Self-love: how do you love yourself?

Self-love: how do you love yourself?

© Stefaniya Gutovska /

Self-love How to learn to love yourself

Love yourself! Accept your weaknesses! Embrace your inner child! All this is written in many guidebooks today. Self-love is the word of the hour – and admittedly, it sounds great and like "I want to do it too.

But how on earth are you supposed to love yourself while you’re constantly stumbling across great people with gorgeous lives on the web? People who suggest to you that such a normal average thing is something to be ashamed of? Isn’t unconditional self-love a bit much to ask??

What is self-love anyway?

Self-love. Actually quite simple: Love your own self as it is. Love yourself unreservedly, with all your flaws and faults, for better or worse. The way you do it, with people you love! It’s okay to be angry or annoyed with them, but at the end of the day you love them anyway. Or just because.

But when it comes to one’s own self, it falls with the "all flaws and faults" accept unfortunately not easy at all. Too high the demand! And too much the artificial flawlessness shines in your face, of which some want to make you believe it really exists. You only have to invest a tiny bit in your self-optimization and poof – you belong to the select circle of the beautiful and desirable. So you have it in your own hands whether you are beautiful and sexy. If you don’t participate, it’s your own fault! That’s great! Of course, self-love doesn’t work that way.

Why is self-love so difficult?

Fact is: In the meantime, numerous studies have shown that constant comparison with others makes you unhappy and affects your self-image. Scientists at the Danish Happiness Research Institute, for example, say that if you scroll through the postings of friends, colleagues and celebrities on social networks day after day, you end up feeling envious and inadequate. Freely according to the motto "Hey loser-me, why don’t you sit on the beach and sip cocktails like your neighbor with the great living room furniture??"At the end of the timeline, there would be the sobering realization that everyone has a cool, exciting life, but unfortunately not oneself.

But where is the difference between healthy self-love and the completely exaggerated glorification of one’s own person?? After all, more than a few scientists now speak of an "age of narcissists," in which even adolescents celebrate and stage themselves without limits.

Do not confuse self-love with self-infatuation!

"Narcissism is a conspicuous self-love and exaggerated self-centeredness," explains Anne Heintze, therapist and founder of the Open Mind Academy. "Narcissistic people are primarily concerned with themselves and are not interested in others. They overestimate themselves immeasurably and have an exaggerated attitude of entitlement."

Self-love, on the other hand, is the acceptance of one’s own personality, the acceptance of what and how we are. "Self-love means trusting oneself, respecting oneself, and learning to appreciate one’s own worth. Self-acceptance plays a decisive role," says Heintze.

Laughing at themselves can also make them small

The precise definition of the balancing act between self-love and self-criticism is also important for another reason: Apparently, a great many women today share the concern of coming across as self-loving or even being labeled as narcissistic. For example, British linguistics expert Judith Baxter of Aston University in Birmingham found in a study that men make jokes at the expense of others 90 percent of the time. 70 percent of women, on the other hand, only ever make fun of themselves.

"As absurd as it sounds, this negative talk is actually supposed to have a positive effect," explains personality coach Kim Fleckenstein. This may sound paradoxical at first, but it is evolutionarily anchored in us. In the course of human development, men have long been polarized towards competition with others, while women have always had a more pronounced sense of community. For them, it is important – apparently to this day – to appear less threatening to others and to be able to build as large a community around themselves as possible. Letting others see behind the facade ("I’ve never really been good at giving a presentation") breaks down walls and makes you seem likeable.

Evolution is quite stupid sometimes. Because in this point it makes life unnecessarily difficult for us. If we look at the results of a self-love survey (Women’s Health International), 67 percent of the women surveyed believe that people who love themselves are also perceived more positively by others. Just 3 percent think that people who accept and love themselves come across as arrogant. And 77 percent said they had never been called self-loving by other people. Ergo: Loving yourself is not a crime, but also makes you likeable.

Loving yourself – how does that actually work??

Admittedly, there is no patent remedy that makes it quite easy to immediately rest deeply within yourself and exude love from every pore. But there are a few smart tips that can pave the way for those whose self-love level could still use a little nudge upward. So: Be brave – you are great!

1. Stop comparing yourself

All this self-dramatization on Instagram& Co. sometimes becomes too much for you? Then just unfollow the people who make you feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s because you feel envy rising in you or anger at yourself for maybe not having such a great trained body. Comparisons to celebrities are lame because the image they project online a) is often not entirely genuine and b) does not automatically represent aspirational goals.

Self-love without comparing

2. Don’t strive for perfection

You don’t have to be perfect. Neither for yourself nor for others. Or do you always expect 100 percent from those around you?? Probably not because you know that doesn’t exist. Then why are you so hard on yourself? It’s better to take it easy with the motto: "Perfect is boring, human is beautiful!"

3. Dare to do something

What have you always wanted to do, but have put it on the back burner until now?? No matter what the challenge is – go for it, put all your energy and your heart and soul into it and in the end enjoy the feeling of having achieved your goal, which should not be underestimated!

4. Don’t stack the deck so low

Whether in your resume or in your online dating profile: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. You are someone, you can do something, and everyone is allowed to know that. And please stop putting yourself down right now. Sentences like "I never do anything right" are best left out of your repertoire. Push yourself instead, and praise yourself more often.

5. Take care of yourself

This includes saying no more often, without an explanation afterwards. You don’t feel well and need time for yourself? Then say it, and don’t make excuses. Listen to yourself and your body. This is also self-love.

6. Be who you want to be

Sometimes we don’t like each other very much because we have chosen a path in life that is not our own. Then we suddenly realize that we are in the wrong job or living with the wrong man. And now? Knock everything over, redo everything? The uncomfortable answer is: Probably yes. Go into yourself and ask yourself what you really want from life and what kind of life you would really feel comfortable in. It doesn’t work in a 5-minute brainstorming session, it takes a few weeks or months – and it’s painful. But it’s worth it!

Only those who love themselves can love others – is that true??

A sentence that comes up again and again, especially when it somehow doesn’t want to work out with the great love. "Learn to love yourself first. Then you are also ready to give and receive love." Sounds like wisdom from grandma and somehow a touch spiritual. Is there really anything to it? "That is indeed the case," says therapist Anne Heintze. "Acceptance of yourself is the first step to gaining acceptance from others."

It therefore seems all the more drastic that, according to the above-mentioned survey, a full 60 percent of the participants have already asked themselves how it is that they are loved in their relationship and that someone really wants to be with them. Nearly 20 percent said they have these thoughts all the time. "You don’t have to do favors for others to respect you. You want them to love you for who you are, not for who you are," says the expert. Right as gold!

Self-love is not vain self-indulgence, but accepting your own personality with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies. Accept yourself as you are, then your life will be more beautiful, more relaxed and more honest!

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