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What is self love and why is it important to know how to love yourself? 

Self love is knowing your authentic self, knowing your value, and knowing your own worth. It is realizing that your personal needs, wants and desires are important. It is believing that your life matters and that you are here for a purpose.

Self love is becoming your truest self, and most likely your happiest and healthiest self. When we love ourselves we don’t need affirmation or validation from other people to know how incredible we are. We can recognize our own greatness and become intentional about affirming ourselves.

Why Is There A Struggle?

Many of us have struggled with self-love because we were taught to always put others first. We were taught that taking care of our own needs and wants was selfish and vain. Another cause of our struggle with self-love is that we have often allowed the world to tell us who we are.

We let everyone around us tell us who we are instead of believing what’s truly inside of us. We don’t recognize the person that we are naturally.

As we grow up we start to accept the world’s lens of who we are instead of God’s lens. This often causes us to create a negative inner dialogue about who we are.

Learning to love yourself can be a hard process because it often goes against the way our families and society have raised us. The journey may be hard at times, but the process is worth it.

Knowing who you are and embracing every facet of yourself is worth it. Having a healthy mindset and healthy relationships is worth it.

Self-love comes out of the process of self-discovery and aligning yourself with who God created you to be. Every one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:16) and created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).

The path to self-love is letting go of any lie that you were taught and embracing who God says you are. It’s embracing every strength, skill, and gift that He put in you. The most successful people in life build upon their strengths instead of wasting energy on their weaknesses.

What Does it Mean to Love Yourself?

Loving yourself means loving every part of who you are. It means loving your inward and outward appearance. It means loving your strengths, your gifts, and even the way you think.

Loving yourself means letting go of what has happened to you and becoming empowered to move forward in the truth of who God says you are. It means embracing your authentic self and not hiding the real side of who you are.

It’s doing this even if you feel like you won’t fit in. You are a unique individual so you will operate better when you live according to your genuine self.

Why is This Important?

The word of God says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NKJV). The Message translation says that we should, “Love others as well as you love yourself.” We talk about the first part about loving our neighbor but skip past the part that says love them as you love yourself.

If you don’t truly love yourself, you won’t be able to love your neighbors to the magnitude that God desires. Often when you are unhappy with yourself, it can be hard to be genuinely happy for others.

If your inner dialogue is negative, you tend to project that onto others and point out all of the negative things you see in them.

Have you heard the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people?” Oftentimes when we are hurting we tend to project that pain to others. It’s hard to help others when we are “bleeding everywhere”.

A healthy person operates in the fullness of who God created them to be and treats others with that same energy. For you to truly love other people, you have to love yourself first.

I would like to make a disclaimer that this message of self love does not mean we are putting ourselves above God or above others. It is not a message about worshipping ourselves, especially above God. It is simply to see ourselves that way that God created us to be.

Bible open with pages folded into a heart representing how to love yourself

 How to Love Yourself

  • Learn what God says about you. This is the most important part of discovering who you are. We are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) and it is in knowing who He is and who He created us to be, that we can learn who we are. Here are some scriptures to get you started.
  • Be intentional about learning who you are. The only way to truly love yourself is to take the time to get to know who you are. What are your likes and dislikes? What do you value, believe in, and stand for? Grab a journal, writing utensils, and use this list of questions to learn more about yourself.
  • Learn what your strengths and spiritual gifts are. As you continue to dive into who you are don’t be afraid to use different tools and resources to help you learn more about specific parts of who you are. There are many strength, personality, and spiritual gift tests out there.

    I have linked some of my favorite tests that I used during my journey of self-discovery. Knowing these different parts of me helped me understand myself better and helped me start to put the pieces of the puzzle together about who I truly was.

    Spiritual Gifts Test
    Strengths Test
    Personality Test
  • List your qualities (personality, gifts, strengths, successes). After taking the time to discover the many wonderful facets of who you are, be creative in displaying those for yourself to see.

    You could create a poster, a book, post-its, or just make a list. The possibilities are endless and should represent who you are as a whole person.
  • Write “I love ________” statements. Now that you have made a list of all of your wonderful qualities, it’s time to embrace those qualities. It’s important that you love who you are and everything that makes you wonderful.

    Take your list of qualities and turn them into “I Love” statements. You can say, “I love my ___”, “I love that I ___”, or even “I love how ___”. These are for you so don’t try to make them perfect, just make them and then speak them. Before you know it you’re going to start believing them.
  • Speak affirmations daily. The word of God says to renew our minds daily. Our minds are constantly attacked with negative thoughts, so it is important to be speaking truthful, positive thoughts out loud every day.

    The more you do this, the easier it becomes to change your thinking. Learn more about how to use affirmations here.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. A quote that I have heard that has always stuck with me is, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There is so much truth to this statement. God created each one of us individually and set us apart from every other person He created.

    When we try to compare ourselves to others, we are telling God that He didn’t do a good job creating us. Limit your social media use, recognize when you are feeling jealous, and most importantly take time to pray.

    There is freedom in our minds when we stop comparing ourselves to others and start embracing all the wonderful things that make us who we are.
  • Take time to practice daily self-gratitude. Gratitude is an acknowledgment of appreciation, and you are deserving of appreciating yourself. Whether you choose to do this verbally or write it out, each day acknowledge something about yourself that you are grateful for.
  • Set boundaries and be empowered to say “no”. One way of showing yourself love is by setting boundaries with people and understanding that “No” is a complete sentence. Those of us who deal with people-pleasing feel bad when we have to tell someone no.

    The unfortunate fact is that when we do this we are saying no to ourselves, and often to our peace. Learn how to set boundaries with others and you will see how much freedom you get when you learn to say “No” to others.
sign that says be confident next to some journals - how to love yourself
  • Treat yourself and celebrate yourself. We all have things we want and desire, so allow yourself to be treated by you every once in a while. It is not selfish to take care of your needs; it’s healthy.

    Go get that manicure, massage, coffee, dinner date, or even take a shopping trip. As much energy as you give to others, you should be giving to yourself.
  • Start being honest with yourself. This one can be hard; acknowledging the truth about ourselves even if it doesn’t make us look good or feel good. But the fact of the matter is that when we acknowledge the truth it gives us freedom.

    It allows us to identify the issue but also helps us start to get to the root. Once you get to the root of the issue you can start the process of healing.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes and be ok with your imperfections. It is okay to not be perfect. Nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes, even those people you look up to.

    There is nothing wrong with you and it does not make you less valuable because you are imperfect. Start accepting who you are, without conditions and without exceptions.
  • Forgive yourself and forgive your past. Most of us have had something bad done or said to us in our past. It is time for you to forgive yourself for that situation and to forgive any other person that was involved in that situation. The forgiveness is not for them, it is to give you peace and to allow you to move forward.

    Healing comes from forgiveness. Stop blaming yourself, acknowledge that it happened, and remember that whatever happened to you is not your fault and not who you are. It does not define you and does not have control over you.
  • Enjoy some downtime. Loving yourself means allowing yourself time to rest. Do something relaxing that you enjoy doing and stop feeling guilty about taking time to rest. Even God took a day of Sabbath after the 6 days of creation.
  • Understand that it is ok and necessary to feel your feelings. Our feelings are valid, but they do not define us and should not confine us. Acknowledge how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way, but don’t stay stuck in your feelings. Feelings are temporary and don’t always tell the truth.

    When you don’t acknowledge your feelings you may end up exploding at some time due to bottling up your feelings or turning cold as a defense mechanism. So feel your feelings, acknowledge what happened, then work to move forward.
  • Take good care of your physical health. Our physical health is important to us because we only have one body to live in. When we take care of our body we just feel better. We feel better when we exercise and we feel better when we eat right.

    You don’t have to work out every day and you don’t have to give up your favorite treats. You can do these things in moderation, but make sure you are taking care of your body.
  • Change your inner dialogue, you’re the one listening. You can ignore what other people are saying about you but you cannot ignore the dialogue that is in your mind.

    What are you saying about yourself? What words is your mind listening to? It is important to feed your mind with words of love, words of gratitude, and positive words.
  • Stand up for yourself and start putting yourself first. Show love to yourself by standing up for yourself and not feeling bad about putting yourself first. The only way you can take care of other people is if you take care of yourself.

    Even the flight attendants remind us that if something were to happen on the plane end the oxygen masks came down, that you need to put your mask on first before helping others with their masks. If you don’t take care of yourself you will not be around to take care of those you love.
  • Be intentional about who you are in a relationship with. You are not meant to be in a relationship with every person. Not every person is meant to be your friend. You have permission right now to get rid of the toxic people in your life.

    While you are going through this journey of learning how to truly love yourself it is important that you only have positive people in your inner circle. Not everyone is allowed to be that close to you, not everyone is going to be happy for you, and not everyone is deserving of your time and energy. 
  • Remember that your value isn’t in your physical appearance. Oftentimes, especially as women, society makes us believe that our value comes from how we physically look. But our physical appearance does not determine our value.

    God determines your value and He says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that you are beautiful. You are more valuable than any gemstone.

    Your height, weight, skin color, hair, and physical features do not determine your value. You are God’s child, a part of His royal family, and He says you are valuable just because you exist.

    Read this story about how changing my mindset changed my life.

If you need professional support for working through this process, you might consider online therapy.

ANY QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please leave a comment below.


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10 Comments

  1. This was such a great read. I love your point: “be intentional about learning who you are.” This is something I don’t think any of us do enough of because learning about yourself is often hard and challenging. And, so much of what we think about ourselves is based on what others think about us or our physical appearance and that’s absolutely not what is important. I’ve been practicing gratitude through journaling this year (something new to me) and I’ve found I’m much more appreciative of the small things in life than I ever have been. It’s been a great way to realize all the things that I have in a world that often seems to tell you you don’t have enough or you are not enough. Thanks for sharing these great strategies!

    1. Thank you! It wasn’t until I started being intentional with learning who I was that I could fully appreciate myself. Journaling is such a great tool!

  2. I love this. For years I struggled to see myself as valuable. For me, one of the best things that ever happened was that a friend called me out on my sin. When my kids were toddlers, I was overwhelmed. I had a friend confront me and tell me that I had been short with others and was acting like a jerk. I had no idea. I was consumed with feeling like a failure as a pastor’s wife and mom, and it made me virtually unable to love others.

    I apologized to her and cried out to God in that dark moment. That was one of those pivotal times when I finally understood that God sees my heart with all its sinfulness and still loves me. I realized that I was not trusting that He created me a certain way and He had a reason for it. Even with my flaws, He wanted to use me to love others. That moment changed me. I finally understood why loving yourself is crucial.

    Thank you for this post!

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing that! I’ve had a couple of pivotal moments as well where I had to repent for my negative thinking and had to ask God to help me see myself right.

  3. I have always really struggled with perfectionism and not being able to move on from and forgive myself for what I saw as mistakes (whether they really were or not). I think one thing that has really helped me is having a daughter. While I’ve tried really hard not to let her see that part of me, I’m sure some of it has trickled down, and I see that, whether it’s nature or nurture, she has some of the same struggles. And in watching her be too hard on herself, I realize that I’m too hard on myself. I’ve shared with her openly that I also struggle with that, and I’ve made a concerted effort not just to pretend to love myself and forgive myself, but to really do that so that she has a model to follow and knows it’s possible to leave that kind of self-critical thinking behind–hopefully earlier than I did.

    1. I love that! I realized that some of my mom’s struggles trickled down to me, to no fault of her own. She did the best that she could. I don’t have children yet, but passing down my own struggles is something I do get concerned about at times. I love that you have been open with your daughter about it because then she knows she has you for support.

  4. I absolutely love your guide to loving yourself.

    We can be so critical of ourselves and only see the flaws. In reality, God sees more than that in us.

    I’m learning to stop my negative viewpoints about myself and try to see myself the way God see me. It’s a work in progress

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