"Love yourself" is a canned phrase we say to a co-worker who's telling us about her breakup.
It's a string of words we scream to ourselves in our aunt's bathroom mirror while preparing for holiday conversations about why we're single.
It's ranked #1 in “Things To Do In Your 20s Besides Reading Articles About Being In Your 20s.”
It's a universal slice of advice, but what does it mean and how do we do it?
This phrase finally resonated with me when I saw it with a few words attached to the end: Love yourself as much as you love your best friend.
Your best friend, your ride or die.
You're thrilled to see her happy and heartbroken to see her cry. You stand up for her and you want what's best for her.
Use that as a guide for how to treat yourself:
1. Don't let your insecurities win.
When something happens to us that taps into an insecurity, we use it as fuel to the fire.
We point to an action of someone else and tie it onto our own fears. We say something like, "See, I am boring and overweight. That's why he didn't ask me on a second date."
But when something happens to our best friend and it taps into one of her insecurities, we dismiss it.
We say, “You're kidding! How could you possibly think you're not pretty, fun or smart? You're all of those things and more.”
We have a pep talk prepared when it's our best friend's situation, but when it's our own, we choose instead to parade around and shout.
You would scold your best friend for letting self-doubt overpower her, so try to use the same tough love on yourself.
2. Surround yourself with people who respect you.
There is nothing more difficult than watching someone you love settle for less than she should in a relationship.
It hurts to watch a friend get dropped, dismissed, pulled back and used.
It's so easy for us to sit on the outside and blow our whistle and wave our arms and say, “Hello! He doesn't care about you! Run for the hills. Drop him like a mic. Bury this relationship in the graveyard of boyfriends past.”
Because she's awesome and should have only the best, right?
But when we're treated poorly, we justify it. We assume we deserve what we're given. We forgive him before he apologizes. We carry the blame when he accepts none.
If you could not support a relationship from the outside, do not allow yourself to be a pillar to it from the inside.
3. Forgive yourself.
Taking the blame for something we've done wrong helps us become accountable to fix it, but accepting blame also opens the door for us to be very hard on ourselves.
After all, to admit defeat is to accept failure.
We let ourselves sink low and we reassess our abilities. We project an isolated event to our day-to-day lives and we view ourselves as less.
When our best friend fails, we see it as a hiccup. Allow yourself to step back and remind yourself that your other wonderful qualities still remain intact, despite your blunder.
To love yourself is not to simply like yourself. You can like that you are artistic, spontaneous and fashionable, but your hobbies and quirks will not remind you of your worth when you're down.
To love yourself is not to become arrogant and feel superior. Your pride will not propel you into a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship.
To love yourself is to treat yourself with consideration and kindness, to respect yourself by pursuing what makes you happy and dropping who or what does not, to remind yourself that you will falter, but it should not break you.
Your awesome best friend is your best friend for a reason: because you are good enough to deserve her. You are funny enough to make her laugh, smart enough to challenge her and kind enough to remain in her life.
Believe the words of encouragement she has for you and follow the advice you would give her: Love yourself.