If you asked 10 people from completely different cultural backgrounds to define love you would probably get 10 different definitions. Yes of course there would be some common themes running through their definitions but love is going to mean something different to all of us which will mean that how we express that love will also vary.
For this reason I think that self love is going to vary from person to person as well. There’s no set way to love yourself more. What one person needs to feel love another will see no value in.
Cultivating self love starts with gaining a deeper understanding of yourself. Start with asking yourself what beliefs or behaviors work against your definition of love. Maybe it’s negative self talk or abusing your body with excessive alcohol. Without judgement make a list of things you do and think that are not coming from a place of love. Can you then gradually begin to let go of these things to create more space for kindness towards yourself (it can feel super liberating to burn a list of things you’d like to let go of, I highly recommend letting this one burn).
To keep things balanced also create a list of the things that you can do to practice self love. Ask yourself what makes you feel special, at peace or exuberant. Maybe it’s getting a massage, being in nature or going for a run. Keep this list somewhere that you can see it and make it a priority to make time for the things that speak to your soul.
This beautiful poem by Charlie Chaplin beautifully articulates the magic and realisation that can begin to happen when you love yourself.
As I Began to Love Myself
by Charlie Chaplin
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognised that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!