Love Yourself First: How To Learn To Love Yourself

by Leanne Jacklin-Grey

I once read a quote that said ‘When asked to list all the things you love, how long until you say yourself?’. It’s almost something we overlook, like we are meant to put everything else important to us over ourselves, but is it so wrong to admit that we love and care for ourselves?

When you stop and think about it, no matter how close you are to your friends, family or partner, you will spend more time with yourself than anyone else on this earth, so building a strong and beautiful relationship with YOU should be a priority.

I’ve been a flight attendant for almost 10 years and one of the first things we are taught is to fit our own oxygen masks before helping others. The idea is that if we are safe and well ourselves, we are more capable of helping others. This is so relevant not just at 30,000 feet, but in everyday life too. If we want to help others we must first help ourselves.

Have you ever noticed that we will set ourselves goals, commit ourselves to achieving something that is really important to us, but then as soon as we have a friend who needs help with what they are working on, we are the first to let ourselves down. Why do we do this? It is almost as if we feel guilt for making ourselves a priority in our own lives.

Let’s say you really want to get in better shape, you got a bit carried away with the sweet treats over the holidays (join the club!) and now you really want to focus on feeling fit and healthy again. Your best friend on the other hand, has no interest in the gym and loves to eat fast food, which you also enjoy now and again, but you really want to reach your goal this time. So when she calls to hang out, you know you want to do your workout and cook a nice healthy meal instead, but you really don’t want to miss out on spending time with your friend. Your goal gets pushed aside. You meet your friend and end up eating the junk food that in all honesty, you don’t really enjoy because you know you have healthy food waiting for you at home. When the day is over you realise, although you had a nice time with your friend, you’re no closer to reaching the goal you have set for yourself. Sound familiar?
Instead of repeating the same patterns you need to start making your goals matter. Why not suggest to your friend cooking a meal together instead of eating out? Or if you want to treat yourself to a meal out, why not suggest a fun dance class or going for a long walk before hand so you at least still get your workout in? You don’t have to change your life completely, but you can make small alterations to help you get to where you want to be.
This isn’t just fitness related either, your goal could be to start your own business, work on your passion, save some money, or even learn a new skill. The point is, if you want to make something happen in your life, you need to make it a priority.

Now I would be lying if I said that self love is easy, it is hard. That sounds silly but for most of us, loving ourselves is hard. It takes work, time and consistency, the same as any career or fitness journey, you get from it what you put into it.
Something that really helped me on my journey was making a list of all the qualities I admire in others. Your list may be something like this:
-Ambitious, passionate and driven
-Takes care of their health
-Has a positive energy
-Financially independent
-Continues to educate themselves
-Confident in their own skin
-Doesn’t speak badly of others
-Fun to be around

Now take a moment to go through the list and ask yourself honestly, how many of the traits you listed do you have yourself?
If any of them are slightly lacking, that’s a great place for you to start. Whether that means you invest more time on your career, stop negative talk about others, or commit to cooking healthy meals for yourself and your family, it’s time to start making changes and becoming the person you want to be! If these are the qualities you admire most in others, and you are working towards achieving these things too, the love for yourself will grow.

Another great exercise to try is making a list of all the things you love about yourself. Aim for 10 things at first and keep adding to it every time you think of something new. Keep it somewhere close by, like your notebook or even save it on your phone, so whenever you are not feeling so great you can remind yourself of all the things that are wonderful about YOU. If you find this difficult, why not try asking friends or family what they like about you and build your list from there. This is something that is very personal to you so don’t feel as though you shouldn’t be adding certain things, if you are proud of yourself for something...write it down!
Your list could be along the lines of:
-I love that I am kind and patient
-I love my eyes, they are so bright!
-I love that I am working hard on improving my fitness
-I love my personal style, it’s unique to me
-I love that I work hard on following my dreams
-I love that I help others when I can
-I love that I am brave when I need to be
-I love my smile, especially when it makes others smile too!

Love is something that should not be outsourced, in other words, you shouldn’t rely on love from someone else to feel love, it should always start from within. If you are constantly looking for love or validation from another person, what happens when they take that away? Or circumstances change? Then you will forever be looking for love from an outside source. Instead, consider filling yourself with so much love that, not only do you have enough for you that you don’t rely on anyone else to make you feel loved, but that it overflows to those around you too.

‘Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency, and has more to do with love of self than love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn't about what others can give you because you are empty. It is about what you can give others because you’re already full’ - Yasmin Moghed

Remember it is not only ok, but necessary for you to love yourself first. If you are ready to truly be the best version of you, don’t allow anybody or anything distract you from your greatness. You are allowed to be number one in your life, so time to start building the best relationship with yourself and do this for you!

So, let me ask you again to list all the things you love. Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to mention this time the most important thing...YOU!