How to Start Cultivating Self-Love
Do we accept the love we think we deserve?
In the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is a scene in which the protagonist asks his professor about why we pick people who treat us like we’re nothing, and his professor answers: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
I believe we do. I’ve experienced this in my own life. Over the course of many years, I can clearly see how my external experiences always mirrored how I felt about myself. It was reflected in my relationships, lack of boundaries, in how I treated my body, habits I engaged in, and certainly in the way I talked to myself.
How we see and feel about ourselves is the foundation from which we form other relationships and how we move through life. It is the most important relationship to focus on because there is no escaping from yourself. You are the one that will be there for yourself in every single moment, so you get to choose how you want to be there for yourself: in a judgmental, self-shaming way or in a more understanding, accepting, and compassionate way.
If, like me, you grew up in a home where love and kindness weren’t freely shared and where criticism and judgment were abundant, your mind is likely not a nurturing place to refuge in due to deep and negative beliefs you learned about yourself. But this can be changed.
Here’s how to begin cultivating a more loving relationship with yourself.
Ask yourself: What would a person who loves themself think, say, or do? Pay attention to how the answer differs from what you are currently thinking, saying, or doing. How would your life change if you were more compassionate and loving towards yourself?
If self loves feel like a big leap from where you are, start with self-acceptance. If that feels like a challenge, start with self-compassion, or self-neutrality, or self-observation, or self-understanding. You get the point. Whatever is the next most doable step in your journey, is the right step for you. And once you master that step, you can move on to the next one. Just keep on building and keep soaking in and celebrating any movements forward! No growth is too small!