It’s one of those weird sayings that we sometimes nod in agreement with, but we don’t really understand how to implement in real life: You must learn to love yourself before you can love someone else. Certainly, our insecurities are capable of immense destruction to ourselves and to our relationships with others. Learning how to view one’s own body, mind, and character with forgiveness and appreciation is a valuable lesson that carries over into platonic, familial, and romantic relationships. We have to live with ourselves for our entire lives, so it’s important that we learn to think of ourselves as a friend.
How do you make friends with yourself? First of all, you have to spend time with you –– deliberately. So often, we are terrified of being alone with our own thoughts, and we distract ourselves from moments of potential reflection by grabbing our phones or consuming noisy media, drowning out that inner voice. When you learn to be alone and enjoy your own company, you will discover a life-long friend who will literally always be with you.
Secondly, like any good friend, you have to learn about yourself, and you have to genuinely care. Get to know your true personality and interests. Encourage yourself when it comes to pursuing the things that make you thrive, and be honest with yourself about the things that don’t. Listen to your gut feelings. Earn your own trust and respect, so you can push yourself to seek out the healthy challenges you need in order to grow.
Thirdly, it’s important that you take care of your own self, whether that means simply setting a schedule for adequate sleep, rejuvenating exercise, and nourishing meals, or even completely spoiling yourself with things you know you really want but would never tell anyone else.
If you are struggling with a serious self-esteem issue, you might need to actively seek out therapy or begin forming new habits, such as only speaking to yourself with positive words. A quote by Marcia Hutchinson often comes to mind when I start to unnecessarily demean myself: “If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you’d have no friends left.” Needless to say, it’s important that you learn to take care of yourself.
Once you understand the importance of these approaches in relating to yourself, you will be better equipped to relate to others and to create healthy relationships as opposed to harmful ones. Learn to love your own skin –– you’ll be living in it for the rest of your life!