· By PYM STORE
6 Steps to Authentic Self-Love for Mental Health
As we go through the daily stressors of life, trying to juggle all of our competing priorities, our own needs and relationship with ourself often falls to the wayside.
But practicing self-love can actually make these daily stressors easier to manage!
According to our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Raghu Appasani, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, "Loving yourself is not a destination, it's a journey. And the evidence shows that it leads to better mental health, improved relationships, and a greater sense of purpose. Self-love and self-compassion have been scientifically proven to reduce stress, increase resilience, lead to positive self-image, and lower rates of depression and anxiety."
Self-love can be defined as an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue. That includes accepting yourself as you are, prioritizing your needs, nurturing your growth and well-being, setting healthy boundaries and forgiving yourself when needed.
So, how do we actually do it? How do we get rid of the negative, critical voices inside our heads and begin to build a sense of self-worth? Read on to learn how!
Self-love is not narcissism
Let's get this myth out of the way first! People often hold themselves back from exploring self-love and self-worth because they fear being viewed as a "narcissist" or "self-obsessed".
When in fact, narcissism is quite the opposite of self-love. Narcissists may appear to be super confident and love themselves, however, they are constantly seeking approval because of their insecurities.
According to research, the narcissist is typically characterized by arrogance, superiority, vanity, entitlement, and the incessant need for acclaim from others. They are much more driven to get ahead and to dominate others.
Those scoring high on measures of self-esteem, however, tend to feel satisfied with themselves but do not necessarily see themselves as superior to others. They are more focused on establishing deep, intimate relationships with others and viewing themselves and others as equally worthy.
So, by all means, work on your self-love!!
Why do so many of us struggle with self-love?
A study done by The Body Shop reported that one in two women feel more self-doubt than self-love, with 60% wishing they had more respect for themselves. So if you struggle with self-love, you're not alone! There are a few different factors that lead to low self-love and self-worth:
1. Early childhood experiences
Whether or not we grew up in a home where our parental figures treated us as though we are worthy, with respect and kindness, is a huge indication of our levels of self-worth as adults. If as children we felt that we had to constantly please others and make great achievements in order to be viewed as worthy, we are likely to continue playing that out as adults by being "perfectionists", and "high achievers", never satisfied with ourselves and what we've accomplished.
2. Systemic Oppression
There are many circumstances in our world that have inherent biases against groups of people. Unequal pay, lack of representation, police brutality, wealth gaps, laws in place that take away rights for certain groups of people...all of this and more sends the message that some people are not equal to or as worthy as others.
3. Negativity Bias
This is a term in Psychology that means we humans are much more likely to remember and hold on to the negatives of life than the positives. While it's a great survival strategy, it's not so great for our self-worth! We'll never forget the time our teacher said we were stupid or our high school crush said we were ugly, yet we ignore the dozens of times people we love and respect have said how beautiful and intelligent we are.
4. Unrealistic Beauty Standards
We are constantly being marketed all sorts of ways that we are not good enough and need some external product to fit in and reach the unrealistic beauty standards set by society. Clothes, make up, surgeries, diets, pills...all of this gives us the idea that we must acquire something outside of ourselves in order to finally be worthy.
6 Steps to Authentic Self-Love
These are the key steps to take to build self-worth, feel good, and improve your mental health and well-being!
1. Connect with your inner child
As mentioned previously, self-worth really begins in childhood. Therefore, it's important to connect with your inner child and trace back where and when you started to believe you were not worthy. In our free Self-Love Guide: A 6 Day Journey to Authentic Self-Love, we include 8 journal prompts for connecting with your inner child.
2. Reframe Negative Thoughts
Remember, according to the Negativity Bias principle, our mind focuses on the negative more than the positive. Start to become aware of the negative thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself as they arise, write them down so you can see them, and examine them. Ask yourself, is this thought really true? If you thought the opposite were true, how would your life change? We also include a full exercise on how to reframe negative thoughts in our free Self-Love Guide!
3. Get to Know Yourself
Self awareness is a key aspect of self-love. We spend 100% of our time with ourselves, and yet most of us don't know who we are! When you truly get to know yourself, you'll see that there is a lot to love about you.
Some ways to get to know yourself is to take free personality tests online such as the Myers-Briggs, uncover your core values, and to ask your friends and family what they love most about you. We include an exercise to uncover your core values in the free Self-Love Guide.
4. Take Care of Yourself
One of the greatest acts of self-love is to take care of your body and mind. Think of your body and mind as a home for your soul. How would you make a safe, comfortable home for your soul to live in?
It starts with properly nourishing yourself, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, having daily routines to take care of your mental health, and cultivating positive, healthy relationships in your life.
If you're not sure where to start with this, start by writing down each life category: Physical Health, Mental Health, Spiritual Health, Environment, Relationships. For each category, rate on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent, how you feel you're doing in each.
Once you have your ratings, look at the ones that scored the lowest. Write down:
1. What's holding you back from scoring higher in this area
2. What action steps you need to take to change that and when you'll do them
If your "mental health" category is scoring low, PYM is here to help! Give your self-love and mental health a boost with our Oxytocin Boost Bundle, formulated with research-backed nutrients to help boost oxytocin (your "love hormone"), regulate mood, reduce stress, and enhance sleep!
5. Mirror Gazing
Thanks to the beauty industry, it can be difficult to look in the mirror and love what we see. But all hope is not lost! With practice, we can begin to see our inner and outer beauty.
The practice known as mirror gazing is great for body confidence and loving the skin you're in. And it's simple!
All you have to do is carve out some intentional time to sit down in front of a mirror, and deeply look at yourself. Look at every part of your body, and send gratitude to it. Acknowledge what it does for you, and say thank you.
For example, thank your eyes for helping you see the beauty of the world.
Thank your tongue for tasking delicious food.
Thank your heart for helping you experience love.
What else do you want to thank your body for?
6. Forgive yourself
We all make mistakes, and it's an important act of self-love to be able to forgive yourself and move on. Holding on to feelings of shame, guilt, and regret harm our physical and mental well-being, and sense of self-esteem. We've included a powerful exercise for self-forgiveness in the Self-Love Guide!
Self-love is a critical part of mental health. It helps us manage adversity, reduces stress, and improves overall satisfaction and well-being.
There are several factors at play that inhibit our ability to love ourselves, such as unrealistic beauty standards, systemic oppression, and early childhood experiences, but the good news is, with intentional practice, we can develop healthy self-love!
To do this, focus on:
- Connecting with your inner child
- Reframing negative thoughts
- Get to know yourself
- Take care of yourself
- Mirror gazing
Remember, healing is not linear, it's a journey. You'll likely have days where you really do feel like you love yourself, and other days where the inner critic's voice is much louder. Try out the exercises in the free 6 Day Journey to Authentic Self-Love guide and it will get easier, promise!