Self love can be a difficult subject for many people to address, especially because it’s one that society frowned upon for a while. Strengthening your love for yourself was often viewed as vain, and even to this day it’s mistaken as being selfish.
What we sometimes fail to recognize is that you cannot treat others with compassion and kindness if you cannot even extend that same level of respect toward yourself. How can you be expected to make others feel loved if you yourself feel incredibly unloved, or worse, unworthy of love?
By increasing your own self love, you simultaneously strengthen your ability to connect with others. Being honest and vulnerable with yourself can be difficult, but it’s necessary for growing your self love. By feeling our emotions completely and being more compassionate with them, we develop a greater ability to empathize and be vulnerable with others, thus increasing connectivity in our relationships.
So, where do we start on our journeys? Psychologist Dr. Eli Finkel developed helpful “love hacks” to fix your relationship with your partner. However, after reading them, I believe that these love hacks can also be tweaked and used to strengthen not only your romantic relationships, but your relationship to yourself as well. Of course, love isn’t a “one size fits all” subject, but certainly these could help you along your journey!
The first “love hack” involves physical touch. According to Dr. Finkel, simply touching your partner can help to increase connectivity between the two of you, even if it’s just holding hands. This experiment found that couples who were told to touch one another while watching a video felt more confident in their partner and more loved in comparison to those who were instructed not to touch one another.
Physical touch can work in increasing your own self love and feeling of well-being too, regardless of whether or not you have a romantic partner. Even just hugging another human being can make you literally healthier and happier. When you hug someone or even just hug yourself, you release oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone,” which can improve heart health, decrease stress levels, and more.
Don’t Assume the Worst
Even if you’re super optimistic, occasionally our minds jump to the worst possibility. Whenever this happens, recognize that you are jumping to a conclusion that may not be the truth, and that there’s no way of knowing the truth until it’s discovered. So, you might as well not waste your time worrying about your partner, your job, or whatever else you’re stressing over.
Sure, it’s totally natural to weigh the possibilities, but if a story you’ve created in your mind is causing you unnecessary stress, then it’s probably best to just let that go. If you find that you easily assume the worst in situations, there’s a technique I discovered through listening to a Kevin Trudeau podcast called “cancel-cancel.”
Basically, you allow yourself to live in your stress for a few moments and imagine the absolute worst possible scenario. Then, when you’ve completely envisioned it, you yell “cancel-cancel.” You literally communicate to yourself that you want to cancel that thought, and that you will not allow it to become your reality. Even just screaming can be super empowering, let alone telling yourself that you refuse to believe your own pessimism!
Picture Conflict From an “Outside Perspective”
Sometimes, when we’re so wrapped up in our emotions, we come at everything from a state of “victim consciousness.” This is a term used by Michael Bernard Beckwith, and it basically refers to a state of consciousness in which you always think “poor me” or ask “why me?”
When we’re assuming the role of the victim, it becomes difficult to empathize with the individual we’re having a disagreement with. Try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes as best you can, and recognize that sometimes you may not know the full picture. That individual could easily just be projecting their emotions onto you rather than dealing with their emotions themselves.
Instead of matching anger with anger, try meeting it with compassion. Why fight fire with fire when you could literally put it out by using compassion and love? Don’t express anger toward the other person. Instead, ask them why they’re feeling so angry and upset in the first place. Sometimes, when people lash out at us, it’s really a cry for help.
When we take a third party role, it allows us to really see things from a bigger picture. This is helpful in not only romantic relationships, but in all relationships as well, including those that we hold with ourselves.
If I get upset, I’ll often ask myself what the root cause of my anger or sadness is, and then put things into perspective. Do I really need to be wasting my time complaining about the small things, or would I rather live in a healthier and happier state by focusing on the things I love and that truly matter, and not sweating the small stuff?
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To be clear, I am not suggesting you suppress your emotions, as it’s important to feel them out. But “letting go” and taking an objective approach is another way to help you understand your emotions better and truly connect deeper with yourself and your partner.
One of the best ways to improve your relationships is by creating more self awareness in yourself. Take CE’s 5 Days of You Challenge to explore yourSELF deeper.
Make a Gratitude List
I can confidently say that when I started to make a gratitude list, my life drastically changed for the better and my self love strengthened rapidly. By writing down all of the things, people, places, etc. that you’re grateful for, you begin to focus on all of the incredible parts of your life and the beauty within this universe, rather than the darkness.
Of course, duality exists for a reason, and it’s important that you face your hardships head on. It’s equally as important, however, that you recognize how incredibly blessed you are to be alive and living your life. If you have difficulty listing off numerous things you’re grateful for, you can start with the stuff we often perceive as being “small” but are actually so incredibly important, like our breath, fresh water, food, and other necessities.
To apply this to your relationship, Dr. Finkel suggests writing down a list of things your partner has done to truly invest in your relationship. What are you grateful for that your partner has done?
Accept a Compliment
Dr. Finkel suggests recalling a time that your partner complimented you, and take not of how you felt when you received it. What does your partner appreciate about you? Often times, we create these fake stories in our heads of why we’re “unlovable,” so by establishing why your partner loves you and accepting that, it could in turn improve your relationship with your partner and with yourself.
If you’re single like me, you could try either giving yourself a compliment or recalling a time you felt loved and appreciated thanks to a compliment. I’m not necessarily referring to a typical compliment like “you look pretty,” but rather a comment that deeply touched your soul and made you feel loved, whether that be a love you felt for yourself or a love you felt from another.
Try just writing down one thing you love about yourself. It could be anything, but recognize that there are so many reasons that you are incredible, starting with the fact that you’re alive. Did you know that there was only a one in four hundred trillion chance that you’d be here right now with your exact DNA? Now that’s a reason to love yourself: beating the insane odds of your very existence.
Celebrate the Small Victories
Dr. Finkel suggests that whenever your partner shares something with you that he/she is excited about, get excited over it too! Sometimes people are so passive towards their partner’s accomplishments, as well as their own accomplishments. that they forget it’s okay to express excitement. You find five bucks on the floor? Great, let’s celebrate! Your partner had an awesome presentation at work today? Let’s rejoice!
This reminded me a lot of Neil Pasricha’s Book of Awesome, in which he highlights some of the awesome moments in life that so many of us fail to recognize. The person standing in line in front of you bought your coffee? Awesome! A random person came up to you and asked for a high five? Awesome! Your grandfather asked you to play a game of cribbage with him? Awesome!
We let so many of life’s most “awesome” moments pass by us without even recognizing the sheer magic within them. Sometimes it’s the small stuff that really makes life so grand. Celebrate the small stuff, people.
Remember, self love is not a destination; odds are that you won’t just reach a point where you love every single thing about yourself forever. It’s completely natural to cast a bit of doubt upon yourself or question your actions and decisions occasionally, and that can actually be a huge part of your growth process. As you’re learning and growing as a person, your self love is bound to shift and evolve with you as time goes on.
Self love is a journey, one that requires constant attention and care. Don’t just tell yourself you love yourself once; remind yourself of how incredible you are over and over again, even if you don’t believe it. Tell yourself that until you start to believe it, and then continue to remind yourself of that so your self love can grow even stronger.
By having compassion for yourself, you can extend more compassion to others. Study after study has shown that the happiest people are those who not only extend a helping hand to others, but will also take the time to use both of their hands to help themselves.
No matter where you’re at in life, whether you have a partner or you’re single, or if your self love is relatively high or low on the spectrum, I think we could all agree that there’s no such thing as “too much love.” So, let’s work at spreading more love throughout the world, and let’s accept that in order to do so, we need to start with building up our own self love first.
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