From the nearly 13 million mentions of #selflove found on Instagram to the thousands of books, articles, and research papers on the subject, no one can say that self-love has been neglected—at least the concept of it hasn’t.
But putting it into practice? That’s another story altogether.
It’s looking at what we each really need as individuals. It’s accepting differences in how people look at the world—and at themselves. It’s finding ways to make ourselves a priority, each and every day.
To find out how to make self-love a priority in our lives, we spoke to four women who are active in the self-love movement about how they see the purpose (and process) of loving yourself in today’s world: fitness instructor and mom Nadia Murdock; goal-setting coach Kingsley Delacato; wellness coach Lauren Bondi; and singer, YouTuber, and #bootyrevolution founder Meghan Tonjes.
What does self-love mean to you?
Taking care of yourself in a compassionate, non-judgmental way so that you can be the best version of yourself.
From treating yourself every so often [in ways] big and small to be[ing] accepting of the mistakes you may make … honoring your imperfections and avoiding self-judgment or hate is inclusive of what I consider self-love.
Self-love is the thread that weaves all experiences, all emotions, all beings, all lives together. In my opinion, love is the most powerful emotion in our human capacity—and when this is directed inward, we can move mountains.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned that offering myself genuine compassion is not a luxury, but rather a requirement. Self-love means showing up for myself in every season of life and embracing whomever that woman may be. This love is as strong as it is soft. It heals trauma, mends broken hearts, pours light into the pain, quiets fears, ignites passions, manifests dreams, cultivates connection, and—perhaps most importantly—mirrors an undeniable worthiness to take up space in this world.
Self-love to me means knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Realizing that in order to be able to put energy out into the world, I need to give myself the input of energy that I deserve. Giving time to myself and doing things that make me feel like me. When I am practicing self-love, I feel like the truest version of myself.
Self-love is incredibly individual. It doesn’t look the same for any two people. Self-love is actively holding space for yourself, your emotions, your traumas, your desires and practicing kindness and honesty within those.
How do you practice self-love on a daily or weekly basis? How do you integrate it into your life?
Self-love has become a part of who I am, so it’s gotten easier to weave practices into my regular habits. I like to utilize my positive mind cards as often as possible during the week. I pull three cards that will remind me to do things like forgive, smile, and basically enjoy the simple things in life.
I always pat myself on the back if I have done a good job—from teaching a killer barre class to overcoming a fear. I strongly believe small actions in your everyday life will lead to a seamless incorporation of self-love.
In my present chapter … self-love is absolutely a daily necessity. With the strong sense of emotional awareness and somatic attunement that I’ve developed throughout the years, the specific practices vary [based] on what I need most. One day, it may mean a loving-kindness meditation. The next day, it may mean lighting several candles and feeling my body melt into a steamy bath. Every day, though, it entails starting my morning with an affirmation and ending the night with gratitude journaling. These are practices I recommend to everyone, no matter their circumstances.
As I wake up and pull myself out of bed, I take a peek into my heart and ask myself what I need to hear. Without analyzing or forcing, I allow whatever comes up to intuitively act as my guide. One whisper that many of us may feel calling from our authentic selves is “I am enough.” Say I choose this as my affirmation. Well, I then walk up to a mirror, close my eyes, place my hand over my heart, and breathe into the space. With five-second inhalations and exhalations, I feel the sweet peace start to wash over me. I open my eyes and meet my gaze in the mirror, then recite aloud, “I am enough.”
Self-love for me looks like spending time with myself. It means reading a book, getting a little extra sleep, working out, spending time with someone I love—even if it means scheduling an appointment with myself in my calendar and blocking off that time … realizing that I am just as important as anyone else in my life and that I need to take care of myself first so that I can show up for those around me as well.
For me, self-love doesn’t look the same week to week or even day to day. The biggest thing I do is check in with myself. I do a lot of journaling and that’s a great way of tracking how I feel, what I want more or less of.
Once you can be honest with yourself about what you’re actually anxious, sad, or overwhelmed with, you can start problem solving. If I’m feeling sad, maybe it’s important that week for me to reach out to friends and spend time outside of the house. If I’m overwhelmed, maybe I need to take a day off and fine-tune my schedule so I feel less anxiety about my days.
Do self-love and self-care differ for you? If yes, how so?
I think in many ways they overlap, but to me there are a few distinct differences. Self-love to me is being mindful of loving the person I was, am, and will be. So many times we live with regret or fail to live in the moment. Loving the person that has brought me here today and will shape who I am in the future is so important to me especially as a fairly new mom.
Self-care is about indulging in and paying close attention to habits that will keep me relaxed, healthy, and focused, for example massages, exercise, meditation, journaling, diet, and sleep.
Personally, I feel that self-care is simply an outward expression of self-love. While I can be madly in love with myself, it takes much more than vocalizing the emotion (although this is undoubtedly important). Imagine you’re in a long-term, committed relationship. You would certainly need your partner to demonstrate his or her love through appropriate actions, correct? The same applies to the relationships we’re actively creating with ourselves!
Self-care is one expansive umbrella term for every way this may be done. Weekly aromatherapeutic baths and meditations … are wonderful examples. While self-care is a budding topic in today’s society, it goes far beyond the “bumper sticker” of getting [our] nails done. It also means eating a nutritious diet, moving our bodies, declaring boundaries, vocalizing needs, and removing from our lives what is no longer serving us. Like I said: expansive!
I see self-love as just that: doing the things that I love for myself. Self-care I see as taking care of the things in my life that make me feel supported, successful, and healthy. Self-care is doing what you need to do in order to take care of yourself, in order to operate from a place of abundance rather than depletion or exhaustion.
Self-love and self-care are pretty integral to one another. …Self-love is really the thought process: my desire to find more kindness and patience for myself. Self-care is the action.
The majority of wanting to love myself and feel good inside my own body is mental. But my ability to give my energy to that pursuit comes down to daily acts of self-care and the choices I make to support the wants.
How has self-love impacted your life?
I had heart surgery at the age of 18 years old. I had an atrial septal defect that needed to be corrected. As a young girl, I [placed a lot of importance] on how I looked, so the idea of scars just before heading off to college was not easy for me to handle. It took a long time for me not to be embarrassed by my scar or have it define my worth.
Fast-forward to 2015 when I again had to have a major surgery. This time it was my thyroid. Growth definitely helped dramatically when it came to my attitude with this surgery, but also learning to love myself no matter what I looked like and being less superficial. I am more focused on what’s on the inside. Experiences like these have drastically impacted me.
My path towards a regular self-love practice was rocky, at best. Growing up, it was an altogether foreign topic. When a therapist first broached the topic with my deeply hurting self, I immediately huffed and puffed—admonishing something so lax. After all, how the bleep was self-love going to get me and my array of perfectionistic tendencies to XYZ?
This is a belief that many women share, which is precisely why these campaigns are so necessary. Moving from self-hate to self-acceptance to self-compassion to outright self-love took time, and allowing it to unfold in that order was the only way to make it genuinely feasible. Now having made it to the other side, I can honestly say that self-love saved me. Without it, I never would have healed from my trauma, my disordered behaviors, or my limiting narratives. I would have remained stuck in a cycle of terrifying self-destruction, tearing myself to shreds believing that it was this unforgiving nature that would eventually raise me into “enoughness.”
However, that wasn’t my fix; nor would it ever be. As it turns out, my own love was what I had always been searching for. Because of this realization, I have my life. Despite what many of us are conditioned to believe, we need not be our harshest critics. There is undeniable power in being gentle, and in this gentleness, I found I could be fiercely in love with myself and my purpose. That same fire is what has kept me—and will continue to keep me—going.
Self-love has helped me love myself through both the good and the bad times. It’s one thing to love yourself when everything is going well. It’s another thing to love yourself when things feel really hard.
Those moments of self-love and self-care help you stay connected to yourself and remember how special you truly are.
Self-love allows me to grow into the best version of myself and know that I’m enough. With it I’m less worried about other people’s opinions about my body and my choices. I’m able to trust my intuition. I’m able to advocate for myself in ways I didn’t before I valued my own needs.
The world often tells you how it sees you, how it wants to see you. Self-love has helped me feel strong in telling the world who I am and how I’ll be seen. It gives me strength in putting myself out there, allowing myself to take up space in life and online. I wouldn’t feel as comfortable showing my body or being proud of my accomplishments if I didn’t fundamentally believe I deserved to be seen.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to establish or strengthen a self-love practice?
It’s hard to achieve self-love if A) You are not surrounding yourself with people that acknowledge the importance of self-love themselves, or B) You haven’t truly committed to loving yourself.
Avoid self-hate talk, not giving yourself positive chats, etcetera. Keeping company with people that will build you up will only make it easier for you to continue to build yourself in a positive way.
My few pieces of advice are to start small, be patient, and make it your own. Your self-love practice is as unique to you as your fingerprint. Don’t look to others when trying to cultivate a “perfect” routine. Instead, take a deep look inside and get your hands dirty. What do you need most?
Your first dip into the ocean of self-love may be as simple as asking those questions and sitting with what comes up without judgment. Feel your full spectrum of emotions and acknowledge what makes you human. Then celebrate what makes you you. Set aside a block of time each week to do something nice for yourself. If … affirmations or gratitude journaling [resonate] with you, these are wonderful places to begin. Find your flow with them and ride that energetic wave wherever it may lead.
When you master the weekly practice, try it three times per week. Nail it? Great, move on to a daily practice. Remember, though, we’re developing self-love. Within this, there is no such thing as perfection. You may set a few intentions, but these are not deadlines or obligations. Love is a priority, but it should never be a source of shame. Show up with what you need as best you can and watch yourself blossom.
Follow what feels right. Listen to your heart and your intuition. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Being successful in anything starts at the source, so take good care of yourself so that you can then go out and be great at all the things you want to achieve. The way you love yourself is the way you teach others to love you. So make sure you give yourself the time, love, and energy that you deserve.
Pay attention to how others do it. Take notes. Narrow down the things that work for you, that feel good and right to you. Rearrange and practice until it feels like the right combination. Most importantly, be patient with yourself. Your practice isn’t going to look exactly like anyone else’s and it’s going to be constantly changing as you grow up and dig deeper.