Recently, we explored the ideas of self-love and selflessness, and how there IS room for both. “Dying to Self” is a pretty heavy subject, and I want to re-balance the scales. So here’s an uplifting dose of self-love.
Please know — I don’t live these ideas out perfectly, but I sure strive to. I’m writing them as much for myself as I am for you. If you have other ideas, please leave them in the comments below!
7 Healthy Ways to Love Yourself
1. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Comparison inevitably leads down one of two paths: envy or pride. And both of these are counter to what God wants for your life. Admire and celebrate others, and be kind to yourself in the process.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” — 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
2. Eat and move the way you were designed to. I’m not saying go vegan or run a marathon. It’s not about rigidity, extremes or exclusionism. It’s not about bikini season or washboard abs. It’s about taking care of the body God gave you by eating things that make you healthy and strong and moving more. What’s more, this discipline can translate over into spiritual exercise, which promises reward in this life and the next.
“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.” — 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)
3. Surround yourself with people who love you (and treat yourself as those people would). These are the people who successfully calibrate invitation and challenge in all areas of your life – swimsuits and beyond. They love you not for who you are, but in spite of who you are. They embody and demonstrate love as it was intended.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NIV)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-35 (NIV)
4. Guard yourself against the voice of the enemy. Hearing God’s voice can be difficult, especially if you’re already feeling down on yourself. Lies from the enemy sound a lot like truth when you’re in a weakened or confused state. Here are some helpful ways to discern self-loathing lies from the enemy:
- They are loud, urgent, nagging and/or distracting.
- They are confusing or inconsistent with established truth.
- They are poorly-developed or nonsensical.
- They ring of despair, hate, anxiety, fear, offense — anything uncharacteristic of God.
- They sabotage, attacking moments that would otherwise be filled with joy.
Sound familiar? It’s important to dismiss the enemy’s voice as soon as you recognize it.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” — Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
5. Try a media diet. It would be impossible to shield yourself from every damaging influence in this media-saturated world. But you can certainly draw a line when it comes to anything that leaves you feeling conflicted, sexualized, objectified and/or unworthy — instead of celebrated, special, empowered and, well, “more than enough.”
I have a heightened sense of awareness to the impacts of media since I became a mom. Trashy magazines, music, TV shows, apps and other negative influencers just don’t deserve real-estate in my mind.
If it’s not life-giving, let it go.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” — Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
6. Look for love in all the right places. Instead of seeking the approval of this world, seek the approval of God. He couldn’t care less how you look in a swimsuit, but He deeply cares about the spiritual shape of your heart.
True love for yourself and for others does not exist apart from God. It can only be offered and accepted as it was intended by someone who has experienced God’s love firsthand. Be strong and healthy and carry yourself with confidence. But never allow your image, actions, or self-worth to be driven by worldly criteria. You’ll never win. Instead, see yourself as God sees you. If you don’t know how He sees you, ask Him.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” — Luke 12:6-7 (NIV)
7. Give yourself a big hug. Whether you do this literally (like my weirdo pic up top) or figuratively (by treating yourself to a trail run, a mani/pedi, a hot bubble bath or coffee with a great friend), allow yourself time to rest and space to be with God.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)