Some things are simply out of your control, but what is within grasp is how you perceive your position within reality. (Are you an observer or player number one?) A practical first step in loving yourself is acknowledging reality; admitting that you can only accomplish what you focus on.
And the spotlight of focus number one is shining directed on you. The love needs to be focused, right now at this moment, on you because you need to be diligent about staying present whilst on your journey, that’s where the deep work takes place. Going on a self-love journey could mean many things like practicing self-care daily. And each true act of self-care we do idealistically brings us closer to radical self-acceptance.
Radical acceptance of oneself means you free yourself from the past and present and acknowledge where you are at the moment. You are neither in the wrong nor in the right. This Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT behavioral therapy trick releases you from the shame of 'what if' or 'what could’ve been' and protects you from mental self-harm. Rehashing a situation you feel went poorly will keep you in a destructive mindset, full of self-pity, guilt, or rage. Accept that the past is the past and you love yourself no-less for the mistakes you (or others) have felt you made.
Meditation. Life can become difficult for everyone at one point or another. The ones who stand back up do so because they took care of their mental health and found their composure. How you keep yourself together (composure) will help you stay mentally well. Staying present is a great way to show yourself love and care.
Get rid of all conversations today that with, “Why did I do that?” Meditation directly addresses stress, centering you again and again on your breath and not negative self-talk.
Seek joy. Place yourself in situations that will help you relax. Part of putting yourself first is setting boundaries with toxic people and situations. Similar boundaries can be made with yourself. Practicing meditation should help you control negative self-talk. Whenever you feel yourself spiraling to a place of self-loathing, close your eyes and breathe deeply, focus only on your breath. When you open your eyes try saying aloud something like what you are grateful for or saying something as simple as, “I choose joy today.”
Spend time with yourself. Have you ever met someone who looked so happy, but when you think about it, you’ve never seen them not surrounded by friends and strangers? Social interactions, busy lives, career goals; there’s so much in front of our noses that we forget to check in with ourselves. Take yourself out (alone) on a date. Note what you do throughout the day. What moments made you curious, what made you happy, what surprised you? Who are you when you aren’t trying to please anyone else?
Read. Go to your local bookstore, you can ask them to direct you to the memoir and autobiography section. Somewhere in that section will be someone’s story that might speak to your background and situation.
“Telling your story is an important skill; listening to other’s stories is a lifelong process of understanding yourself and others. Perhaps especially at this turbulent time, sharing our stories helps us process and understand our experiences in new ways, and build new connections.” -Robyn Fivush Ph.D., Psychology Today
In any book you pick up you’ll end up observing how the author learned or didn’t learn to love (or accept) themselves. Books like these continue to become bestsellers because there’s always a reader (or millions) who suddenly understands themselves a teensy bit better after reading another's story. The hope is that by reading, relating, and understanding that you are not alone will encourage you to radically accept yourself. And maybe make you feel soothed, that at many points in life, humans go adrift.