Self-love is not a destination—it’s a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. And while it feels much easier to love yourself when everything is going right in your life, the truth is that it’s a totally different story when things aren’t going so right.
The tricky part about genuine self-love is making it unconditional. If you only really love yourself when it feels like your life is in order or you’ve just achieved a desired goal, but turn on yourself when your make mistakes or face rejection—then you’re making self-love conditional.
Loving yourself through the messiness of life does not mean that you have to like what you’re currently facing. It does, however, require you to stop judging yourself and accept that your current experiences are happening for a reason.
1. Give yourself permission to take a break from yoga or tailor your practice to what you’re going through.
When life gets tough, you’ll only make things harder by expecting yourself to live up to all your normal responsibilities—and that includes yoga if you have a regular practice. Take some time off to process your emotions, focus on what you need to regain your sense of balance, and leave no room to feel guilty or ashamed about it.
As an alternative, you can shift the focus of your practice to help you with what you’re dealing with. For example, many classes offered by studios and online platforms focus on helping students cope with specific problems like stress, addiction, and even grief.
2. At the very least, commit to doing three basic healthy habits every day—without question.
Sometimes even the most basic day-to-day activities seem impossible to do in the midst of extreme hardship, so it can be worthwhile to make a short list of three things to accomplish every day at a bare minimum rather than overwhelming yourself too many to-do’s. This list might look like this:
- Get dressed.
- Take a shower.
- Eat at least 2 meals.
Or it might look like this:
- Hug/kiss my partner before leaving for work.
- Meditate/pray for 1 minute.
- Go to bed by 10 o’clock tonight.
3. Find a healthy outlet for processing your darker thoughts and feelings, and don’t try to rush “getting over” them.
Most people would rather fill their downtime with distractions than sit silently with themselves, but it is only by the power of distraction-free solitude that we can truly tune into ourselves and begin the process of healing from whatever we’re facing. A little a day can go a long way over time and save yourself from suppressed negativity that affects you years and years down the road.
Start spending at least 5 minutes a day in distraction-free solitude and silence. From there, gently increase your time limit as needed and consider moving toward journaling your thoughts, talking to yourself out loud, or allowing yourself to fully embrace all of your negative emotions by crying, screaming, cursing, or even punching a pillow if you feel the need.
4. Get support from friends, relatives, community members, or professionals.
Turning to others in difficult times is not about seeking validation or hoping that somebody else can solve your problems for you. Instead, it’s about getting out of your own mind by broadening your self-perception through the lens of others’ perspectives and considering ideas that you’d be less likely to become aware of all on your own.
Even though only you have the power to cultivate the self-love you deserve, connecting with other people can help open you up to new information, meanings, lessons, and even solutions based on their personal knowledge and experience. After all, just because it’s called “self”-love doesn’t mean the entire journey is a solo one!