Self-Love. A guide to loving yourself.

Title graphic with a woman holding a large orange heart close to her chest. Words say Love Yourself, A guide to Self-Love

Self-Love. This is probably something I have struggled with the most. It can take on different meanings, from your body to your mind. The question is, do you love yourself? What do you love about yourself?

I was recently listening to a Locatoras Radio podcast episode about this and what resonated with me the most was that self-love is often misunderstood as self-care. Getting your nails done and scheduling a massage once fed the love you have for yourself, but deep down the true meaning is how you treat yourself beyond those luxuries.

Since I have struggled with most of my life, I thought it would be a good time to unpack this. Especially during the month of love, we are constantly inundated with these messages of what love “should” look like.

Title graphic with a woman holding a large orange heart close to her chest. Words say Love Yourself, A guide to Self-Love

Self-Love vs. Self-Care

An article in Psych Central defines Self-Love as loving yourself fully, treating yourself with kindness and respect, and nurturing your growth and well-being. It not only includes what you do but also what you THINK about yourself. Our brain processes around 70,000 thoughts a day, how many of them are negative thoughts about yourself? 

Self-Care is taking care of your needs, often promoted as taking more baths with bath bombs, or my favorite, getting your nails done. It often doesn’t go deeper than that. Self-Care tends to be more on the surface, something you DO to take care of yourself.

How to practice Self-Love

As a first-gen Latina, this concept is new for me. Growing up I didn’t have many models practicing self-love. In fact, quite the opposite. The women in our family were often praised or expected to sacrifice their own well-being for that of their partners or children. 

Being in my 40s now, there is a lot of unlearning I am having to do in order to truly embrace loving myself. One thing I learned, is that it needs to be practiced DAILY. 

Here are some things that are helping me on my journey toward self-love and could help you make self-love a part of your lifestyle.

Therapy

I am a big proponent of therapy. It’s important to find a therapist that you connect with and feel truly understands you. To me, it’s important that my therapist is a woman of color. From experience, I found that if I couldn’t connect with my therapist a lot of my insecurities prevented me from doing the deep work needed to connect to the negative self-talk that was preventing me from loving myself more. 

Journaling for Self-Love

Taking a few minutes each day to write out what you’re experiencing helps you examine your thoughts. Any type of journaling helps. I found this free challenge from the Passion Planner really helpful. It gives you 7 days of journal prompts specifically about self-love. 

Affirmations about Self-Love

At first, affirmations feel uncomfortable especially if you have trouble receiving compliments from other people. Over time, it feels empowering. Practice saying something like “soy poderosa” while putting on your lipstick or hoop earrings. 

Mindfulness

Along with taking the time to breathe, practicing mindfulness regularly helps with your well-being. It helps you channel the negative thoughts away by focusing on your breath or just clearing your mind. I find this especially helpful when my day is super busy and I feel overwhelmed! 

Nourishment 

This has been HUGE for me in my self-love practice. I have been really intentional with my food and drinks. For anyone who knows me, coffee was part of what defined me. After taking my health seriously, I learned that coffee and certain foods were making me sick. Part of self-love is accepting this kind of information and changing hurtful practices. 

Moving my body

Exercise is important for your physical health but also key to mental health. It helps you release endorphins and the chemicals that give you energy and combat negative thoughts. It also helps you love your body because you see just what it can do and how good it feels afterward. 

This isn’t always easy to prioritize, but it helps me to take at least a 30-minute walk every day if I can. 

Setting Boundaries 

I am still working on this one. I struggled SO much with this in my home, family, and my work. With time and practice, saying “no” and understanding what your boundaries are is essential to self-love. Identifying what your non-negotiables are in key areas of your life is a true testament to focusing on your wellness. 

So, ask yourself, what bothers me and why? Is there a boundary I can identify and who needs to know about this boundary? 

Being in Community

Paying close attention to what you love about yourself also means paying attention to those that don’t want you to change. It’s time to get rid of the toxic friends and family members that find joy in bringing your down. Self-love means you are surrounding yourself with people that believe in your shine! 

This could either be through friendships, coaching programs, or joining an organization that aligns with your values. I participated in the Courage Driven Latina (then known as Purpose Driven Latina) group coaching program and it helped me see that it was OK to prioritize yourself. 

Woman sitting on a bench watching the sunset. Meant to be reflecting on self-love.
Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

My Reflection on Self-Love

I have spent so much time focusing on self-care and being mad at myself for not doing enough of it, what I didn’t realize was I was really missing self-love. At this stage of my life, I can look back and see how much time I wasted thinking I wasn’t good enough, seeking perfection, and people-pleasing. Through the practices above, I am confident in saying that focusing on self-love has become a priority and those negative thoughts are fewer than before. 

I hope this helps you on your journey toward wellness. Self-care is important but let’s not neglect self-love. Share this with an amiga, and tell me how you are going to prioritize your self-love!

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