Had you asked me just a few years ago if I loved myself, I would have scoffed and turned my nose up at you.
“Of course I love myself. Do I look like a woman who doesn’t love or value myself?”
Well, no. On the outside, I didn’t. I exuded confidence, took good care of my emotional and physical well-being, and had a healthy self-esteem.
The truth was, until I delved deeper into my spiritual practice, I wasn’t even aware of all the ways that I put myself down, didn’t honor my needs or boundaries, and failed to take a stand for myself because somewhere underneath all that forced confidence, I felt “less than.”
When I was doing some deep healing work during my divorce, my best friend often challenged me when I was upset over another incident in my life that I felt was “wrong” or “unfair.” She would put the ownership back on me and say one of these phrases:
“When you really learn to love yourself, you won’t need anyone’s validation anymore.”
“When you truly learn to love yourself for everything you are and everything you aren’t, you won’t be in this kind of pain.”
I would argue with her that I did love myself, dammit! But it wasn’t until I did the more intrinsic work, spent a lot of time alone, and stopped giving my power to someone else or asking for their validation to make me feel okay about just being me that I truly started to love myself.
Sometime in the past year, I saw how far I’d come and all the areas of my life where I had finally learned to step up and meet myself fully.
Now, when I work with clients and I see where they’re struggling, more often than not it’s directly connected to where they aren’t loving and honoring themselves that is creating the pain and suffering in their lives.
These are a few key signs that you are in full-blown loving your beautiful, badass self mode:
*If you’re falling short in any of these areas, I encourage you to see where you can make a few tweaks so you can really show up for yourself in the way that you deserve.
1. You set boundaries. This is the one people struggle with the most. When you’re a “people pleaser” or always afraid of upsetting someone, setting boundaries can be tough—and it can be even tougher to uphold them.
But people who love themselves set clear and unwavering boundaries with others. They let other people know what’s okay and what is not. They set the standard for how they want to be treated and what they’ll accept. Firm boundaries are a sign to others that we honor and respect ourselves.
2. You take time for yourself. The self-sacrificing martyrs out there will argue that taking time for ourselves is selfish, especially if we have children or other people we’re responsible for.
My response to that is “bullsh*t.” As a recovering “I gotta be there for everyone else all the time and there ain’t no time left for me” addict, I can tell you it’s the most unloving thing you can do to yourself.
People who don’t take the time for self-care and are a constant slave to their jobs, their to-do lists, and their responsibilities are some of the most stressed, burned-out, and miserable people I know because they’re running on fumes and have no outlet to refuel and restore what they’re putting out into the world.
People who love themselves make the time, even if it’s 15 minutes a day to meditate, a half hour to work out, or just a weekly Netflix and chill session.
3. You can be alone. There’s nothing in the world that forces you to get to know yourself, enjoy your own company, and become your own best friend more than going through a breakup or divorce after years of having a partner.
For months after I split from my ex, people would say to me, “Don’t worry…someone else will come along one day who will love you. You won’t be alone.” And I remember thinking, “Would that be so bad?“
I watch so many people around me jump from relationship to relationship with no time in between to just be with themselves, and when I ask why they feel the need to rush right into another relationship, all of them tell me, “I just don’t like being alone.”
Listen, I get it. We all crave connection and companionship. That’s part of being human. But being able to be alone with yourself and actually be okay with it—and even enjoy it—that’s a real sign of self-love.
4. You don’t need validation from others. For most of my life, no matter how much I accomplished, it never felt like quite enough unless somebody else was validating me and telling me how great I was.
As most of us tend to do, I kept seeking my worthiness from other people. After the end of a relationship or even a situation where we’ve been rejected by someone, many of us seek validation from other men/women and then use every disappointment that follows as yet another excuse to tell ourselves that we aren’t lovable.
Self-love means we don’t need anyone else’s validation. If they like us, great. If they don’t, who cares? We know and understand it’s not really about us anyway. Everyone’s got their favorite flavor of ice cream, and we may just not be their flavor of choice.
If someone doesn’t approve of what we’re doing or like who we are, who cares? When we love ourselves it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how we feel about ourselves.
5. You don’t beat yourself up for mistakes. People who love themselves don’t beat themselves up. They fail forward. They look at mistakes as opportunities for growth. They don’t dwell or allow other people to make them feel badly about the mistakes they’ve made in the past. They simply pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and say, “Next time, I’ll do better.”
Because they know they can and they know they will.
6. You’re able to say “no” easily. This means that you’re able to be authentic by telling the truth. When you don’t want to do something, you don’t do it unless it’s something you need to show up for. There are certain things we all have to do whether we want to or not (get out of bed in the morning, go to work, show up at our sisters’ wedding…you know what I’m talking about).
What I mean by being able to say “no” is not feeling the need to say “yes” to everyone and everything to get people to like you. It’s not caving into pressure or guilt and agreeing to something that just doesn’t feel good to you.
People who love themselves can say “no” easily and with grace, knowing they are simply honoring their feelings and boundaries.
7. You don’t tear down other people to make yourself feel better. I have found that the people who love themselves rarely (if ever) speak negatively, judge, or tear down another person simply because they don’t have to. By loving themselves, they are in a daily practice of self-compassion, and, therefore, they have compassion for other people too.
If you’re constantly going through someone’s Instagram feed, for example, and talking sh*t about what they post, how they look, and the kind of person you think they are, you may want to bring the focus back to yourself and ask yourself these questions:
>> “Why do I feel the need to tear this person down?”
>> “Where am I feeling insecure/unlovable/not enough in my own life?”
>> “What do I get from picking this person apart and trashing them?”
Self-love isn’t a destination. It is a daily practice. We can all get there if we’re willing to acknowledge the areas where we aren’t being loving toward ourselves, and if we are willing to do things differently.
It might feel uncomfortable at first. But if we power through and refuse to give into old patterns and behaviors, self-love will become the new normal. And that’s a pretty sweet place to be!
Author: Dina Strada
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Leah Sugerman