How to cultivate more self-love?

How to cultivate more self-love?

In Self-love sets your relationship standards I tried to explain how self-love is not a prerequisite for being in a relationship, but it is something that is quite helpful. And I wanted to continue on this road of self-love a little bit, to suggest some ways in which you can cultivate more self-love.

Self-love is a super trendy term. You hear about it all over the place in women’s magazines, in personal development, and there is not necessarily one definition on which everyone agrees.

I personally find it difficult to know what each person should do to cultivate more self-love. Do you have to accept yourself, be understanding, have compassion for yourself? When do you have to start pushing yourself to act and kick yourself in the butt?

I wanted to bring my side of the story, which I hope can add something to your own definition of self-love.

And to do that, I’d like to pick up on what I said in the previous article. Personally, I think that when we were born we didn’t have a particular problem in terms of self-love. At the time we were born, we were fully aware of the unique being that we are and that we are worthy of love. There was no doubt about how one should behave or what one should do or be in order to be loved. This lack of self-love, or a difficulty one may have in one’s relationship with oneself, began with the perception one had of how others evaluated and judged one. This perception, as our experiences progressed, evolved and finally became our own inner judge and the inner dialogue that we repeat to ourselves every day.

My definition of self-love is the way we behave towards ourselves, our relationship to ourselves. And that includes what we think about ourselves and how we act and how we commit to ourselves.

I like to use two quotes that are often used for relationships, but which speak to me personally much more for our relationship to ourselves.

The first is that “there is no love, only proof of love”. In concrete terms, this means that if we try to talk positively about ourselves, if we try to have a loving dialogue, but in the end, our actions towards ourselves, towards our bodies, do not follow, it’s a bit like talking into the wind. I draw a parallel with a friend. If you say to this friend, I am your best friend, you can count on me, and every time she calls for help, you are not there, this friend is not going to believe that she can count on you. Well, it’s the same thing with yourself.

The second expression is that “love is never acquired. It has to be nurtured.” Self-love is really about cultivating that relationship with yourself. It’s something that varies over time. And that doesn’t mean that when you’ve reached a certain level of self-love, in another phase of life, it will always be at the same level. It’s something that varies according to what we experience, according to what we say to ourselves and especially how we judge ourselves in relation to the things we do. And that also means that it requires regularity and that it requires maintaining this link. Because according to the emotions we feel, according to the results we obtain in our life, if we don’t like these emotions or these results, the first reflex will be to avoid confrontation, because it hurts too much and we disconnect little by little from our relationship with ourselves. We are a bit “sulking with ourselves”.

For me, self-love encompasses many things. It involves accepting oneself, accepting one’s imperfections, accepting one’s contradictions, accepting one’s doubts, accepting where one is or is not. It means suspending judgment, stopping comparison. It also means congratulating yourself on the things you think you can do, recognising the natural qualities you have, recognising the desires you have and thinking that you have every right to have them. It also means forgiving ourselves if we think we’ve made mistakes and giving ourselves the right to correct them without judging ourselves for having done so. It also means giving yourself time, giving yourself the right not to understand everything right away, to need time to make a decision, to take more time than expected to do something. And above all it means listening to and respecting your needs and committing to yourself.

It’s kind of like the principle of being your best friend. Your best friend will encourage you. When things aren’t going well, you know you can count on her if anything goes wrong. And it is also this best friend who will tell you the truth to your face and suggest that you correct certain behaviours or certain actions.

What does this mean in practice?

There are really three main areas for cultivating more self-love:

  • The first is to decide who we want to be and to act in alignment with the person we want to be, with the values we want to cultivate, whether in the way we speak to ourselves or in the way we act towards ourselves.
  • Then, it’s going to come down to identifying the dialogue we have with ourselves. Personally, sometimes I was shocked by the negative dialogue I could have with myself. The first thing to do is to note it each time we have these thoughts. For me, I do this especially when I feel an uncomfortable emotion and I take a moment for myself to identify what things I’ve said to myself and to see a bit of the whole chain that it creates within you. What is the emotion behind it? How do I then act towards myself or towards others? Often, just being aware of the chain of reactions following your inner dialogue can be a very good first step, because you will measure all the consequences that this rather negative inner dialogue has with regard to you, all the consequences that it can have in your life. Once we’ve identified this, well, it’s the ant’s policy. And to say to ourselves, well, here it is, what is the first thought that I want to tackle and to learn, perhaps at the beginning to simply spot when it comes back. And then offering to say okay, now I’m thinking that. But I rather want to think that, surely. And each time it comes back, to change your thinking. And simply to cultivate this little reflex to put some kind of distance between yourself and the thought you have. And little by little, the dialogue will become more and more loving. For me, the thought that helps me a lot and that I often propose to the people I accompany is “I have decided to be part of my team”, “I have decided to be my best friend”. It’s really a soothing balm because at that moment you remember a best friend, you remember what you would say to that friend who would think that about her.
  • Then, it still requires action, because just changing one’s thoughts was not enough to really change this image of myself. It really requires the awareness that we are and will be the only person who will accompany us to the end of our life and that if we don’t do things for ourselves, we can’t expect others to do it for us. This means keeping our commitments to ourselves. When you say to yourself, “I’m doing something for me,” like “I’m going to meditate every day,” or “I’m going to eat a more balanced diet,” the idea is to really keep your word. It’s better to commit to fewer things, but to keep them, so that our unconscious mind can regain confidence in us. I come back again with the example of the best friend. If you have said to this best friend many times, I promise you, I will come to the appointment, I will do you this favour once, twice, three times, ten times and you don’t keep your word, you can be sure that this best friend will need some time before she trusts you again and before she thinks she can count on you. Well, it’s the same for yourself.

I would say that it’s even more important if you have a malicious dialogue with your body or if you’ve been in the habit of not respecting your body’s needs. I have a history of bulimia. There were times when I ate much more than my body needed. I was in disrespect of my body and so it’s not just my unconscious that lost confidence in me. It was also my body that lost confidence in me. When the body loses confidence in us, it often needs to react in the form of an alarm bell. Because the sweet little cries it sent us, we don’t hear them. So it has learned its lesson. It goes more through the small warning signals. It will immediately have strong reactions that you can feel through illnesses, body dysfunctions and especially through quite strong emotional reactions. And to reconcile with your body, you have to love yourself and that means learning to respect and honour your body’s needs, whether it’s its need for hydration, its need for sleep, its need to eat a balanced diet, its need to move and to keep this commitment over time so that your body will say to itself ah she’s taking care of me, so I can trust her again. A simple way to do this is to ask your body the question “How is it doing?” during the day, every two or three hours, as if you were talking to someone, you can also ask it “What do you need?” This may sound super crazy to most of you. I assume so, but you’ll see that there’s a dialogue that will start to take place with your body. You’re going to realize that you may actually be more emotionally stressed than you thought or there are emotions that you didn’t think you would feel or you’re going to realize that maybe in the middle of the day, after eating, you’re a little more tired. All this will help you to reconnect and recreate this relationship of trust with your body. It’s something that takes time and the effect of small steps, small changes that you make will make a difference. Another thing you can do with your body, which may seem very simple, but is very effective if you do it with full awareness, is to practice self-massage. Because when you massage yourself, you produce oxytocin and it’s like saying to your body I love you. And this is really a feeling that is real and I strongly recommend you to do it with full awareness, appreciating each part of your body for what it does for you. Because it is really a dialogue of love that you will start to cultivate towards your body and consequently towards yourself.

Link to the self-love meditation:

For you


Sign up now for my newsletter and receive a meditation to develop more love and compassion for yourself.

* Mandatory fields

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will also receive offers. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please read myprivacy policy (german only), to see how I process data.

  • To receive my love advice, subscribe to my newsletter.
  • And finally, if you’re ready to open up to love and transform your love life, I invite you to join my Individual Coaching.