How To Love Yourself Unconditionally, Even When It Feels Impossible
While not a new concept, self-love is a major buzz phrase these days.
Everywhere you turn or click, you've got people telling you to love yourself just as you are, and to be the best "you" you can be.
That's great and all, but the idea of loving yourself unconditionally seems to be, often enough, kind of elusive.
On certain days, in fact, it seems damn near impossible.
When I'm feeling depressed, or irritable, or just downright hopeless as to the state of the world, self-love really doesn't pop up as a priority on my to-do list.
And yet, I kind of have to make it a priority, even when I don't want to.
While I used to deal with the struggle that is life in some less-than-stellar ways (by getting like, psychotically wasted, or disappearing down a depression K-hole and not leaving my room for awhile), I've since realized those old methods don't really work too well.
To be sure I'm treating myself well in my recovery, I regularly go to therapy, and overall, I put a lot of hard work into maintaining my self-care.
Still, there are certainly days where loving myself doesn't necessarily come that naturally or that easily.
If you've endured that struggle too, here are a few ways you can learn to treat yourself with the unconditional love you deserve.
1. Talk To Yourself Like A Friend
God knows I've spent more hours than I would like to admit tearing myself to verbal shreds inside my head, whether it be about the way my body looks, or even something awkward I once said, like, 10 years ago.
Elite Daily spoke with holistic life coach and therapist Caitlin Margaret, who stresses the importance of talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend:
Your friends would point out your successes and positively reinforce you. If a friend comes to me [feeling] down on herself for falling short of an intended goal, I would tell her mistakes are human, and that people fall off the wagon.
A friend would never shame or punish you, or call you a loser -- at least, not a good friend.
2. Collect All The Good Stuff
Morgan tells Elite Daily a key to consistently practicing self-love is to establish "a storehouse of positivity."
Have a place you can go, be it a box or a document on your computer, where you collect positive symbols of things you have done in your life that you're proud of. I have a list of emails where people have sent me nice [messages] that I copy and paste into an online notebook. It can also be something like a picture of someone being happy with you.
For me, I have some poems I've written that I feel good about in a folder, lots of pictures with family, sweet cards from loved ones, and even piles of books in my room that I'm proud to have taken the time to read.
3. Do Something You're Good At, And Do It Often
It seems like a novel concept, but it's a really rewarding idea.
We often focus on goals and challenging ourselves to achieve something we haven't yet. Sometimes challenging yourself feels exhausting, and we're inundated with not being there yet. Have a balance of doing things in your life that you're really good at. It doesn't have to be something huge. If you're a good cook, cook. If you have a good sense of humor, write a funny post on Facebook.
4. Consider An Attitude Of Gratitude
Believe me, I am not kidding at all when I say there have been multiple times when people tell me to be grateful, or to count my blessings, and my reaction involves a strong desire to tackle them to the ground.
Seriously, I struggle so much with this concept that I've actually written “gratitude lists” where the only thing on there is iced coffee (#priorities).
But the list has a tendency to get longer the more I make a point to really think about it.
Plus, focusing on things you're grateful for is actually good for your health.
5. Surround Yourself With People Who Love You For You
Morgan points out that studies show the best indicator of our happiness is the quality of our relationships:
It's the highest variable of correlation with feeling happy and loved. We live in a world where we're often bombarded by criticism, spoken or unspoken. We need to consistently be talking to people who challenge that narrative and show us love.
So make sure you are making plenty of time for people you love unconditionally, and who love you unconditionally, too.
You just might start to believe they have good reason for it.