When a friend comes to you with a problem, what do you do? Are you supportive and understanding, or do you tell them to stop complaining and do better?
You act kindly, of course, but what if you had the same problem? I’m betting you’d be more strict with yourself than you were with your friend.
If we occasionally treated our loved ones the way we repeatedly treat ourselves, they wouldn’t like us very much.
Why is it so hard to treat yourself like someone you love?
5 (Or So) Ways To Treat Yourself Like Someone You Love
We’re taught that discipline and rules are what it takes to succeed, but the opposite may be true.
Being hard on yourself isn’t going to push you to do your best – it’s self-care that inspires you to thrive.
Being compassionate with yourself doesn’t mean being indulgent and getting carried away, throwing all your responsibility to the wind – it means doing what’s best for you.
Like everything that matters, this is easier said than done. The key is to take it day by day.
Every time you recognize the signs that you need to chill, practice your intent to treat yourself like someone you love.
So, how do you do it?
1. Love yourself
To treat yourself like someone you love is the shortcut to loving yourself. So before you begin this journey, you should understand what it entails.
Self-love means being able to see your own value. When you love yourself, you don’t need other people to confirm your own worth.
If getting there seems intimidating or even impossible, start the same way you’d start loving another person: by choosing to.
You don’t fall in love out of the blue – you recognize something loveable in a person and open your heart to loving them. In the same manner, you can decide to love yourself.
It takes a long time, and some would say it’s a lifelong journey.
But the good part is, every step of the way, as your love for yourself grows, you gradually become kinder, more loving, and happier in your own skin.
2. Appreciate yourself
Think of all the different things you do every day. If you could have someone else do them for you for one day, would you thank them? Of course, you would, because it’s a lot.
Don’t you deserve the same? The inner voice in charge might be telling you that you should move ahead and never stop, but self-love is what’s going to propel you forward.
Appreciating yourself also means appreciating everyone who helped make you into the person you are today.
If you don’t know how to do it, think about how you’d let your best friend know that you appreciate them.
If you’re clueless about how to do it for yourself, these are the ideas you’ve been looking for:
• Reward your efforts. Get that thing you’ve been eyeing for a while but couldn’t justify buying for yourself. Treat yourself!
(Or if you prefer not to indulge our consumerist society where everyone is trying to sell you something or steal your personal data, pamper yourself by taking a walk in nature or playing with a pet.)
• Thank yourself. Straight up say “thanks!” At first, it might feel weird, but if you’re specific about what you’re thanking yourself for, it will start feeling normal.
You can also show your gratitude through positive self-affirmations.
• Pay yourself a compliment. Can you accept a compliment? If you don’t know how to do it, get a notebook and write down one thing you should be complimented on every day.
After a while, you’ll be surprised about how many nice things you have to say about yourself.
• Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. All of these basics are what we skimp on when it comes to ourselves.
Don’t let your inner child play games all night, sleep all day, and eat only ice cream.
• Do something you love. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, forget about everyone else, and show yourself you care by doing your favorite thing that you never find the time for.
• Be thoughtful. Admit it, you sometimes forget your own birthday, but all your family members get calls and gifts. You deserve the same amount of thought that you give others.
Don’t neglect your own life.
• Celebrate your accomplishments. It’s not bragging to be happy about something you’ve achieved. It could be finishing a project at work or working on self-improvement.
Either way, you deserve acknowledgment.
3. Forgive yourself
Small missteps and big mistakes, they’re all in the past. Beating yourself up stops you from moving forward as you’re paralyzed in fear of repeating them.
Forgive yourself, make it up to anyone who may have been affected, learn from it, and move on.
This is hard to do. Dwelling on poor decisions and regretting your choices is as human as breathing.
This is why thinking of yourself as a loved one works so well. You already know how to be kind – now you only have to show it to yourself.
Example: You did a bad presentation at work, and your boss wasn’t happy with it. There’s nothing you can do about it now, but it eats at you and gives you anxiety.
You wouldn’t give your spouse in the same situation a hard time. You wouldn’t tell them that sleepless nights are what they deserve.
You’d tell them that it’s OK to be worried, but to accept it and to do better next time.
Give yourself a chance to make different choices.
4. Get to know yourself
Get in touch with your feelings. You’d want to know someone you love, right?
Most of the time, we don’t examine what we feel or why but simply keep going. When it comes to bad feelings, we tend to sweep them under the rug because introspection is hard.
You could say that it’s even harder than it seems, but it’s so rewarding. Once you start understanding how you feel and why, dealing with your feelings becomes much easier.
If you need help doing it, there are several resources.
• See a therapist. Talking to a professional isn’t only for people who are struggling with something. It’s helpful for everyone to have someone impartial to listen and guide you.
• Write. You can try journaling or stream of consciousness writing. The insight you can get if you do it candidly is incredible.
You’ll be able to make a collection of your own motivational quotes, custom-made for yourself.
• Self-help literature. This includes podcasts, audiobooks, and other formats. For the topic of self-love, check out 12 Rules for Life by therapist and author Jordan Peterson and works by Adam Roa, the spoken word artist and motivational speaker.
• Practice spirituality. Whatever you believe in, having a spiritual component of any kind in your life helps you define your values and what’s important.
• Get out of your comfort zone. Nothing can shock you into learning who you are, like putting yourself in a situation that’s beyond your expectations and what you’re used to.
When you learn how you tick, you’ll have a much easier time loving yourself.
5. Accept yourself
Whatever you may discover on your journey towards loving yourself, you need to learn to accept it – your good qualities and those you don’t like.
No matter who you are, the longest relationship in your life is with yourself. If you can’t embrace yourself, you’re going to spend a long time with someone you wouldn’t choose to accompany you on your path.
To accept yourself means being aware of your worth and at peace with your strengths and weaknesses.
Self-acceptance is hard, but we’ve said that about everything we’ve mentioned so far. So how do you go about it?
By taking it one day at a time, being mindful, and approaching it in such a way that you treat yourself like someone you love.
• Personal development. You might not be who you want to be. Can you change that? Working on yourself is part of the journey to self-love, and you will forever stay a work in progress.
• Flaws. Remember that you’re only human and what it means: we’re imperfect, but we’re still beautiful. Everyone loves, yearns, and struggles. This shared experience of flaws and feelings is human life.
• Understanding. Be kind to yourself, but don’t beat yourself up if you stumble. Take note, and continue. Treating yourself like someone you love means showing yourself understanding.
• Compassion. Often what you would consider compassion when directed at others, you might think of as feeling sorry for yourself when directed at yourself.
Thinking of yourself as a loved one might help with this.
• Perfectionism. Let go of perfectionism. You might think of it as a personality trait, and it’s just the way you are, but it’s learned behavior.
In the same way, you can learn to give yourself a break and accept yourself.
• Respect. Don’t put yourself down. Whatever you might think of yourself, show yourself the same courtesy you would someone you love.
Being hard on yourself discourages you, and being mean to yourself can defeat you.
• Positivity. Find a way to look at yourself in a positive way. Surround yourself with good vibes. Look for motivation in inspirational quotes .
Ask for support.
• Welcoming. Your value as a person doesn’t hang on your traits and actions.
Past mistakes and things you don’t like about yourself don’t define you. Accepting them is your way to progress.
So What Now?
Loving yourself is a lifelong journey towards happiness, but finding a way to start can be a challenge. If you’ve been through a lot, it may even seem impossible.
This is why the approach where you treat yourself like someone you love can be so useful.
Instead of wondering and wandering, it’s almost like finding a way around your insecurities and knowing the answer.
The things we talked about in this article are all long-term projects. They’re split into easier-to-tackle smaller parts, so if you choose to do one of them a day, you’re already ahead.
They’re ideas to use when you want to work harder, but when you realize you’re being hard on yourself and need a quick check, just ask yourself: are you treating yourself like a loved one?
If you persist in practicing kindness to yourself, you’ll soon be able to say that you love yourself.