness meditation.
5. Consider visiting a therapist if you are still struggling.


Improving Your Inner Voice

  1. Overcome negative beliefs about yourself. Many people have trouble letting go of negative thoughts that they have about themselves. These negative thoughts often come from outside people whose opinion we value and from whom we seek love and acceptance.[1]
  2. Avoid perfectionism. Some people have trouble accepting anything less than perfection from themselves. [2] If you find yourself pursuing perfectionism and feeling negatively about yourself when you are less than perfect, take three simple steps. Stop your current line of thinking, then focus on the effort that will be required to work towards a goal, then steadily apply the required effort.[3]
    • Changing your focus from a final product (which may be evaluated in terms of "perfection) to the effort behind a task (which is harder to quantify as "perfect") can help you appreciate your own good work.
  3. Discard your negative filter. Focusing only on the negatives in your life is a bad habit. Excessive focus on negative or less favorable events in your life can make these events seem disproportionately important. [2] If you find yourself complaining that everything that happens to you is bad, try to find a little evidence to the contrary; it is very unlikely that everything is really bad.
  4. Never call yourself names. Calling yourself a name is reducing yourself from a human to a single element of yourself that you do not like.[2]
    • Saying “I am such a failure” after getting fired from a job is inaccurate and unfair to you. Instead, make the useful comment, “I lost my job, but I can use this experience to find and keep a new job.”
    • Saying “I am so stupid” is also likely untrue and reductive. If you feel stupid, it’s more likely that you have a lack of knowledge about something. Instead, think, “I don’t know how to do this basic home maintenance. Perhaps I could take a class and learn to do this in the future.”
  5. Do not assume the worst can happen. It can be easy to fall into the assumption that the very worst outcome will happen with every situation. [2] However, changing your inner thoughts to be realistic or truthful can help you avoid the generalization or exaggeration that accompanies assuming the worst.
  6. Rewrite your internal script. When you realize that you are thinking negatively for yourself, acknowledge the feeling, identify the source of the feeling, and then consciously make a new statement re-writing your thought as a more positive one.[4]
    • For example, if you forgot to send an important work-related email, you may find yourself thinking “I am so stupid! How could I have done that?”
    • Stop yourself, and think “I feel stupid right now because I forgot to send the email. When I would forget to do things as a child, my father would tell me that I was stupid. These are his words, not my own, in my head.” Then think to yourself, “I am a competent employee who made a human mistake, and I will be sure to write myself a reminder in the future. For now, I will send the email along with an apology for not sending it before.”

Exercising Self-Love

  1. List your positive attributes and reflect on them daily. This can be difficult for someone who habitually thinks negatively of themselves, but try to find one positive thing about yourself to add to the list once a week. At the end of each day, reflect on your entire list.[5]
    • Make your list very specific. Instead of using general adjectives to describe yourself, try listing specific actions or attributes that describe who you are and what you do.
    • For example, instead of simply saying "I am generous," you can write "Any time I know that a friend is struggling, I give her a small, thoughtful gift to show that I care. This makes me generous."
    • As you read and reflect on your list, remember that each item on the list, however insignificant it may seem, is a reason that you are worthy of respect and love.
  2. Give yourself the gift of time. Do not feel guilty for spending time thinking about and reflecting on yourself and your own life.[6] It is important to give yourself the time and permission for self-love. You will likely find that by doing so, you are more able to spend quality time helping others.
  3. Celebrate and reward yourself. This is the fun part of self-love: rewarding yourself![7] If you have had a significant accomplishment, celebrate it with a nice dinner at your favorite fancy restaurant. Think of all of the hard work you do every day, and find a reason to reward yourself with something nice. Buy yourself the new book or video game you’ve had your eye on. Take a long shower or bubble bath. Go on a solo fishing trip or get a massage.
  4. Develop a plan for dealing with setbacks or negativity. Notice what tends to throw you off from your current path of self-love, and decide how to deal with those things.[8] Realize that you cannot control the words and actions of others, but you can control your responses and reactions.
    • You may notice that negative comments from one particular person, such as your mom or your boss, set you off into a spiral of negativity. If this happens consistently, try to identify why this is.
    • Decide how you will deal with negative thoughts you do have. You may need to give yourself a time-out to meditate or breathe. Acknowledge your feelings and reframe your negative reaction with positive reminders of your self-worth.
  5. Visit a therapist. Exploring negative thoughts and identifying triggers for your emotions can bring up feelings or memories from your past that are difficult to deal with. [9]
    • A therapist who is experienced with addressing painful pasts can help you navigate through the experience of recovery without causing you to relive painful experiences.[10]
    • A therapist’s office can be a great place to learn to handle your negative thoughts productively and realize your positive qualities.
  6. Repeat positive affirmations daily. Find some positive thoughts that help you feel better, and repeat them daily. This may seem awkward or cheesy at first, but the habit will cause the positive thoughts to sink in, and you will begin to believe them, even if you don’t at first.
    • A good positive affirmation to promote self-love is: “I am a whole, worthy individual, and I respect, trust, and love myself.”
    • If you find that the affirmations are not helping on their own, try visiting a therapist and pursuing a multi-level treatment that includes other approaches as well.[11]
  7. Do things that make you feel good. Think of feeling good physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Do what it takes to feel good in multiple ways; it may require exercise, meditation, dancing and keeping a positivity journal. Find a routine that feels good and stick to it.
    • Spend time alone doing activities you love, or take yourself on a fun outing such as going to the movies or even going out to eat, whether it be pizza or your favorite dessert. Don't forget to take advantage of alone time and use it for pleasure!
  8. Reflect on the effects of practicing self-love. When you spend time loving and rewarding yourself, you will likely see benefits in other areas of your life. Notice whether you have more energy, or if you are able to be more present with others. You might start to feel like you are more in charge of the choices you make, and that you have more control of your life.

Practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation

  1. Understand Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM). LKM is a form of meditation that enhances your feelings of kindness for yourself and others. LKM can give you the tools that you need to become proficient in self-love.[12]
  2. Embrace the principles of LKM. Loving-Kindness Meditation involves loving without the imposition of expectations or conditions. It encourages you to love without judgment (either of yourself or others). [12]
    • Judgments of ourselves or others often causes misery in relationships with others or in our own minds. Learning to love without judgment is learning to love selflessly.
  3. Breathe deeply. Begin with breathing in slowly and deeply. Sit comfortably in a chair and allow your chest to fill completely with air, expanding from your diaphragm. Then exhale slowly and completely. [12]
  4. Support yourself with positive affirmations. As you continue your deep breaths, begin repeating the following affirmations to yourself: [12]
    • May I achieve my dreams and live in happiness and peace.
    • May I love others with my whole heart.
    • I wish for myself and my family to be protected from harm.
    • I wish for a life of heath for myself, my family, and my friends.
    • May I learn to forgive myself and others.
  5. Identify negative responses you have to the positive affirmations. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts while you are repeating these affirmations, think about who is triggering these negative thoughts. Identify people towards whom you have difficulty feeling unconditional love. Repeat your affirmations, thinking about these people. [12]
  6. Think about someone you feel positively towards. Repeat the affirmations, keeping that person in your mind as you repeat them.
  7. Think of someone you feel neutral about. Repeat the affirmations, keeping that person about whom you feel neutral in mind.
  8. Allow the positivity from the affirmations to fill you completely. Repeat the affirmations without thinking of anyone in particular. Focus instead on the positivity of the affirmations. Allow the feelings of positivity to fill you completely, and send that positivity out from yourself to the entire planet. [12]
  9. Repeat a final mantra of love. Once you have extended feelings of positivity everywhere, repeat the following mantra: “May all living humans feel and be joyous, happiness, and healthfulness.” Repeat this affirmation five times as you feel the words resonate in your body and extend out to everything in the universe. [12]

Understanding Self-Love

  1. Know the dangers of a lack of self-love. A lack of self-love can lead you to make harmful choices. A lack of self-love often equates to a lack of self-worth that leads to conscious or unconscious self-sabotage and prevents individuals from advocating for their own basic needs.
    • Lack of self-love can lead to a harmful dependence on others for validation.[13] Relying on others for validation often leads people to set aside their own needs in order to gain others’ approval.
    • Lack of self-love can also prevent emotional healing and progress; one study showed that individuals who engage in self-blame and ignoring themselves had poorer outcomes in psychotherapy.[14]
  2. Recognize the importance of childhood experiences to loving yourself. Parent-child relationships have lifelong effects on character development; children who did not have physical, emotional, and mental needs met may have lasting problems with low self-esteem.[15]
    • Negative messages received in childhood—particularly recurring messages—often stick in an individual’s mind and color their self-perceptions later in life.
    • For example, a child who is told that she is “dull” or “boring” will likely think that she is dull or boring as an adult, even if there is evidence to the contrary (such as having many friends, making people laugh, or living an interesting lifestyle).[16]
  3. Understand how parents can support self-esteem. Parents can follow the following advice to improve their children’s feelings of self-worth:
    • Listen to your children; it increases their self-worth.[17]
      • It can be easy to "tune-out" a child who talks a lot, not really listening to what she is saying. However, if you really listen to her and interact with her by asking her follow-up questions and responding to her words, she will feel that you value what she has to say.
    • Teach children in a non-aggressive way (without hitting, yelling, or shaming) to stabilize their feelings of self-worth.[17]
      • For example, if your child hits another child, you can pull him to the side and calmly tell him that he shouldn't hit other children because it can hurt them. If necessary, you can have him take a short break to breathe and collect himself before returning to play.
    • Offer children warmth, affection, support, and respect without judgment to make children feel worthy of love and acceptance. [17]
      • If your child tells you that he is sad about something that seems silly to you (like the sun going down), do not dismiss his feelings. Acknowledge his feelings by saying "I understand that you are sad that the sun went down. Then do your best to explain why the situation cannot be changed by saying something like, "The sun has to go down every night because the world is turning and the people on the other side of the Earth need to get sunshine too. It also gives us the opportunity to rest and get ready for the next day." Finally, offer a hug or other physical affection to comfort your child and help him feel that you empathize with him, even if you cannot change the situation.
  4. Understand the effects of outside comments on self-love. You will encounter negativity in your life. Self-love cannot be practiced in a bubble, without the influence of outside comments and potential negativity. As such, you must learn to deal with negativity from your partner, your boss, your parents, or even strangers on the street.
    • You can empower yourself to let such negativity roll off of you without allowing it to change your feelings of self-worth.


  • Remind yourself that you are worth loving. Many people tend to get insecure about themselves, when in reality we are all human beings! Always believe in yourself, and be the confident, optimistic you.
  • Avoid things that encourage stereotypical ideas, such as beauty magazines.
  • Be yourself and stop caring about what others think. Be the best version of yourself that you can be.
  • Being yourself isn't bad. We all want to achieve the best person we can be. Just remember that if you're trying to be like someone else, or your method to feeling positive feels fake even after a long time of trying, then it's not YOU that you are loving. Accept yourself, identify the parts of yourself that you haven't yet. Try new things and conquer your fears.You'd be surprised at what you find!

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Sources and Citations

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  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Kearney DJ1, McManus C, Malte CA, Martinez ME, Felleman B, Simpson TL (2014) Loving-kindness meditation and the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Med Care, Dec;52(12 Suppl 5):S32-8
  13. Wiltermuth SS1, Cohen TR2 (2014), “I’d only let you down”: Guilt Proneness and the Avoidance of Harmful Interdependence. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, Nov;107(5):925-42
  14. Ryum T1, Vogel PA, Walderhaug EP, Stiles TC. (2105) The role of self-image as a predictor of psychotherapy outcome. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology Feb;56(1):62-8
  15. Zaleznik, Abraham. Executive’s Guide to Understanding People. Palgrave MacMillian, 2009
  16. Efficacy, Agency, and Self-Esteem. Kernis, Michael H. Springer Science + Business Media, 1995
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Handbook of Positive Psychology. Snyder, CR and SJ Lopez, eds. Oxford UP, 2002.