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How to Love Your Whole Self

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor

Take loving yourself to the next level, and learn how to love your whole self!

“Love yourself” is a common phrase in anything that has to do with your personal development. Phrases like “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else” are commonplace. As is the concept that our emotional reactions come from things like low self-worth and low self-esteem.

Loving yourself is not selfish—it is a key component of growth and development. People can be so filled with love and empathy that it can often be difficult to understand how many people struggle to love themselves. Just what are our obstacles to loving ourselves? How can you overcome them and learn to love your whole self?

“You have to grow, you have to be, you have to love yourself unconditionally.” ― Dominic Riccitello

Why is it hard to love ourselves sometimes

Have you ever noticed that the way you think and speak to yourself are things you would never say to someone else? Do you work at a pace that you don’t expect of your employees or coworkers?

Why is it so easy to demand so much from ourselves and be simultaneously unforgiving when we can’t meet our expectations?

A large part of the reason comes down to how the human brain is wired. Thanks to our ancestors and their fight for survival, our brains operate under what is called a negativity bias.

This simply means that we are more impacted by negative events than positive ones.

Put a little more specifically, “Negativity bias refers to our proclivity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information” (Vaish et al., 2008). We use negativity bias to keep ourselves safe, but it backfires in our personal development.

For example, you are much more likely to remember that one hateful comment left on your article than the other 20 comments praising it. Think about that time someone who mattered (either a boss, family member, or romantic partner) critiqued your behavior.

Do you remember it more vividly than the times they have had good things to say about you? Or, better yet, the wonderful things other bosses, family members, or romantic partners have said about you?

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This is negativity bias rearing its ugly head. Negativity bias is not nearly as helpful as it was when we were running from predators or in constant danger. Now, it just makes it harder for us to love ourselves. Harder, yes, impossible—no!

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to love yourself and work on overcoming negativity bias

The first thing you can do to help love yourself is to care less about the opinions of others. This doesn’t mean just focusing on the good opinions and not the negative ones.

I mean, really letting it go. Sure, when someone has nice things to say, it will boost your ego and make you feel good. However, because of negativity bias, those harsh words stick better.

Placing weight on what other people think means that you are also placing weight on negative opinions, too. Then you are left trying to figure out what is “true.”

Recognizing that you bring about your own happiness and that what someone else has to say about it doesn’t matter is incredibly freeing. When you put your truth into what matters to you, what makes you happy, and what fulfills your purpose—loving yourself will become easier!

Next, don’t be afraid to remove toxic people from your life—no matter who they are. These are the people who drain your energy or drag you to a place where the negative emotions, past events, and old resentments get rehashed.

Set boundaries and if that doesn’t work, stop putting yourself in situations like this. It is difficult, and you will feel a whole range of emotions, but it is much easier to love yourself when the surrounding people are not laying on a bunch of toxicity.

Finally, process your trauma and fears. We all have some kind of trauma and fear, and negativity bias causes us to focus constantly on it.

That isn’t what we need if we want to love ourselves. Look at it and accept your feelings about it instead of trying to feel something else. Once you acknowledge your feelings, then you can begin healing.

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Understanding your fears can help you recognize behavior patterns and make adjustments. It can lessen your anxiety and help you be real with yourself. I would highly recommend a therapist to help you work through all of this—especially if you have dealt with some significant trauma in the past.

You are much more than the negative opinions of others. Your value is much deeper than the negativity toxic people around you bring to the table. You’re much more than the sum of your fears and life experiences.

“Dismantle your wounds, so you stop living your life by them.” ― Nikki Rowe

Other things you can do to love yourself daily

In this world where social media and competitiveness are all around us, it’s hard not to compare yourself to other people. However, when you understand your uniqueness in this world and stop comparing yourself to others, it is much easier to love yourself. After all, there is only one of you.

Show yourself the same compassion and empathy you show others. When other people make a mistake, we say things like, “It’s ok! Everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect!” We expect them to believe us and feel better because it is true.

No one is perfect, and humans make mistakes. However, ask yourself how you react when you make a mistake.

Are you as kind to yourself as you are to others? You are also only human, and no one is perfect. So be kind!

Along with compassion, allow yourself to trust in your decision-making abilities. We all carry around self-doubt, but with making decisions for ourselves, just know that no one knows you better than you do.

You should be your biggest advocate and fan. Do what works for you and remember that your feelings and thoughts are valid. If a decision concerns you, then it is yours to make!

Finally, put yourself first. When you are the healthiest and happiest version of yourself, you are much better for the people you care about. Care for yourself properly.

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You can not pour from an empty cup. Self-care also means that you go after your own goals and dreams.

When life gives you an opportunity, take it! There is never a perfect time to do things.

Sometimes, we are presented with things and wonder if this is our moment. You are not guaranteed a certain number of moments in this life, so when you can seize the day, do it!

If you are looking for an opportunity and you don’t see one, then create it! Love yourself enough to take a chance at your dreams and figure out a way to make them happen. Be bold and enter the world like you are an important, valued piece of the puzzle—because you are.

“Our entire life… consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.” ― Jean Anouih

Love yourself even when it is tough

There are things that have happened in all our lives that we are not proud of. Bad things happen, and they reinforce that negativity bias.

But with a little kindness, trust, and care, you can truly learn to love yourself. Acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses and make the most of who you are.

My sister asked me the other day if I liked myself. I responded that I genuinely do. It has taken me a while to get there.

I read encouraging quotes every day, practice self-affirmations, and try to focus on the positive. It sounds a little hippy-dippy, but I promise these little things, with the bigger mindset shifts mentioned, really will help you learn to love yourself.

Then you can spread that love into all the areas of your life—like shining a flashlight in a dark room. Keep your batteries charged with a little self-love, so you can keep shining bright!

Think about how far you have come, the impact you have made, and the miracle that you are. There is a power in loving yourself that opens up so many things in your life. You deserve to live the life you envision.

Do you have any tips you would like to share about how you learned to love yourself? Share them with us in the comment section below.

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