The lifelong journey of self-love has its ups and downs, but with patience and consistent effort, you can cultivate a deep love for yourself to lead a more fulfilling and joyful life.
Adrienne Siew, a licensed counsellor and psychology degree (BAPS) alumni of WOU, was speaking at a public webinar on “Self-Love”, organised by WOU’s School of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences (SEHS) on 15 July 2023.
She said self-love can be cultivated through actions that support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth. The habits needed for self-love are: self-reflection; practise self-compassion; explore negative self-talk; set boundaries; practise self-care; surround yourself with supportive people; embrace self-discovery; and seek professional support.
“With self-reflection, you can catch yourself when you start to have negative thoughts. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake or do not do something well, learn and move on,” she said.
She noted that exploring the reasons behind any negative self-talk helps you to deal with it. She further stated, “If you surround yourself with supportive people, you can have the energy. Embrace self-discovery, especially when you find things you do not like, and seek professional help for deeper issues.”
Siew said that self-love enables you to recognise and value your own needs, desires and boundaries, and to treat yourself with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. “Self-love also involves recognising your strengths, celebrating your accomplishments, and accepting your flaws and imperfections without judgement or self-criticism,” she added.
She highlighted the following barriers to self-love: negative self-talk, past trauma or conditioning, comparison and social media influence, perfectionism and high self-expectations, external validation and approval-seeking, and a lack of self-care.
She advised to be aware of negative self-talk, like “I am not good enough,” “I cannot do it,” or “I am too old”, and to do what is needed to remove such thoughts. Past trauma may also make one feel unworthy. As for social media, it promotes comparisons and influences some people when others post themselves on holiday abroad, having fun, or being perfect.
Siew conceded that we all need some external validation, especially from parents or bosses, but if the approval-seeking becomes detrimental for us, then that is not helpful.
She suggested exercising self-care for overall wellness. “Have time for self-reflection, listen to music, and do things that make you feel good. Exercise, eat well. When you are too stressed what do you do?”
She also mentioned the seven segments of self-love, which are self-awareness, self-exploration, self-kindness, self-respect, self-growth, self-care, and self-esteem.
“Self-awareness makes you aware and allows you to be accountable for your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. When you are angry, that does not mean you can simply shout at people. You take accountability and know you need to take the space for yourself to disperse that anger,” Siew asserted.
Self-exploration is about learning who you are and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. She observed, “When we give compassion and embrace our weakness, then we can be wholesome.”
She also emphasised the need to be kind and not put demands on oneself like “I should do this and that”. Meanwhile self-respect entails you to be brave enough to speak for yourself. “Set boundaries and say ‘No, I can’t,’ so that you do not feel burnout,” she stressed.
She concluded, “Self-esteem is how you view yourself, knowing that you are loved and important to this world.”