Self-love is constant work and not an automatic state of being- here's how to put it into practice

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Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • Life coach Thembi Hama shares four essential elements to help understand self-love. 
  • We practise self-love because we become functional, effective and progressive people. 
  • Regardless of what others may say or think, self-love is affirming. 

Self-love may sound automatic and easy to master, but that is far from the truth for many people. We live in a society where we constantly compare ourselves to others and bombard ourselves with ugly self-talk.

We tend to let what others say about us and traumatic experiences we have been through define who we are.

In the words of Queen Bey: "Me, myself and I, that's all I got in the end, that's what I found out. And it ain't no need to cry I took a vow that from now on, I'm gon' be my own best friend."

You need you!

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Life coach Thembi Hama says self-love is a culmination of self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-development and self-care.

"You must first know who you are, be accepting of that, constantly develop yourself and care for yourself. These four elements are essential because you cannot love something you do not know intimately, you cannot love something you do not accept, you cannot love something you do not nurture, and you cannot love something you do not care for. Self-love, therefore, is constant work, not an automatic state of being."

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Why must we practise self-love?

Thembi says we practise self-love because we become functional, effective and progressive people. "When you love yourself, you are confident, assertive, discerning, can have healthy relationships, can complement others, are self-respecting and can thrive career-wise," she explains.

It leads to self-confidence because you accept who you are and nurture yourself. Regardless of what others may be saying or doing around you, you feel comfortable in your skin, affirm yourself, and do not need external validation. "People who lack confidence are not in touch with themselves and therefore need outside approval or permission to exist. Their life experiences are limited," she adds. 

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Put it into practice!

Self-discovery involves self-reflection and self-introspection. Questions like who am I? What makes me happy? What makes me tick? What makes me unhappy? It is self-loving to do things that feel authentic to who you are and are aligned to your goals. You could do this by journaling, remembering who you used to be growing up, doing activities, participating in hobbies that you like and making a list of your values.

Self-acceptance means making peace with what you find out and not judging yourself, ridiculing yourself, hiding or minimising yourself just to fit in or for the comfort of others. Here it helps to positively affirm yourself, hang around with like-minded people, creating a tribe or community where you feel comfortable being the finest expression of yourself.

Self-development recognises that you need to grow, change, learn, and heal as an individual to thrive in life. So it is constant self-work, which could be academic, furthering your education, or networking and attending workshops. It could also be learning emotional skills such as how to be confident, how to master emotional intelligence, how to forgive in relationships etc. It could even be physical, e.g. challenging yourself to complete a marathon race, get into shape etc. 

Self -Care would be anything you do for yourself to bring you joy, peace and general wellness. It means giving yourself what you are already giving others — putting yourself first and giving from your excess. 

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