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6 Ways to Love Yourself First: The Psychology of Self-Love and Why You Need to Practice It

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Ways to love yourself

In a world where we often prioritize everyone else in our lives, learning to love yourself first is not just a luxury but a necessity. This article delves into the psychology of self-love, the reasons why you should love yourself, and practical ways to achieve it. Read on to discover how self-love can improve your life and well-being.

What Does Loving Yourself First Really Mean?

Loving yourself goes beyond the surface-level concept of self-admiration or narcissism. It's a profound acceptance of who you are, flaws and all. When you love yourself first, you acknowledge your self-worth and treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer to a loved one. This form of self-love involves setting boundaries that protect you from toxic relationships and situations that make us feel less than we are. According to therapists, embarking on this journey of self-love is essentially a journey of self-discovery where you learn to accept your flaws, compliment your strengths, and appreciate your uniqueness.

Can You Love Someone Without Loving Yourself?

The age-old adage, "you have to love yourself first," has been subject to various interpretations. Some argue that you don't necessarily need to love yourself first to love someone else. While it's possible to love another person even if you don't love yourself, the quality and depth of that love can be compromised. It's akin to trying to pour from an empty cup; you can't give what you don't have. If you don't want to settle for a love that is less than what you deserve, then loving yourself becomes a prerequisite for loving someone else genuinely.

How to Fall in Love with Yourself

Falling in love with yourself is not an overnight process. It requires practice, conscious effort, and a commitment to treat yourself better. Here are some ways to start the journey of self-love:


Daily affirmations can help you focus on your positive qualities and achievements, rather than dwelling on your inadequacies. Saying something nice to yourself every day can uplift your spirits and contribute to a healthier self-image.

Here are 10 sample affirmations to boost self-love and positivity:

​"I am worthy of love and respect, both from others and myself."

​"I love myself first, so I can better love others."

​"I am enough, and I have everything I need to succeed."

​"I am grateful for the person I am and the person I'm becoming."

​"I embrace my flaws, knowing they make me unique."

​"I am confident in my decisions and trust myself to choose wisely."

​"I deserve happiness, and I attract it effortlessly."

​"I am resilient, strong, and brave, and I can't be defeated."

​"I am deserving of love, just as I am, right this moment."

​"I am proud of all that I have accomplished and excited for all that is yet to come."

Feel free to use these affirmations daily to help instill a sense of self-love and well-being.


Booking time for yourself, whether it's a spa day, engaging in meditation, or simply reading a book, can go a long way in improving your mental health. These acts of self-care make you feel valued and loved.

Set Boundaries

Learning to say no is an essential part of self-love. It helps you prioritize your well-being over the needs of others. Setting boundaries is a way to show that you respect your own time, energy, and emotional health.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It

The phrase "love yourself like your life depends on it" is not just a catchy slogan; it's a mantra for well-being. When you love yourself unconditionally, you're less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors. You'll also find it easier to set boundaries, reject toxic relationships, and focus on self-improvement. In essence, loving yourself is a life-saving act that has far-reaching implications for your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Learning how to love yourself

Why is Loving Yourself Important?

Loving yourself is crucial for a multitude of reasons:

Mental Health

A lack of self-love can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. When you love yourself, you're better equipped to handle life's challenges, making you mentally resilient.

Quality of Relationships

When you love yourself, the people in your life will also treat you better. You'll attract relationships that make you feel loved and valued. Your self-love will radiate, making others around you feel happier and more inclined to see you happy.


Loving yourself encourages you to take steps that contribute to your personal and professional growth. You become more open to opportunities that align with your values and aspirations.

Is Loving Yourself Selfish?

Quotes on selfish love

One common misconception is that self-love is selfish. However, loving yourself is not about ignoring everyone else in your life; it's about recognizing your own needs and taking steps to fulfill them. In the long run, this not only makes you happier but also positively impacts the people around you. Self-love is not selfish; it's self-preservation.

Reasons Why You Should Love Yourself

The journey to self-love is not just about feeling good; it's about enhancing your overall well-being. Here are some compelling reasons why you should love yourself:

self-love heart


When you love yourself, you seek activities and relationships that bring you joy and fulfillment, rather than those that drain you. You become more aligned with your true self and less inclined to seek external validation.


Loving yourself allows you to be grateful for what you have, rather than constantly seeking validation from external sources. This sense of gratitude can profoundly impact your outlook on life, making you more optimistic and resilient.

How to Improve Your Life Through Self-Love

Self-love is not just an emotional state; it's a lifestyle. Here’s how self-love can improve your life:

"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." - Lucille Ball

Achieve Your Goals

When you love yourself, you're more likely to set and achieve goals that align with your best interest. You become your own cheerleader, encouraging yourself to reach new heights.

Long-Term Happiness

Self-love helps you make choices that lead to long-term happiness, rather than instant but short-lived gratification. You become more attuned to what truly matters in life, making choices that contribute to your long-term well-being.

By embracing self-love, you're not just improving your own life but also enriching the lives of those around you. It's a win-win situation that starts with the simple yet profound act of loving yourself.

The Role of Self-Esteem in Self-Love

Boosting Self-Esteem

Loving yourself can naturally boost your self-esteem. When you're confident in who you are, you're better equipped to face life's challenges. Positive affirmations and self-compliments can make you feel "good enough" and counteract societal grades that may discourage you. The practice of self-love through daily affirmations can be a transformative experience. It's not just about saying "I love myself" but truly believing it. When you love yourself first, you set a standard for how others should love you.

Avoiding Self-Hatred

Low self-esteem can often lead to self-hatred, a toxic mindset that can fester and impact you negatively. Loving yourself acts as a buffer against this, helping you focus on self-improvement rather than self-deprecation. Remember, you don't need external validation to love yourself first. If you haven't started this journey yet, it doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't. Self-love is the antidote to self-hatred; it's the first step in a long journey towards self-discovery and happiness.

Overcoming Obstacles to Self-Love


Being compassionate towards yourself is crucial when you make mistakes or face setbacks. It allows you to learn and move forward rather than wallowing in regret. Practicing self-compassion can also help you overcome obstacles that may discourage you from loving yourself. Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned mindfulness teacher, emphasizes the importance of self-compassion in achieving a balanced life.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, the journey to self-love requires professional guidance. Don't hesitate to seek help if you find it challenging to love yourself. Therapists can provide valuable insights and coping strategies. If you're struggling, especially during times like COVID, professional help can be invaluable. A therapist can help you navigate the complexities of your emotions and offer strategies to improve your mental health.

Maintaining Self-Love: A Lifelong Commitment

Maintaining self-love

Prioritize Self-Care

Make self-care a regular part of your to-do list. Whether it's a simple act of reading a book, engaging in meditation, or taking a long bath, these moments contribute to your overall well-being. Don't burn yourself out; you're the person who will always be with you. Self-care is not selfish; it's essential for your mental and emotional well-being.

Be Mindful of Your Mental Health

Keep tabs on your mental state. If you notice signs of stress or anxiety, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Meditation and mindfulness can also help you maintain a balanced mental state. Being mindful allows you to recognize signs of mental fatigue and take steps to address them before they escalate.

The Impact of Self-Love on Your Relationships

Loving yourself before loving others

Avoiding Toxic Relationships

When you love yourself, you're less likely to tolerate toxic behavior from others. You recognize your worth and are less likely to stay in relationships that make you feel unloved or inadequate. Don't let resentment fester; it will only impact you negatively. Setting boundaries is an act of self-love that protects you from the emotional drain of toxic relationships.

Enhancing Healthy Relationships

Self-love also has a positive impact on healthy relationships. When you're happy with yourself, it radiates, making others feel happier around you. Your affection and ability to see others happy can enhance your relationships. When you love yourself, you become a person who will always make others feel loved and respected.

The Role of Forgiveness in Self-Love

Forgive Yourself

Learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Holding onto them only hampers your growth and well-being. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom." Letting go of past errors allows you to focus on the present and the opportunities it brings.

Forgive Others

Holding grudges against others can also be emotionally draining. Forgiveness allows you to let go and move forward. It's not about the wrong person; it's about freeing yourself. Holding onto resentment can negatively affect your mental health and your ability to love yourself fully.


Would you like to read more about self-love and its impact on your life? Consider booking an appointment with a qualified therapist at Love Discovery Institute. You may also call 305-605-LOVE to get matched with a qualified therapist.

Remember, self-love is a journey, not a destination. It's a lifelong commitment that requires consistent effort. So, start today and make self-love a priority in your life.

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