Self-love is one of the strongest emotional weapons you can have. It fortifies your mind, gives you clarity when faced with disappointment, and, generally speaking, leads to better decision making.

But how do you do self-love? People throw the term around so casually as if it’s so easily done, or they treat it like this big, vague concept that lives up in the clouds. But self-love is not a mindset. Just like love towards another person is about actions more than just feelings, so, too, is self-love.

Life and love coach Francesca Hogi broke down what those actions are and removed some of the vagueness around loving one’s self. Here are what she calls the five pillars of self-love.

How self-love provides clarity

“Without self-love you’re going to be dealing with these extra complications that stand in the way of true intimacy and connection…. So when you’re triggered, depending on how you feel about your level of self-love, you handle that in a different way,” Hogi said. She went onto explain that without self-love moments when someone else disappoints you can be even more painful. You aren’t assessing the moment for what it is (not personal), but rather, the disappointment is triggering some negative belief you hold about yourself.

Pillar One: Self-compassion

“That’s the ability to give yourself a break and to make the choice to release that self-judgment so you can move on…so you can move past whatever that challenge is that you’re faced with. Because everyone is deserving of compassion, yourself included. And self-compassion extinguishes shame. It’s very, very powerful.”

Pillar Two: Self-worth

“Self-worth…is the belief –the true belief – that you are worthy of having your needs met. And we all have the same core needs, though in our individuality we need them in different amounts. But we all have the same needs for love, connection, intimacy, purpose, creativity, abundance, safety, good health…” says Hogi.

A note on self-worth issues

For the record, taking on some self-worth issues is a pretty common part of just being alive due to the messages we receive from society, our childhood, and a host of other experiences, Hogi says. “If you are a person in our culture who does not have some worthiness issues, I do not know how that’s possible.”

You can say it, but do you live it?

“Many times people say ‘Oh, of course, I believe I’m worthy,’ but I really caution people to ask yourself ‘Well if I did truly believe I was worthy of having this thing that I want…this love…this respect…this intimacy…this connection…what would I do now?’ Asking yourself that question is a way of starting to challenge yourself to act worthy, even if your feelings aren’t 100 percent there yet,” says Hogi.

Pillar Three: Self-validation

“This is the ability to give yourself credit where credit is due. It is about not holding yourself to a standard of perfection. Because that is an impossible standard. And it’s understanding that, every step along the way in your journey, you can – if you are willing to look for it – you can find a way to give yourself credit for something.”

Even if you “fail,” you get credit for trying

In looking for things for which you deserve credit, Hogi says it’s not always about the obvious success. “Even if it’s ‘Well I haven’t given up.’ Even if it’s ‘Well I tried to do this thing that was really scary and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted but at least I tried.’ By practicing that you gain more confidence. And you also become less dependent on other people’s validation because you develop that ability to validate yourself.”

Pillar Four: Self-care

“The way I define self-care is a two-part inquiry,” explains Hogi. “The first is to ask yourself ‘How do I want to feel?…On my love journey? When I go on a date? How do I want to feel in my relationship?’ And then once you’ve gotten that answer, then asking yourself, ‘What action or actions can I take to support myself in feeling that way?’ So it’s about being very strategic. It’s about being very curious, and very strategic about what empowering and empowered steps you can take to help you so that you can lead the life that you want to lead.”

Pillar Five: Self-gratitude

Self-gratitude, says Hogi, “is when you are able to be grateful for the person that you get to be on this planet. So this isn’t what you’ve done. This isn’t what you have, though it’s important to be grateful for those things as well. This is about really starting to train yourself to be grateful for the things that make you uniquely you. Your passions. Your wit. Your humor. Your perseverance. Your empathy. Your creativity. Your unique perspective on situations. Whatever that looks like for you.”

Self-love is a practice; not a finish line

“You can ask yourself ‘What about the person that I am can I be grateful for right now?’ And just asking yourself that question and challenging yourself to come up with an answer, even if it’s one thing, that is an act of love. And for all of these, they’re a practice,” says Hogi. “There’s no finish line. But every step counts. And every step gets you closer to having the life that you want to have because you are now loving the person that you are.”


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