When I first started seriously dating, I would do everything I could to make the other person happy. I genuinely believed his happiness equated to my happiness, or at least my contempt. That was far from the case. The more I sacrificed my own needs, the further and further I withdrew into an entirely different person. I became enveloped in trying to be what I considered was “the perfect girlfriend.” As long as he was happy, I was doing it right. Wrong.
You’ve heard it before, so I’m going to sound redundant when I say, “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” Yet the mind-boggling question is, how does one do this? The whole “fall in love with yourself” thing has never been depicted in a Disney movie, it’s not what’s taught as part of sex ed (though imagine if it was!), and it certainly doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
Unfortunately, falling in love with yourself is something that has to come with a few heartbreaks and mistakes. But fear not: it is possible to learn from those who — like me — have been there already and can help you realize you’re actually your own knight in shining armor. There’s nothing sexier than appreciating who you are — mind, body and soul. So, here’s my love potion for falling in love with yourself.
1. Write a list of what you like about yourself
Yeah, this one may be hard at first. But seriously, when it’s your physical features, personal values, character, demeanor, sense of humor…get to know you! If you don’t love your best qualities, you’ll never actually appreciate what you have to offer in a relationship and your future partner likely won’t either.
2. Identify your interests
What are your hobbies, past times and indulgences? By recognizing all the things that you’re curious about and enjoy, you’ll see that you’re a fascinating person. You’ll also see a huge opportunity for recognizing your own intelligence and passion. Once you know what you love doing, you can actually spend time actively pursuing these activities.
3. Take yourself on dates
You know better than anyone else what you like to do, so go do them. Maybe you like going to an arcade playing games all night or you want do slam poetry. Enjoy cooking? Take a culinary course. Indulge in yourself and recognize that your curiosity is what makes you not only incredibly unique but especially intriguing.
4. Allow yourself to feel fully
If you can’t have fun or laugh with yourself, it’s likely that most relationships you have are filling a void of neglected self-worth. I know this because I’ve been there. When you start living in the moment and having fun with yourself, you’re nourishing your soul. On the flip side, your anger, sadness, stress and relative emotions are just as important to dive into. If we’re not able to self-soothe and sit with our feelings, we’ll be constantly depending on someone else to tell us how we feel is okay. But you, and you alone, are the person that can decide whether your feelings are validated.
5. Be kind to your body
Our bodies take a lot of crap. We’re often body shaming, eating poorly, or not exercising. Even simple hygiene is a huge sign of self care. We’ve been given these incredible vessels to take us through the course of our lives yet we often treat ourselves as if we’re disposable. Negative thoughts turn into negative actions. Talk kindly to yourself and practice self-compassion on days when you feel less than stellar. Most importantly, by treating your body with upmost respect, you declare to the world that as a human being, you matter and that you love yourself.
At the end of the day, it won’t matter what you did or how successful you were. You’ll be measured by how much you loved, and I believe our capacity to love others is largely determined by how much we love ourselves. So go ahead, fall head over heels!