Self-Care: How Can I Learn to Love Myself?

It’s time to love yourself!

I know for SO, SO many people this is hard.

I’m overwhelmed with the number of messages I receive every week that are full of self-loathing. Here are just a few of the many received JUST. THIS. WEEK.

These messages come from all over the world…there is no country immune to this issue.

I am 13, and I want to kill myself. Nobody cares about me, and I hate myself

I feel so numb all the time.

Am I worth it? does anyone truly love me ?

Life is this huge vapid hole  I don’t see why my life is important.

I hate being me. I’m embarrassed that I am me and wish I could be someone else.

There is no easy, one-step answer here. Deep-rooted issues lie beneath such low self-esteem.

But we need to start somewhere, so today I want to talk about place to begin the journey towards learning to love yourself.  I want to talk about self-care.

But before you can even begin any steps toward self-care, you need to make a choice right now.

Are you worth it?

I can list important steps towards self-care and loving yourself, but first you need to decide that you are worth the effort. If you don’t, you will never take these steps.

The fact that you are reading this, tells me that you WANT to believe you’re worth it.  So let me give you permission to believe it. YOU. ARE. WORTH. LOVING.

I’ll tell you why you are worth loving in a bit, but first let’s talk about self-care.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others. (

A common misconception about self-care is that it is selfish or indulgent. But self-care is not about pampering yourself, going to the spa or on a shopping spree. “While self-care can include pampering yourself, it’s so much bigger. It’s so much more meaningful and important. ‘Self-care is essential to our survival,’ said Jessica Michaelson, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and certified coach for those who want to find more joy and meaning in their lives.”

Self-care involves realizing and prioritizing what you need to do to take care of you. It is not selfish, because when you feel good about yourself, you will be able to give back to others and live a life of purpose. And when you live a life of purpose, you will no longer feel like life is a meaningless void where you are just taking up space.

Self-Care is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Self-care will look different for everyone. Taking care of yourself starts with discovering what fills your tank. What helps you refuel? And then making sure you do that.

For some that may be quiet time, while for others it may be time spent with other people. For some it may be dancing it out to your favorite song, and other people may need to watch an hour of their favorite show. What activity makes you happy?

It’s also important to note that another part of self-care may include activities that aren’t always pleasurable. It may involve making that doctors appointment you’ve been avoiding or confronting pain from your past.

While self-care looks different for everyone, there are some universal steps to help you get started:

9 Steps to Self-Care

1. Identify what activity makes you feel good and do it!

No excuses here.  Everybody has something they enjoy doing that makes them feel good. Take a walk, bake a cake, draw/color, roller skate, talk with your grandma. I don’t care what it is. Every week you must do this thing that rejuvenates you. 

2. Add it to your schedule

You need to actively plan to set aside time to do this activity and stick to it. You are worth it. 

3. Just Start

Maybe the first week you don’t give yourself even an hour for your activity. But do something. If your activity is to walk and you only get a five-minute walk in, feel good about accomplishing that and try for more next week. 

4. Take care of yourself physically

  • Sleep – most adults need 7 to 8 hours a night.
  • Eat well - A healthy diet fuels natural energy and boosts our self-esteem and confidence.
  • Exercise - It is as good for our emotional health as our physical health because of the endorphins released. However, in keeping with the self-care principal choose an exercise you like.
  • Maintain good hygiene – You’ll just feel better about yourself.

5. Give up what drains you

Are there relationships that zap your energy? Give yourself some distance. Are you constantly connected to your phone…checking e-mails, texts, snap chat, social media? Set your device aside for an hour. Are there certain events you hate attending? Stop going.

Your time, energy, and emotional well-being are valuable and should be used with intention. When you establish boundaries, you reinforce healthy self-esteem.

6. Choose who you spend time with

Look for people who are upbeat, positive, and enjoy life. Get rid of toxic relationships. It is also good to have people in your life who have perhaps faced similar struggles as you and can relate. Support groups can be very helpful.
Celebrate Recovery is a partner organization of ours that offers support to anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. They are a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling your life. You can find a group in your community here: Celebrate Recovery Group Finder

7. Stop Overthinking

If you start to over-think, haul out a journal and write your thoughts down.  Acknowledge what is on your mind. Now that they are written down and your thoughts are captured, you don’t need to dwell on them anymore.

8. Realize Self-care is non-negotiable.

Have the attitude that self-care is a necessity and don’t give it up. It can be easy to put it off or make up reasons you just can’t, but YOU can!

9. Why is Self-Care So Hard for us to do?

According to Jessica Michaelson, Psy.D, many of us don’t know how to practice self-care because "we weren’t taught to pay attention to our inner states — or to trust them. 'Instead, we are taught what we’re ‘supposed’ to think and feel, and try to ignore feelings that we think we ‘shouldn’t’ feel.'

Consider a newborn who cries when they’re hungry. That is an example of self-care, Michaelson said. 'That is sensing your inner state and taking action to get your needs met.' Because when we ignore our needs, over time, we become sick, unhappy and overwhelmed, she said.

Maybe you’re anxious about a certain situation. But you’re ashamed about your nervous feelings, so you pretend they don’t exist. Maybe you’re really upset about something. But you think you should be happy, so you stuff down your sadness. Maybe you really need 9 hours of sleep. But you believe you should be able to function just fine on 6 hours—so that’s what you try to do. Maybe your entire body is saying no to a commitment. But you don’t want to seem rude or impolite, so you say yes."

If you never make an effort to do something about the fact that you don’t like the way you are feeling or take the time to examine why you are feeling that way and consider what you can do to feel better, your emotions will catch up to you and you will start to feel hopeless. 

This reminds me of this famous quote:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” - Henry Ford
But there is always HOPE.

I told you I would get back to answering the question of why you are worth loving. Here’s what I know. 

Why you are worth loving

Unfortunately, in this selfish, sinful world people will never love us perfectly. Even those who truly love us will let us down at some point. Perhaps you have been let down by someone who was supposed to love you. We are all human and will make mistakes in our relationships. If we put our hope in people, we will be disappointed.

In the Bible it says: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:21-23

Even when people turn their back on you, God still loves you NO MATTER WHAT. He cares so much for you; he even knows how many hairs you have on your head. He desires to have you know him and to have a relationship with you. 

When you know how God feels about you and what God says about you, the world no longer has the power to define you.

Do you have any idea who you truly are? Are you searching for “the real you”? Get this:

The Real You

You are created in the image of God. You are not random cells thrown together. God designed you to be like Him. He didn’t make a mistake when He created you. You are amazing just the way you are.

The Bible says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

How can someone created in the image of God be worthless?

Your identity is no longer tied to:

  • What you achieve · What you look like · Who approves of you · Mistakes of your past

Your worth is defined by who God says you are:

  • Chosen ·Accepted ·Treasured ·Beautiful  ·Protected ·Able ·Complete ·Known·Overcomer ·Masterpiece ·Rescued ·Held

Want to read more about what God says about you? Bible Verses for Self-Acceptance When You Hate Yourself

In conclusion…

How do I learn to love myself?

Start with these three things:

  1. Decide you are worth taking care of.
  2. Practice Self-Care
  3. Learn to see yourself as God sees you.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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