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Tips to Cultivate Self-Love
Self‑Care

Tips to Cultivate Self-Love

Self-love. With a new baby, a busy home, and this crazy stretch in life, who’s got the time? While it may seem impossible to focus on yourself, it’s essential that you do…especially right now. When you take care of “you”, everyone gets your very best. So take a moment to focus on self-love with tips from our Mommys Bliss 360 expert, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Certified Perinatal Mental Health Pro, Laurel Johnson. We feel the love already. 

You may hear the words “self-love” often and wonder what that means and what it looks like in day-to-day practice. The hard truth is that we live in a society with a lot of pressure, expectations, and messages that you need to change in order to be your “best self”. We’re also up against a commonly held view that loving yourself is egotistical. Self-love can be especially challenging for new parents who are adjusting to changes in their identities, bodies, relationships, careers, and roles.

In reality, self-love is the foundation of your mental health and wellbeing, and sets the stage for how you show up in the world. Self-love is the basis of the relationship that you have with yourself, and can greatly impact the way you feel in your daily life. Loving yourself means embracing your flaws and mistakes, choosing relationships and habits that are healthy, and taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Self-love is not something you achieve, but a practice that you engage in continually that builds upon itself and becomes easier with time.

Here are some tips to cultivate a sense of self-love:

Notice your self-talk

If you were to read a script of the dialogue you have with yourself in your head, what would the overarching theme be? Are you being compassionate and loving towards yourself, even when you make mistakes? Or, do you find yourself pointing out the things you have done wrong, what you are unhappy with yourself for, or what you want to change about yourself?

Many people struggle with an “inner critic”, or a loud internal voice that judges, criticizes, or blames themselves. It can become so automatic that many people don’t realize they are doing it. The key to replacing your inner critic with a more compassionate form of self-talk is first to notice your negative thought patterns. What negative messages is your inner critic sending to you? Then, you can work to stop and replace those negative thoughts with more compassionate and loving thoughts. For example, your inner critic might say something like “I got frustrated with my baby again today. I am such a bad Mom. She would be better off with a different parent”. A more kind and realistic thought might be “I got frustrated with my baby today. That’s ok. I’m still learning how to manage the emotions that come with parenting, and it’s really hard. I am going to try to respond differently next time I get overwhelmed”.

While it seems simple, this is a big shift, and it takes time to change the way your brain is used to thinking. A good indicator if your self-talk is critical is to identify if you would talk to a best friend, loved one, or your child this way. If not, it may be helpful to explore why you are talking to yourself this way, and to work on being kinder towards yourself.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries let other people know the way we want to be treated. Setting boundaries is an important part of cultivating self-love because it creates the expectations for what you will and will not do or accept. Setting boundaries can look a lot of different ways, and it may take some reflection to learn where you want to set boundaries in your life and to practice doing this. For parents of little ones, it is especially important to set boundaries so that you can have time to take care of yourself, another important aspect of cultivating self-love.

For more tips on how to set boundaries, read on here.

Practice forgiving yourself for mistakes

As humans, we are inevitably going to make mistakes. This may show up in relationships, as parents, at work, and in other areas of life. Instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, recognize it as a mistake, and work towards forgiving yourself. Remember, good people make mistakes. Doing something wrong doesn’t make you a bad person. You can hold yourself accountable for your actions and still be kind and forgiving towards yourself. This can help create a sense of self-love moving forward and to also help you to let go of guilt and blame for mistakes you have made in the past.

Beware of comparison

One of the biggest barriers to cultivating self-love is engaging in comparison. This is a common inhibitor to cultivating self-love, especially when social media is involved. Keep in mind that social media often only shows us the positive side of things, and isn’t a full picture of someone else’s struggles.

If you notice yourself engaging in comparison, try to refocus on what your personal strengths are, what you like about yourself, and what you are grateful for. When we stay grounded in the positive aspects of ourselves and our lives, we move away from self-doubt and closer to acceptance and celebration of where we are.

To go deeper we suggest “Letting Go of Comparison in Postpartum”

Follow through on commitments to yourself

A less common but extremely important aspect of self-love is self-trust. A great way to cultivate self-love is to focus on trusting yourself, and trust is built by following through on commitments. It’s hard to trust other people when they say they are going to do something and then don’t follow through, and this same principle applies in our relationships with ourselves.

When you are setting goals for yourself, think about creating goals that are small, measurable, and achievable. This can increase your ability to follow through, and help build a sense of trust and pride in yourself. If you don’t reach your goals, try to identify what barriers got in the way instead of letting your inner critic tell you that you’ve failed. This way, you can modify your goals to be more realistic and attainable, and increase your likelihood of being able to follow through in the future.

Strive for progress and celebrate your successes

Another way that people get trapped in self-doubt is by striving for perfection instead of progress. No one is perfect, and if you are holding yourself to a standard of perfection you will continually be disappointed.

Instead, focus on progress, and celebrate the ways that you are constantly learning and growing. One helpful trick for noticing progress is to zoom out, and notice your successes and growth in the bigger picture. In postpartum, this may look like your growth in being able to identify and meet your baby’s needs, or all of the things you have learned along the way. There is something to be proud of every day, the key is to look for it, notice it, and celebrate it, rather than missing your growth in the search for perfection.

Cultivating self-love takes time and practice. For most people, you are not only practicing new habits and ways of thinking, but trying to let go of old patterns that may be deeply ingrained. It may be beneficial to speak with a mental health professional if you are struggling with low self-esteem, perfection, or lack of motivation to engage in small daily goals. Focusing on these tips, as well as taking care of yourself physically and mentally, will go a long way in creating a fulfilling relationship with yourself.

This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.

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