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How to Increase Self-Love and Embrace Your Uniqueness

According to Merriam-Webster, self-love is defined as an appreciation of one's own worth or virtue; proper regard for and attention to one's own happiness or well-being.

Self-love is best understood as a journey rather than a destination. This perspective emphasizes that self-love is a continuous, evolving process. Much like any journey, it includes highs and lows, and the path can occasionally be difficult. Nonetheless, each step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

Self-love does not stem from the love and care we receive from others; it comes from the love we give ourselves. While compliments and approval from others are pleasant, they should not solely define our self-worth. We must move beyond the belief that we are only lovable because of others' positive perceptions. The journey of self-love is about recognizing and valuing the good we see in ourselves.


Embrace Your Uniqueness

One way to recognize the goodness in ourselves is by embracing what makes us unique. This involves appreciating the qualities we like about ourselves. Our uniqueness isn't shaped by the outside world but comes from understanding, valuing, and accepting who we truly are. Uncovering this can sometimes be challenging, but each person possesses a distinct combination of qualities, experiences, and perspectives that define them.

One way to discover what makes you unique is by keeping a journal, either mentally or physically. At the end of each day, reflect on what you like about yourself. Don't just write it down and move on; fully experience it. Consider how what you like about yourself makes you feel. Pause, take a deep breath, and let that feeling fill your body. This practice helps integrate self-love into your life. Reflecting on these attributes reinforces a positive self-image and reminds you of your inherent worth.


Celebrate Your Progress

Another way to cultivate self-love is by celebrating our progress. Often, we focus only on our mistakes, a habit rooted in our brain's instinct to keep us safe by highlighting potential dangers. This primitive instinct, aimed at protection, doesn't always serve us well in modern life. We can choose to override this instinct and retrain our brains to focus on our achievements. Even mistakes contribute to our progress, turning into learning opportunities rather than affirmations of inadequacy. By acknowledging and celebrating our growth, we reinforce a positive self-image and nurture self-love.

Retraining our brain by practicing self-love involves recognizing and celebrating your progress. And we’re not just talking about the big things. Small victories are important too. They can serve as important milestones on your journey. Whether it’s achieving a personal goal, overcoming a challenge, or simply making it through a tough day, every accomplishment deserves acknowledgment.

Try setting aside time each week to reflect on what you’ve achieved. This can be done through journaling, meditation, or even sharing your successes with a trusted friend or family member. Celebrating your progress not only boosts your self-esteem but also motivates you to continue growing and improving.

Once, while updating my resume after years of working in my chosen career in education, I experienced a significant boost in self-confidence. Reviewing my resume and all I had accomplished over the years allowed me to see the progress I had made. It also helped me appreciate my uniqueness. By reflecting on my professional achievements, I gained insight into what I enjoyed doing and what made me unique.

To boost your self-confidence and self-love, try reviewing your resume as I did. Another helpful activity is creating a life timeline. Break it down into five- or ten-year increments, and list all your accomplishments during each period. This process might take a few days, as not everything will come to mind immediately. By giving yourself time, you'll gradually recall achievements, prompting moments like, "Oh yeah, that was another cool thing I did in my twenties or thirties."


Another crucial aspect of self-love is self-compassion, which means treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you extend to others. When you make a mistake or encounter a setback, practice self-forgiveness and empathy instead of being overly critical. Developing self-compassion can be challenging, especially if you're used to being hard on yourself. One effective technique is to consider what you would say to a friend in the same situation and then direct those compassionate words toward yourself.

Often, when we lack self-compassion and are hard on ourselves, it’s because we view situations through the lens of self-criticism and shame. It’s helpful to pause and consider the situation from different perspectives. We typically operate from a single narrative that feels like reality, but we can challenge this line of thinking. Ask yourself: What else might be happening here? Did I really mess up everything, or was it just a minor issue? Did I actually say something wrong that upset my friend, or were they already upset about something else? These questions help us challenge and reframe the narrative we tell ourselves.

Remember, the journey of self-love is unique for everyone. It’s about embracing who you are, celebrating your progress, and treating yourself with kindness. By committing to this journey, you’ll discover a deeper sense of self-worth and fulfillment.


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