"Love yourself." There's about a million and one quotes about it on Pinterest and, heck, Justin Bieber even wrote a whole song about it.
Apparently, if you want even the slightest shot at falling in love and leading a happy life, loving yourself is step one.
We hear it all the time, but how do we actually do it? Nobody ever goes into detail about how to fall in love with yourself.
Well, lucky for you, I'll throw you a bone.
Sure, I'm not a therapist or a psychiatrist or anything like that, but I do love myself. And, as someone who loves herself, I'm here to report that people don't write songs and make up quotes about it for nothing. It really does make life, like, WAY better.
So let me tell you how I managed to fall in love (and stay in love) with myself. And hopefully it'll work for you too.
(WARNING: This will be corny. But sometimes, a little corny is not such a bad thing. Sometimes, it's exactly what you need.)
Actively work on getting to know who you are.
You really can't love yourself if you have no idea who "yourself" is. (I already warned you this article was going to be corny, so BACK OFF.)
Obviously, knowing exactly who you are isn't easy, but it's something you can work on. Pay attention to how you react to different situations, take note of the qualities you like about yourself and admit the problems you have that you want to fix.
Whatever you do, don't let other people come up with this definition for you. It might take a little bit longer to figure it out on your own, but you need to have one definition of yourself that's dictated by you and only you.
One that no one else can take away from you.
Value who you are beyond what you look like.
Your definition of who you are should have literally NOTHING to do with how you look .
Think about it this way: Do you want a guy who loves you just because you have a pretty face and a nice ass? No, you probably want him to love you because he likes you as a person.
If you stopped doing squats for a couple weeks and got a gigantic zit on your chin, it shouldn't vastly change his image of you.
And it shouldn't vastly change your image of yourself either. Looks are fleeting. Find something else to depend on in terms of what you love about yourself.
Know when to tell your brain to STFU.
Obviously, your brain is a gift: It helped you pass calculus in high school and even helped you realize the guy hitting on you the other night was a total creep that you needed to get away from ASAP.
Yeah, it's a real gem. But there are times when your brain can also be your worst enemy.
Suddenly, it'll go into overdrive trying to convince you that your relationship isn't going to work out, the one patch of cellulite on your right thigh is absolutely disgusting and needs to be hidden from the world or that your friends are trying to exclude you.
That's when you need to tell it to shut up.
Again, I'm not a therapist or a psychiatrist, so all I can give you is my own trick that works for me to make my brain STFU. First, I watch a TV show to immediately shift my focus onto something else.
Then, once I've turned it off, I turn on a meditation app on my phone (Calm is my app of choice, but go for whatever you like) and do the breathing exercises.
Another good tip when you're brain is being a total bitch? GO TO THE GYM.
Working out releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good and happy with yourself. I know that not just because of my high school bio teacher, but because I work out when I'm feeling sad and gross.
And, BOOM, I feel better every time, without fail.
If I'm still feeling a little down on myself, I call my mom for a good old-fashioned confidence boost, which brings me to my next point...
Surround yourself with the right people.
Hey, here's a simple life lesson for ya: Surround yourself with people who make you feel like shit about yourself and, odds are, you're going to feel like shit about yourself.
On the flip side, surround yourself with people who make you feel fantastic about yourself and, OMG GET THIS, you're going to feel fantastic about yourself.
I have to be clear here, though: By "people who make you feel fantastic about yourself" I don't just mean a bunch of people who blow steam up your ass. Of course, they should be people who are able to see your potential for greatness, and who genuinely believe in you and support you through thick and thin.
But that's not it.
They, themselves, should also be fucking awesome people who make you proud to even just know them. Don't surround yourself with losers — they'll just make you feel like a loser, too.
Fill your life with genuine, quality people you genuinely respect — people who make you feel like a good person just by association.
Do things that make people feel good.
When you can, go out of your way to do nice things for people. Making others feel loved will make you feel like someone worth loving.
And how do you do that? Easy. I'm not saying quit your job and do a service trip in Tanzania (although, if you want to do that, more power to you). Even the little things will make a big difference.
Buy food for a homeless person on your walk home, text your mom letting her know you were thinking about her and you appreciate everything she does for you, tell your roommate she's having a good hair day, show up to your boyfriend's rec soccer game and cheer him on, give your sister a break by offering to babysit your nephew and treat him to the BEST DAY EVER... the options are endless.
I know it seems counterintuitive that I'm telling you to go love other people as a means of loving yourself, but trust me on this one. I promise it'll make you feel like a warm fuzzy ball of love.
That being said, I've got to give a disclaimer here: Going out of your way to make people feel good and do nice things for them doesn't mean "Be a people pleaser." You should be doing these nice things simply because you want to, not because you're afraid of their reaction if you don't.
Accept the fact that you're a human being who makes mistakes.
You're only human. You're going to fuck up. EVERYONE DOES.
Sometimes, you'll make a small, itty-bitty, little fuck-up, and sometimes you'll make a huge, colossal, heart-wrenching mistake that makes you question the kind of human being you actually are.
I can't speak for you, but for me, mistakes are probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of really being in love with myself. I never want to hurt anyone, so when I realize I've done something that might've hurt someone — especially someone I'm close to — it really wears me down and makes me feel like a terrible person.
But the fact of the matter is, when that happens, I'm NOT a terrible person. I might have actually done terrible things some of those times, but those don't define me.
You've got to be able to take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, LAUGH AT YOURSELF and move on. Use your mistakes to make you a better person even more worth being madly, deeply and totally in love with.
Have fun by yourself.
Take yourself out on dates. Do a DIY spa day. Take a trip to the nail salon. Go for a nice walk at your favorite park. Blast "Mamma Mia" and dance around your living room naked. (OK, maybe that's just a me thing.)
You get the point here.
Just as you go out of your way to make other people feel good, you should prioritize making time to do things that make you feel good.
Time by yourself is PRIME TIME for falling in love with yourself. Make the most of it!
Use social media wisely.
Social media is very tricky in this whole game of loving yourself.
We've all read a million articles and have had first-hand experiences that prove social media depresses us. And I agree.
If you're constantly posting Snapchat stories in hopes of your unattainable crush viewing them, or you're obsessively stalking everyone else on Facebook to compare their lives to yours, that's a surefire way to hate yourself.
But, there's also a way to use social media to your advantage: Facebook stalk yourself, and yourself only. Use it as nothing more than a fun trip down memory lane.
Post Snapchat stories because YOU think they're hilarious and don't even bother looking through who watched them when you're watching them over and over again purely to LOL at yourself.
This one's pretty easy.
Stop focusing on all the stuff you don't have and start appreciating all of the awesome things and people you are lucky enough to have.
Soon enough, you'll realize just how incredible your life is, and more importantly, how incredible YOU are.
And that, my friend, is how you love yourself.
You're welcome. And you're awesome.