(Mindfulness)

What Does It Mean To Love Yourself More?

Five ways to put it into practice.

By Jessica Estrada
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the meaning of self-love

One thing that self-help books and endless streams of Instagram quotes have taught us is the importance of practicing self-love. Still, that begs the question: How exactly do you do it? How do you actually apply the concept of loving yourself more in real life? The short answer is that practicing self-love goes way beyond self-care practices like doing face masks and taking bubble baths. Yes, those things can be a component of showing yourself love, but true self-love goes much deeper than that.

“Self-love is not fluffy; it’s a relationship with yourself that has high expectations and high support,” says Dr. Sasha Heinz, a developmental psychologist and mindset coach to TZR. “It starts by committing to small actions that help us build our self-respect and then celebrating that rock-solid relationship we have developed with ourselves.”

Licensed therapist Ce Anderson adds that self-love is “one's ability to recognize their authentic self as valuable, worthy, and regard for happiness,” making it a foundational practice to our overall well-being. “When we neglect to honor ourselves with [practicing] self-love, we run the risk of being unbalanced, mistreated, and our mental wellness suffering greatly,” she says. In other words, Dr. Heinz says, self-love comes down to taking really good care of ourselves and showing up in alignment with who we want to be.

To put the concept of “loving yourself more” into practice IRL, Dr. Heinz and Anderson share five tangible tips below.

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Take Your Dreams Seriously

Both Anderson and Dr. Heinz say that setting goals for ourselves, prioritizing them, and taking consistent, mindful action toward achieving them is an act of self-love. “Loving yourself means having your own back and believing in your potential,” Dr. Heinz says. Anderson adds that setting goals helps keep you focused and ensures you’re using your energy effectively and intentionally towards the things you want.

To do this, Dr. Heinz recommends setting concrete goals that directly lead to your big dreams. Then decide on the specific action steps you’ll take to accomplish those goals and block off time to do them in your calendar.

Set Boundaries With Others & Yourself

Setting boundaries with the people in your life is another tangible way to practice loving yourself more. “I love boundaries because they define what's mine and what's yours,” Anderson says. “Simply put, who's responsible for what — emotions, property, ideas, intellect, money, physical self, sexual self are all governed by boundaries. Creating and implementing boundaries identifies what one holds valuable and dictates how others are to treat you.”

Furthermore, Dr. Heinz also emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries with yourself, specifically around your time and how you use it. She suggests doing a time inventory by tracking your time for one week and noting what you spend your time on throughout the day. Yes, this can be a tedious task, she says, but it can also be “extremely illuminating” to learn how much time you’re actually spending on different things.

From there, Dr. Heinz says, decide what areas you want to cut down on. For instance, you may find that you spend more time than you’d like scrolling through social media. In this case, setting screen time limits for yourself is a form of self-love and provides more time to focus on other things that are important to you.

Put Yourself First

Putting your needs before everyone else’s is a key element of practicing self-love, Anderson says. This isn’t selfish, she explains. It simply means that to give to others, such as your family and loved ones, you must first fill up your cup by prioritizing your well-being.

So, how do you put yourself first? According to Dr. Heinz, the key is keeping one very small promise to yourself every day like you would keep a promise to someone you love. This can be flossing, attending a workout class, sticking to your budget, going to sleep early, or whatever you need to nourish yourself. This is important because love — including self-love — requires trust. “Building inner integrity is at the root of building a better relationship with yourself,” Dr. Heinz says. “It’s hard to love ourselves when we feel constantly let down by our own decisions and actions. Building the habit of keeping our own word will restore our inner integrity and end the war within.”

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Prioritize Real Rest

In our go-go-go culture, rest often gets put on the back-burner, but it is one of the simplest and most profound ways to show yourself love. “Taking a purposeful pause and breaking from the constant pressure of busyness is a radical form of self-love,” Anderson says. “It says: ‘I listen to my highest self and put my well-being first,’ in a society that often sends the message that humans are only valuable if and when they are productive.” She also encourages saying no to things you don’t want to do or don’t have the bandwidth for to prioritize your rest and do so without explanation. And remember, “being free doesn't mean that you're available,” she says.

Be Genuinely Interested In Yourself

When you love and care about someone, Dr. Heinz says you’re deeply interested in getting to know their inner world — their perspectives, preferences, feelings, and experiences. Building a solid relationship with yourself requires doing the same. “The more self-authored and internalized our self-concept becomes, the easier it is to have compassion and love for ourselves,” she says. “We stop living life as if we’re under the constant judgment of a panel of Olympic judges. We begin to realize that we are the arbiters of our own lives and begin to trust our own internal voice.”

Dr. Heinz recommends writing your definitions for the roles and expectations in your life to put this into practice. “Spend 15 minutes a week writing a new definition,” she says. "For example, write a definition for what it means to be ‘a good mom’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘professional at work’ or ‘a good friend.’ Define how you have fun. Define what success means to you. You will learn so much about yourself and perhaps start to define your own standards and priorities.”