How to Love Yourself, Like I Finally Did

self love o-diaries

“Learn to love yourself”. I’m sure you’re thinking: Oh, for fuckssake. I’ve heard that too many times. Leave me alone. And, frankly, that’s fair. The theme of self-love is an Instagram darling of sorts. Everywhere you turn (including my IG page, if I’m being honest), you’ll see endless quotes about how to love yourself. For me, it’s been a long, arduous process to self-love. It’s something I still struggle with sometimes. 

How to love yourself

The problem is that we’re not really given any guidelines on how to love yourself, how to make all that joyous AF self-love actually happen. It’s easy to tell people to love themselves and have a nice day; it’s not so easy to provide steps and guidance to get them there. For all the fanfair, learning to love yourself is really important – vital, in fact, to living a truly resplendent life. “If we don’t learn how to love ourselves then we may be left either looking after others or [engaging in] self-destructive habits. Both can lead to feeling low and [this] does not create a great life,” says psychosexual therapist, Cate Mckenzie.

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This easier said than done, like nearly everything in life. It’s an ongoing process that may never fully end. You need to be OK with that. “Self-love is the foundation to your whole wellbeing. Physical, mental, emotional, and sexual,” says Lucy Rowett, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach. Here are some tangible ways to stop buying into the BS and learn to love yourself the way you deserve. I did a lot of self-work for you. I hope these lessons help!

To this day I struggle to love my body, especially. Even when I’m stupidly skinny, I look in the mirror and see a few pounds that could stand to be shed.

Why self-love is such a complex issue for people (especially women)

Self-love is a difficult and complicated issue for all people, but especially for women. Women are socialised and expected to be “givers.” The idea that we could have agency and control over our lives, bodies, and pleasure is something that has only recently made its way into the modern vernacular. I remember the first time I actually decided to stop trying to make people like me and started living for myself. It was such a terrifying prospect. What if no one liked me and I was all alone?

To this day I struggle to love my body, especially. Even when I’m stupidly skinny, I look in the mirror and see a few pounds that could stand to be shed. The pressure for women to look a certain way is instilled inside of us. Everything we hear is about being “pretty enough” or “thin enough,” in order to be deemed a valuable choice as a wife and mother. “Even if [women] make themselves look good it may be for the pressure of fitting in rather than just for themselves. There are a lot of stresses on women to look a certain way [to] achieve success,” Mckenzie explains.

Be gentle with yourself

It’s important to first look inside and do inner work before embarking on a true journey of self-acceptance. Look at the ways in which certain societal values may have impacted your self-esteem and the place you see for yourself in the world. That self-realization is the foundation needed to be equipped to imbibe yourself with love. “Be patient with yourself when it comes to self-love. You’re learning a completely new skill and learning to parent yourself again, this takes practice, so don’t beat yourself up for not loving yourself yet,” Rowett adds.

There are days when I’m on top of the world, and others when I feel like I’m failing at everything and everyone hates me. 

Find a self-love routine: ways to love yourself

For the most part, I think I am awesome. Truly, unapologetically awesome. But, that took and takes constant practice. There are days when I’m on top of the world, and others when I feel like I’m failing at everything and everyone hates me. The key is practice. When I am down on myself and feeling like a turd, I draw a glorious, luxurious bubble bath and I soak in it. And I mean really soak in it. Like, until the water is tepid and the bubbles have disappeared into the tub.

Afterwards, I lather myself in body butter and look at myself in the mirror. I name 3-5 things that I absolutely love about my body. Rowett agrees with this approach, citing that we all need to be our own cheerleader. Finally, in true sexologist fashion, I take out my Womanizer  or my Tango and give myself a much-deserved orgasm. Nothing makes me feel grounded and more sure of my badassery than an orgasm. Remember to keep your vibes charged. There is nothing worse than your practice getting derailed by a sad, dead sex toy.

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Your routine will probably look differently than mine. What does it mean to love yourself? Well, what’s key is doing things you love. Each and every day do something thing you actually like doing. Whether it be reading a book, taking a walk, working out, eating a cookie, or rubbing one out – make yourself do it.

Write about your experiences

Journaling is hands down one of the most carthadic experiences you can engage in. Even if you’re not much of a “writer,” that’s OK. McKenzie says that writing about your experiences forces you to look inward and reflect. 

I try to journal for 5-10 minutes each morning over my cup of coffee. It doesn’t need to be pen to paper, if that’s not your thing. Jot some notes down in your phone or write in a poetic-ass moleskin. It’s up to you. You can write words that resonate with you, reflect on your dreams from the previous night, or even list fantasies or dreams for the future that you might have. Whatever it is, write.

You need to love the body you’re in to feel safe in the world. It’s what carries you.

Get naked (with yourself)

There is something so incredibly revolutionary and amazing about being naked. It’s the way we were meant to be. Get naked with yourself. Read naked, work naked, chill around the house naked. If you have roommates, be naked in your room and wear a robe when you need to leave for snacks and such.

Self-love is rooted in the body. You need to love the body you’re in to feel safe in the world. It’s what carries you. I know it can be scary if you haven’t been naked before, but you need to do it. You can start small. Maybe hanging out in underwear for a while will be easier? Sure. You do that. But at some point you’re going to need to get naked and love yourself – because if you don’t love yourself, no one else will. I’m literally naked right now while writing this! It’s fabulous! I hope these tips help to propel you on your journey to self-love. I believe in you.

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Gigi Engle is a sexologist, certified sex coach, and feminist author. She teaches about pleasure-based sex education, masturbation, and the magical wonders that are sex toys. Engle's work has appeared in many publications her articles have been shared over 50 million times. She also writes a popular advice column called Ask Gigi, and her first book, All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life, debuts in January 2020. She has a degree in both English and Journalism from Fordham University College at Lincoln Center. Engle is an original member of The Women of Sex Tech and a certified member the World Association of Sex Coaches.