Self-love has become the most popular hashtag on the internet and on social media in the past years: everyone is posting pictures of their candle-lit bubble baths with champagne and strawberries, pedicure date with their girl friends and massages… but truly loving our Self goes much deeper than the surface level of pampering our bodies. Of course, it includes that, too. But despite the fragrant bubble baths and all, suicide is still a leading cause of death (globally, more than war, homicide, malaria, HIV, or breast cancer). For me that is a real alarming sign that most people do not actually love who they are. We need to dig deeper than this.
Self-love also means knowing and accepting yourself, improvement and growth. This is a 24/7 work which includes us and our relationships—with ourselves and everyone else, too. It is something we do at home, but also on the streets, at work, when we go out with our friends, on a date and even after a break up or the loss of someone close to us. Self-love is a life-long journey that we practice all the time, on our good days and on our bad days as well. Because if you really love someone, you love them on their bad days too, so why should you not show love for your own self the time you need it the most?
Luckily, there are some signs that tell us if we are doing self-love the right way, connecting to our selves deeply and authentically, and not only on a surface level.
I collected these signs on a list along with a few Ayurvedic tips that help us to show more love to ourselves.
- You know what you’re worth and what you deserve
This was one of the biggest A-ha moment for me. I always struggled with knowing my own value and not settling for less then what I wanted. It showed in various ways in every part of my life: staying in toxic work environments, accepting way less salary than anyone should for that work, accepting manipulations from friends and family, dating emotionally unavailable men… It all comes from lack of self-love and self-respect, but once you really start to heal this wound it will be natural to not settle for less than you deserve.
- You fill up your own cup first
If you ever learned first aid, or just took a flight somewhere you probably heard that before helping anyone else, you should help yourself—make sure you are safe, put your own oxygen mask on first, etc. You won’t be able to help anyone else if you get injured or pass out while trying to help others. It works the same way in everyday life. How can you show up for others if you do not show up for yourself? I had to learn it isn’t selfish to take a bite from my own sandwich before I offer it to my boyfriend, or I show myself some love and cocoon for a while to handle my own upset emotions before I am able to support my friend with her divorce. Once my own cup is filled, I will be able to serve others better as well. There should be a healthy balance maintained as well, it isn’t healthy to always prioritize yourself, nor to be a people pleaser.
- You say “no” more often
This kind of originates from the first 2 points, but you’ll naturally will find yourself saying “no” more often. When I lacked self-love, I used to say “yes” to many things to which I really wanted to say “no.” I stopped feeling ashamed for choosing my self, my peace and my sanity over pleasing others, trying to keep peace with someone, letting others manipulate me into doing things I do not wish to do and many more, I’m sure you know your own examples well. We have to normalize that saying “no” is not a bad thing and you do not need to provide a “good enough” reason either.
- You judge yourself less
Since I learned to love and respect myself, I also noticed that I am way less judgmental towards myself. Not long ago I’d beat up myself for crying for no reason, losing my temper or feeling depressed, taking out a full week on my period or not meeting my (usually unrealistic) expectations. I learned to honor my own feelings and sit with them, I learned to respect my body’s cycles and live by them, I came to accept my human nature and work with it as best as I can at the given moment. It’s all part of life, we aren’t robots who have to do everything perfectly all the time. By the way, even machines make mistakes…
- You accept impermanence
The bad news is: nothing in life lasts forever. Now, the good news is the same. Most people struggle to accept immortality of beings and things. But this is something that is entirely out of our control. This came really handy when I was learning to deal with my emotions and working to make myself emotionally open and available. The loss of things can cause us to shut our hearts down and not let anyone close, but the same time, these feelings and emotional states won’t last forever either. Also, I came to experience my own immortality and understood that nothing in life we do is for the future. We only have the now moment. Your life is now, your growth is now, you need your own love now and not tomorrow or when you reach your goal weight or get your degree or get married or whatever…
- You become a better version of yourself
With self-love comes a great amount of growth and inner-work (even if you’re not aware of it) which will result in major changes in your personality. You might not notice it right away, as it is a slow unfolding process and change has the habit to be more visible retrospectively anyways. Some ways how this can look is becoming more empathic towards others, being more patient and understanding, you stop victimizing yourself and taking the blame out on others, or not engaging in arguments as often.
As with everything else, you’ll get better at loving yourself the more you practice it. Be brave and bold, and dive deeper in the ocean of your love for your own Self. In the end, no one else will be there for you during your whole life but you— why not make friends with yourself and give yourself all the love you really need? It will reflect back from the outside world as well.
Also by Imola: 4 Affordable Ways To Practice Ayurveda For Vitality
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Photo: Dakota Corbin via Unsplash