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59 Surprising Ways to Show Yourself Love

It's about soooo much more than a soak in the tub.

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The actual meaning of “self care” and “self love” have become somewhat lost amid talk of long soaks in the tub and other superficial comforts. Although the phrases are often used interchangeably, they are separate, although not unrelated, things.

While there’s nothing wrong with comforts, self love asks more of us than that. Self care is an expression of self love. Which means for there to be self care, there must be self love.

What Exactly Is Self Love?

Learning to love ourselves isn’t always an easy venture, although it can be approached in somewhat simple components.

Letting Yourself Be Seen

Think of loving yourself as allowing yourself to become a truer version of yourself. You may need to search for it, but it is always there.

Loving yourself starts with seeing yourself and allowing yourself to be seen by others. Isn’t this what we’re all asking of each other? As we accumulate years, we also accumulate layer upon layer of residue from interactions we’ve experienced, beliefs we’ve absorbed, judgments others have placed on us (and that we’ve placed on ourselves), as well as mistakes we believe we’ve made. With time, we start to distance ourselves from the love that we seek from others and from within. Consider how often our sense of lack—of love, of worth, of fulfillment—arises when we don’t feel seen.

Making Room to Try Again

Loving yourself also means allowing yourself to have room to work on things and not get it right and try again. This calls for curiosity, patience, compassion, and bravery. Every person has difficult emotions and challenging aspects of themselves, things that feel hard to look at and sort through. Nobody is alone in that.

But nothing can be grown, nurtured, or transformed without first accepting ourselves as we are. You are worthy of love as you are, despite any feelings you might experience to the contrary.

It is always easier to distract or numb yourself rather than process your feelings. But there is power in sitting with discomfort, anxiety, anger, and heartbreak. Each of those emotions has something to teach you. Giving yourself space to feel what you feel without judgment is self love. With practice, you can find forgiveness, care, warmth, and understanding for yourself, even in those moments when you feel you don’t deserve it. (You do.)

Offer Yourself Grace

Only when we learn to give ourselves grace and patience as we move through life can we learn how to love ourselves better. We can begin to seek and understand our fears and judgments toward ourselves and offer new perspectives on those unloved parts of ourselves. We can ask ourselves questions that take us to their origin. Every layer that you shed brings you closer to yourself. To love yourself more, to love the world more, you need to approach yourself with gentleness, forgiveness, patience, and acceptance.

The source of love is always found within and not in anything outside of you. All of the love that you feel for anything in your life comes from the same place in you. When you work on love in one part of your life, the love in other parts of your life expands. Start with yourself.

And What Is Self-Care?

When you’ve begun to see and think of yourself in a loving way, you can start to take actions that remind you of your love for yourself. Doing things that express self love may include things you do for your own comfort, gifts you bestow upon yourself,  even things you say “no” to.  

But they can also remind you of your love for yourself. Consider the following self-caring ways to be reminders when you need to come back to self love.

Self care as an expression of self love can be…

Listening to your body. Not holding judgment against your body, your being, your spirit.

Forgiving yourself for ways you may have hurt others. Forgiving yourself for allowing behavior you didn’t deserve. Forgiving yourself for not knowing any better. Forgiving yourself for how you acted when you weren’t loving yourself.

Buying yourself flowers.

Learning to set boundaries. Following through on those boundaries by saying no to things and persons that are harmful to your body or spirit.

Choosing quiet. Opting for silence instead of Netflix. Turning off your phone. Taking breaks from social media.

Being in nature. Going on a walk at sundown with your dog. Going for a run when you know you need to—even when you don’t want to.

Moving your body when it feels stiff. Moving your body when it wants to dance.

Beginning to search for yourself. Giving yourself space to begin to know who you are. Healing your inner child. Going to therapy.

Meditating for 20 minutes, 10 minutes, even 5 minutes. Practicing loving-kindness meditation.

Doing what feels right. Not doing what doesn’t feel right.

Quieting yourself enough to hear your intuition. Trusting your intuition when you hear it.

Reading a Mary Oliver poem.

Developing awareness to be less reactive. Not projecting so much onto others. Being vulnerable with the right people.

Holding yourself accountable. Washing the dishes even when you don’t want to.

Laughing with your friends. Confiding in your friends. Supporting your friends. Being a friend to your own self.

Being kinder to yourself on all levels.

Letting go.

Knowing how to be gentle, courageous, firm, and understanding with yourself and others. No longer allowing mistreatment of yourself by yourself or others.

Taking a breath.

Living your worth. Showing up for yourself. Putting yourself first when that is right.

Being with your emotions. Being a witness to yourself rather than holding onto every feeling or thought.

Living in the now. Knowing better and doing better.

Understanding that you are only ever in control of yourself.

Living a life that feels aligned.

Loving others. Allowing others to love you as you are right now. Loving yourself whether or not you feel loved by others.

About Our Contributor

Emery Allen is a writer and florist working out of Cleveland, Ohio. She has self published multiple books of poetry and her writing has been shared across the world. She is passionate about connection, mindfulness, and self-reflection. Follow her on Instagram @byemeryallen.

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