Loving yourself is your most important work. Spiritual thought leader Louise Hay said it best herself: When you love yourself, everything works.
With self-love, you can grow faster and stronger. Your relationships improve. Health and happiness start to come naturally.
The benefits are massive, but the path is often unclear. So, how do we get there?
The Path to Self-Love Looks Different for Everyone
Learning how to love yourself is an interesting thing. You might assume that it should come naturally, but it often takes deliberate intention.
I personally started to feel like self-love was seeping into my system when I started mirror affirmations.
It felt very strange at first. I would look myself in the eye and say, “I love myself. I approve of myself. I am perfect, whole, and complete.”
(These are my top affirmations for weight loss, by the way! Because self-love once again helps make everything work, including our issues with food.)
Now, why are affirmations such a big deal? Well, from a scientific perspective, affirmations work because they train new thought patterns into your brain.
From a spiritual perspective, affirmations work because what you put your intention on is what you attract into your life.
Benefits of Making Room for Self-Love
Whichever way you want to look at it, the bottom line is the same: focus on self-love and it will manifest.
Here what can happen when you start increasing your self-love, too.
1. Your Personal Growth Happens Faster
Sometimes, in the pursuit of success, we use shame as our primary source of fuel.
For example, we go on a 3-day juice cleanse because we hate the way our body looks. (And we haven’t been taught why diets don’t work yet.)
And we shoot ourselves in the foot by using shame as our motivation because shame makes us grow like sludge.
When we do things to avoid shame, we’re much more likely to burnout. To hit the ground. To fail. And hate ourselves even more when we do.
But when we love ourselves, motivation comes naturally.
Instead of trying to show up everyone, we’re simply just trying to become better versions of ourselves. There’s no competition. No shame. No force. No pressure.
2. You Stop Finding Problems and Instead Find Yourself
One of my favorite quotes is: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
I love it because it’s true. If we don’t love ourselves – if we’re trapped in mental loops of self-hate and self-judgment – then we will continue to find reasons why we are unlovable everywhere.
Not because it’s true, but because our mind’s confirmation bias makes us find proof of our not-enough-ness, even though it doesn’t exist.
The more flawed we believe we are, the more proof and problems we will notice to back this hypothesis up.
Along these same lines, something beautiful happens when we start to love ourselves. Instead of finding proof that all our flaws are real, we start finding proof that our loveability is real.
We start finding reasons why we’re worthy of love and compassion from others, and we start to attract those things to us. Because we notice it.
Because love attracts love.
3. You Stop Feeling Small
Before I stopped binge eating and made peace with food, there used to be days where I just couldn’t help but feel small around amazing, drop-dead gorgeous women. The magnitude of their beauty would aggravate my insecurities.
It wasn’t until I started reciting my self-love affirmations that I could be in the presence of gorgeous women and not feel intimidated; not project judgement onto them; not feel like I’m losing some unspoken competition.
It was the greatest relief ever.
Instead of feeling tense and bothered around people who intimidate me, I started holding space to feel secure in who I am (aka. self-love).
As you learn to love yourself and focus on your wholeness instead of your flaws, you will also notice the wholeness in others.
You won’t get sucked into comparison games because it won’t even occur to you anymore.
4. Your Friendships Will Improve
I once had a friend who I loved dearly, but a few years ago she started driving me a little crazy. I just didn’t enjoy being around her because I would get irritated too often.
I was on the cusp of ending our friendship, and then I started my self-love practice.
And the next time I spent time with her, things were… great. I had a lot of fun. She didn’t do anything to upset me. And that’s when I learned the most important lesson ever:
We only have a problem with others because we have a problem with ourselves. Boundaries become clear when we work on self-love.
Without self-love, it will be impossible to love others as well.
5. Your Romantic Relationships Will Transform
Lack of self-love and emerging self-love: I’ve experienced different dynamics in my intimate relationships because of this.
Back when I did not even know what self-love was, I had a turbulent relationship with a mellow guy. We didn’t fight becuase of him. Instead, I can take responsibility for a lot of it, because I didn’t love myself.
I know that my inability to love myself made me not allow another person to truly love me, either. So I pushed it away (in the form of fighting).
This is what self-sabotage looks like. (It’s just like the self-sabotage around weight loss that I talk about elsewhere on the blog.)
Fortunately, I’ve also experienced the other side of the coin. After I started my mirror affirmations, I watched my intimacy grow in my romantic relationship.
And I am confident that my ability to love myself was connected to this newfound ability to let love in from others.
6. You Will Move from the Passenger Seat to the Driver’s Seat
When you are unaware of your subconscious behavior, you’re living in the passenger seat. You’re a victim to your subconscious beliefs; guided by forces that you aren’t controlling.
When you make the decision to start loving yourself, you make the decision to take the driver’s seat. You make the choice to stare your limiting beliefs in the face and defy them.
This is the difference between a conscious and an unconscious life.
To allow your relationships – the relationships with your friends, your lover, and yourself – dissolve under the strain of self-hate is to live unconsciously.
To show up each moment in love is to consciously create a life you love. To attract things worth loving. To notice things worth noticing.
To live a life worth living.
7. You Solve the Overeating/ Overworking/ Overdrinking/ Oversexing Problem
Self-love work calls us to just show up. It’s really hard to do, and this is where most issues with overabundance come from.
Because when life gets challenging, we reach for a self-help book, a cookie, a lover. We reach for something – anything – to soften the pain.
And when we do this, we leave. We abandon the present moment because the discomfort is too great.
Showing up in this moment – and showing up in love – is the cure.
Facing the pain is how we overcome the pain. Not by softening it, but by facing the very thing that’s causing the hurt.
When you do this, you can handle any obstacle life throws your way.
That is what self-love does. And that is why self-love is your most important work. Period.
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Originally posted on January 1, 2017 // Last updated on December 4, 2020