Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You're Worth Loving: 6 Practices to Cultivate Self-Love

In a recent post, Missy (who struggles with anorexia) talked about how she can love other people, but finds it practically impossible to love herself.  I can't say that I was surprised to read this -- I would guess that the majority, if not all, of the people who battle eating disorders have difficulty viewing themselves in a positive light.  After all, eating disorders are defined by abusive of self.

I also struggle with loving myself.  I can't say that I do.  I don't know if I ever have.  However, I'm working on it.  And . . . I'm making progress.  It's difficult to recognize the thoughts that disparage my self, let alone combat them, but I try.

Missy asked her readers how they cultivate a sense of self-love.  After thinking about that question and leaving a lengthy response on her blog, I thought that I'd devote a post to the same topic here.  So, based on my own experience grappling with the self-hating hell that is an eating disordered life, here are the ways that I practice self-love.

  • spending time with God (I read The Message version of the Bible, which is much more blunt about how God feels about us, and it always brings me to tears with passages like Ephesians 5:1 — “Mostly what God does is love you”)

  • being mindful about negative self-talk, and replacing it with self-loving thoughts and affirmations

  • loving myself for my self, not my body or my productivity or my mood or my job

  • taking time to do something that I truly love, that makes me come alive (and while exercise makes me feel good, it is not my passion in life, and I doubt it’s most over-exerciser’s true passion, if they’re honest)

  • doing what I need to do for my health, even if I don’t like it or don't want to or I'm afraid of it

  • spending time with other people, especially other people who love me — their love shows me that I am indeed loveable, and that helps lead to self-love

This is by no means an exhaustive list of practices that, if used over time (and that's the key -- this will take time), will cultivate self-love.  I dream of the day when women will not be afflicted by eating disorders and negative body image and low self-esteem, as so many of us are now.  And since I definitely don't have all the answers, I must ask -- how do you cultivate love for your self?

(Oh, and in case you were wondering -- the ants are gone.  :) )

"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well." ~ Philippians 1: 9


  1. SO GLAD the ants are gone! :)

    And glad for your "6 practice" reminders. I have a horrible time with the last two. But I try to have compassion for my un-socialness. Not everyone is social, and that is OK. Part of it is time constraints too, and me/God comes first. But there is a part of me that is ashamed to be around people, and frankly I have a hard time relating to anyone. And I can't stand to make small talk when there is this massive "elephant" in the room which is my current ED state. :( blarg.

    Anyways, some little ways I show myself love are to let myself take a long shower and not feel bad about it...even though its totally not eco-friendly. Also, I try to really stick to my guns about my personal/work schedule, so it doesn't get off balance too much, and I have time here and there to do things I yesterday canning cherry jam. :)

  2. Yay for canning!

    Ugh I totally am with you on the small talk, though -- it sucks, regardless of the presence of any elephants. I just get awkward, say something stupid, feel even stupider, and eventually just shut up and wander away. Eek.

  3. Give your best that the only thing you can do, s you try to love others more than yourself, that's we call a sacrificial love. God bless you.

  4. [...] Perhaps it’s time to make an identity portrait for myself, to remind me of who I really am, and how precious I am, especially in God’s eyes.  Not to mention continuing to work on my self-love practices! [...]

  5. [...] Perhaps it’s time to make an identity portrait for myself, to remind me of who I really am, and how precious I am, especially in God’s eyes.  Not to mention continuing to work on my self-love practices! [...]

  6. I've been trying to work on these everyday and so far the discipline and practice of it is so helpful. Thanks so much for your insight.

  7. That's SO great to hear, Missy. Much love.

  8. Great list, Beth! I can think of only one thing to add to it, and it's an offshoot of replacing negative self-talk with positive: Forgive yourself. We're all bound to mess up sooner or later, and we need to forgive ourselves when we do.

    I'm glad your ants are gone too. :)

  9. Yes, you're so right -- self-forgiveness is key. And hard. Dang it. ;)

  10. So true! Unlike God, we can't just cast things into the sea of forgetfulness, so we have to keep forgiving as an act of our will. As many times as it takes to "take." :)

  11. No sois derecho. Soy seguro. Discutiremos.



"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King