When I first think of “self-love,” my thoughts drift to a younger version of myself that was insecure and was unable to see her flaws, all because she lived under the guise of self-love. I thought I shouldn’t need to improve and if I did need to improve, I concluded that that wasn’t loving myself at all. I was trapped in a cycle of pretending I loved myself and feeling lost and insecure because of my flaws. I clung onto my faults in the name of self-love and it was tearing me apart. Needless to say, I’ve struggled with this for years.

Self-love is defined (according to a quick Google search) as “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).” Hmmm, that sounds pretty good… but how does one actually build that regard? Not just shout it out and hope it sticks but actually build self-love and self-awareness? Is self-love with a desire to improve even possible? It was through these questions that I found the truth in loving who I was, am, and will be- through a three-step process.

A three-step process

I have learned that the true path (for me) to self-love is reflected in a three-step process that requires some hard looks and of course, a gentle regard for who you are.

1.Get honest about your motives

First and foremost, you have to look honestly at yourself and your motives. In one example, was pushing myself too hard and applying unnecessary pressure about needing to lose weight (mostly because I thought I had to to be appreciated by those around me). I also compared myself to others and wondered why I couldn’t look that good. I was beating myself up. It wasn’t until I lightened up and realized I wanted to change for myself (to be healthier and happier) that I actually made any progress. I also realized that my body is absolutely perfect for me. My body reflects a strong athletic woman… which is exactly what I am! And it was through a gentle look at what worked for me and asking my body what felt right that I was able to overcome my inner critic and naysayer, love myself, and create my own positive change.

2.Humbly assess your flaws

This can’t be a bash fest on yourself, but we all can improve. For instance, I know I am rash, brash, and egotistical person by nature (mostly because of the insecurities mentioned above). This doesn’t mean I am a terrible person, this means I am normal and have some things I need to work on to be the best version of myself. But part of this whole self-love thing is also accepting and loving who you are right now. I love that I am assertive and opinionated but I could still be that way without ramrodding those around me. It comes down to humbly and honestly assessing your flaws, loving yourself for who you are at this moment, but also seeing there is room (and making that room) to improve.

3.Establish an openness to try and willingness to fail

Changing our internal dialogue is incredibly difficult. But making room for an open mind to try something different, and creating a willingness to fail is a huge step in changing your life and loving yourself. We don’t have to be perfect- we only have to try to be our best selves. That means trying new things, forgiving yourself if you don’t succeed, and accepting the entire journey (your past, your current, and your future self).

Have you found self-love? What were your truths on the subject? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Until next time, remember you are capable of having happiness abound.

Photo by Alisa Anton