If you’re struggling to like yourself, you’re not alone. We’re often our own worst critics and compare ourselves to others on a daily basis. Everyone else seems to be, do and have more than we do, and we dislike ourselves for our perceived inadequacies and failures.
But learning to like yourself is important because it’s the first step towards self-love and compassion – something that’s scientifically proven to have a host of health and wellbeing benefits.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO LIKE YOURSELF?
Imagine this. Your best friend comes to you with something that’s worrying them and asks if they can talk to you. Of course, you say yes and sit down together with a good coffee to listen to their troubles. As they’re talking, you see the pain in their eyes and the concern in their voice.
You reach across the table and squeeze their hand, giving them all the love and reassurance they need. By the end of the conversation, although the problem might not be solved, they go away feeling happier that they’ve spoken to you, safe in the knowledge they can turn to you when they need it.
Now imagine your friend comes to you and asks to speak to you. But instead of reaching across the table, you turn your back on them. Instead of words of encouragement, you shout at them. “Idiot! It’s all your fault! Why are you always doing everything wrong?” Your friend is crushed and bursts into tears, leaving the conversation far worse than when they arrived.
Like most people, you’d never imagine treating your friend in that way. But sadly, it’s often the way you treat yourself. And guess who you spend all your time with? Yup, that’s right… you! If negativity is all you’re listening to, it’s going to have a big impact on how much you like yourself.
You can begin to see the problem. Learning to like yourself isn’t just something that sounds nice to do, it’s actually crucial to your mental wellbeing. It can make all the difference to your confidence, your self-belief and your overall happiness. And the best bit? It’s a skill you can learn – it takes practice but you’ll soon start to reap the benefits.
So, here are 5 ways you can learn to like yourself better and start your self-love journey.
1. Recognise your feelings
Instead of avoiding your feelings, reflect on them. What are the negative comments you keep saying to yourself? Grab your journal and write them down. Now’s the time to get brave and say them out loud. You might feel quite emotional doing this and that’s perfectly normal – let those emotions come.
Ask yourself where this belief or negative comment came from? Why did you start saying this to yourself? It can be helpful to write these thoughts down too. Lots of our negative thoughts come from past experiences – how is it serving you to hold onto this experience? Give yourself permission to let go and move on.
2. Raise your awareness
Now you know the negative comments you say to yourself on a regular basis, it’s time to raise your awareness and catch yourself saying them. If, like most people, you’ve got a few things that keep coming up, start with one. Commit to listening out for it and when you hear it, change the narrative.
What could you replace that negative comment with? Reframing those negative thoughts into positive ones can make a lot of difference when it comes to liking yourself. Look back at your journal and re-write those negative thoughts into positive ones.
Now when you catch those old negative thoughts popping up, you can stop and replace them with your new positive phrase instead. Doing so goes a long way towards learning to like yourself.
3. High Five Habit
Author and motivational speaker, Mel Robbins, believes the journey to liking yourself starts with a morning high-five in the mirror. In her bestselling book, The High Five Habit, Mel shares a simple practice you can easily build into your daily routine. You take the time to look at yourself in the mirror, acknowledge the fact you’re doing your best and give your reflection a high-five.
Just doing this simple act is proven to do wonders for your self-esteem as you’re building a self-love habit into your day. Without doing these sorts of exercises, it’s easy to forget to show yourself regular compassion and express gratitude for the effort you’re making in every aspect of your life.
To listen to Mel talk about the high-five habit and learn more about it, tune in to this episode of the Feel Better, Live More podcast.
4. Celebrate your accomplishments
It’s so easy just to focus on the mistakes you make or the perceived failures you experience, whether in life or in business. But how often do you stop to celebrate the things you do each day that are successful? Probably not very often at all.
Raise your awareness of this too – even the smallest things deserve credit. If you’re having one of those days where life and work are colliding, take the time to celebrate just managing to make your way through it as best you can. Or if you have a big win, something you’ve been working on for a while, take the time to celebrate by sharing your good news with others.
We can make the mistake of thinking other people don’t want to hear about it, but those who love and care about you will. So tell them when things go right and allow yourself to feel proud. Speak to yourself in the way you would to a friend.
5. Mirror activity
Sometimes the thought of having your photo taken can make those negative thoughts creep in – after all, you’re going to see yourself in the way others do, rather than just the person you see in the mirror. To combat this and learn to like yourself both before and after your photoshoot, I often give my clients this piece of homework.
Stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye. Give yourself a compliment or say something kind to yourself – and repeat this daily. Say it out loud for maximum effect. It really is amazing how good it makes you feel about yourself.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO LEARN TO LIKE YOURSELF?
So now you know the importance of learning to like yourself and some different ways you can start to practise self-compassion, it’s time to choose one that feels right for you. Start small, but be consistent.
Self-love and self-compassion really are the only way to learn to be your own best friend – remember it’s your voice you listen to all day, every day. Why not make it your biggest supporter? You’ll soon see a difference if you do.