In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the most crucial aspect of our existence… self-love.
The problem is clear: in our daily hustle, self-love often takes a backseat.
We’re inundated with societal pressures, juggling responsibilities, and constantly comparing ourselves to others.
Through years of research and hands-on experience as a life coach, I’ve crafted a set of exercises proven to nurture self-love. My approach combines psychological insights with practical steps.
You want to break free from the chains of self-doubt and embrace a life filled with self-appreciation and respect.
By the end of this article, you’ll have 9 powerful self-love exercises at your fingertips. These aren’t just theories; they’re practical, actionable steps that you can start today.
9 Self love exercises to grow self love
It’s not your fault, it’s your mission.
It’s not your fault, it’s your mission.
So, say to yourself:
OK, I intend to be all I can be.
AND… I’ve got all of these issues and I’m kind of tired of carrying this burden.
So, I’m doing the best I can to learn and grow and make the world better.
And I’ll love myself along the way… as much as I can.
That’s about what it looks like.
Don’t put a bandaid on old heartache!
Because we enter the world, we come into the physical body alone, and we leave this world alone.
Ultimately, it’s a singular journey.
And a spiritual one.
So, we must practice self love along the way. And self love exercises are a great way to heal the heart, so you’re not putting a bandaid on old heartache.
Self love questions help you identify how much you’re loving yourself… or not?
Self love exercises are a phenomenal way to build self love. The following exercises will help you get a stronger sense of how you feel. Daily practice is key here.
Let’s get started…
1. Focus on the feeling
The first self love exercise is the self love secret sauce. I coined this phrase because after decades of studying self love, teaching it to my clients, and practicing it my own life, I believe that this technique, when practiced as a natural part of your life, is the most powerful.
And while it takes some practice, and no one changes overnight, it’s a secret sauce because it chips away at the accumulation of old painful emotional energy we are carrying.
And, the universe is energy! So, healing the heart involves moving old energy out of the body.
Here’s the idea behind it: We don’t lack self-love when we are born. We’re a clean slate mostly, not really if you believe in reincarnation, but for this life, let’s consider you a clean slate.
So, the issues around worthiness, self esteem, and fear, etc. are learned based on what happens to us.
In A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, on page 142, he writes: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.
It consists not just of childhood pain, but also painful emotions that were added to it late in adolescence and during your adult life, much of it created by the voice of the ego. It is the emotional pain that is your unavoidable companion when a false send of self is the basis of your life.”
So, the accumulated emotional energy that’s left in the body must be moved out, dialed down, lessened, or however you naturally picture it.
And you’re right, this takes some time.
And self love.
I recommend journalling to help you focus on the feeling and here are journal prompts for self-love.
There are many emotional release techniques to help you do this, but this exercise, when practiced daily with a lot of self-compassion, will help you tremendously.
2. Say: I love you
The next self love exercise is to look into the mirror and say: I love you.
Yea, it might be a bit awkward. It was for me.
A while back I was at an entrepreneur retreat. Running your own business is complete with feelings of fear, insecurity, and self-doubt, so it’s important to build self confidence along the way.
One of the self love exercises they had us do was each morning, look into the mirror and say: I love you. Honestly, while this sounded easy enough, when I tried it, I felt foolish and awkward.
Why was this simple act of self love so uncomfortable for me?
Since it was so uncomfortable, I decided I should probably stick with it, to see where it went.
And while I never actually enjoyed the exercise, this is one of those simple self love techniques that strikes a chord. Give it a try and if you laugh afterward, no worries!
In practicing self love, a good dose of humor is useful.
3. Use self love affirmations
The next of these tried and true self love exercises is to say self love affirmations each day.
Athletes work out each day… and your brain will benefit from regular workouts too.
Positive affirmations help us reprogram our brains for self-acceptance. Positive psychology tells us that the brain is malleable, meaning the neural pathways in the brain can be reformed.
Affirmations for self love are a wonderful way to occupy your mind as you move through your day.
As you’re drinking your morning coffee, exercising, walking, driving, doing nothing, this positive self talk will create more self love.
Plus, as you commit to repeating good thoughts, you grow your self esteem.
Self esteem is created by how you regard yourself, think about yourself, and feel about yourself. Unfortunately, self esteem suffers if at a young age we didn’t get what we needed emotionally.
The good news is that as adults we can do the work and heal the past.
Every single soul on earth is designed to heal the past.
Beware of negative self-talk
The absolute best book on how to talk to yourself and positive affirmations is What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter.
I cannot imagine my life without this transformative book.
Before reading this I didn’t realize how much my negative thoughts and negative self-talk was invading my life. We are literally talking to ourselves moment by moment with our self-talk, so we want to make it as loving as possible.
And yes, it’s a process.
What to Say When you Talk to Yourself was first published in 1986 and gives thorough and easy to understand soul guidance about how to talk to yourself in a way that’s self-loving, supportive, and honors that you’re a whole human being, not a robot! This book is a game changer. A healthy life begins with what you say when you talk to yourself.
4. Forgive yourself
An important part of soul care is self-forgiveness.
Self love exercises might include acts of forgiveness, towards yourself, others, or both.
At least of yourself.
I know firsthand how hard it is to forgive oneself.
Since this is a deeply personal decision and you’re the only person who can make that decision, you’ll notice the word, might.
When we’ve been deeply hurt by another human being, by things that are unspeakable, no one can tell us that we must forgive. Again, it’s deeply personal.
However, forgiveness is about freeing ourselves, not others. Because forgiveness energetically frees us from others and our own self-judgment.
This is why it’s something to consider. Whatever you decide, honor yourself, your feelings, your path, and wherever you are at.
This is self love in action.
Here is a forgiveness prayer to help you if you’d like to forgive someone or yourself:
Divine, Spirit, Source, please move me into a state of forgiveness towards anyone or anything that has hurt me, consciously or unconsciously, from the beginning of time to this present moment. I now forgive them and I release the energy of the past.
Divine, Spirit, Source, please move me into a state of forgiveness towards myself for any hurt that I have caused others, consciously or unconsciously, from the beginning of time to this present moment. I now forgive myself and I release the energy of the past.
Divine, Spirit, Source, please move me into a state of forgiveness towards myself for any hurt that I have caused myself, consciously or unconsciously, from the beginning of time to this present moment. I now forgive myself and release the energy of the past.
I invoke the Grace and power of Forgiveness to transform my body, mind, and heart as I return to a state of Divine Innocence. And so it is.
5. Give yourself permission for setting boundaries
When you feel your boundaries are being encroached upon, tell yourself: I give myself permission to set boundaries that make me comfortable.
As you give yourself more compassion, you give yourself permission to be comfortable. You deserve comfort!
So often we judge ourselves for needing space.
Instead, give yourself space when you need it. Kindly explain to close loved ones that you’re taking the space because it helps you feel good, lifts your feelings, refuels you, and helps you heal… whatever is true for you.
For non-loved ones, you don’t have to explain so much. It’s not your job to explain yourself to everyone. You decide when an explanation is necessary, keeping in mind that those in close relationships appreciate understanding where you’re coming from.
Try to not overthink setting boundaries. Instead, focus on the feeling. If you feel uncomfortable doing something, then maybe there’s a good reason.
Taking care of yourself requires the time and space to do so.
6. Gratitude exercise
Each morning, from the heart, list who and what you’re grateful for. Not as a rote exercise, but as a true expression of what’s in your heart.
An attitude of gratitude is a gift to yourself. When I wrote my first book, I wrote an acknowledgment section, like most do.
Although I was grieving the loss of my husband and feeling quite lonely and isolated, this exercise helped me get into a state of gratitude that’s been with me ever since.
I listed every person who had somehow impacted the writing of the book and it made me feel good. It helped me feel loved in the world because it shifted my entire perspective of how much support and love were present in my life.
7. Chip away at your emotional deprivation
One of the most impactful books I’ve read is: Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior and Feel Great Again, by Jeffrey E. Young Ph. D. and Janet S. Klosko, Ph. D.
This remarkable book helps the reader identify the roadblocks that are present based on inborn temperament and experiences. Since awareness is the first step in solving our problems, this framework is extremely helpful.
If you have these life traps, you’ll respond to situations based on the life trap. Remind yourself what’s true in the current situation and that the old situation is in the past: ie: Joe loves me and is here for me. Sarah isn’t going to leave. I can trust him or her or they. The life trap skews your reality and it takes time and awareness to not let that happen.
Emotional freedom technique (EFT or tapping).
One way to chip away at your life trap is the emotional freedom technique.
EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.
I’ve personally used EFT for over twenty years and recommend it to my clients. It’s one of the most effective and easy ways to get at the early programming and move accumulated emotional energy out of the body and be your best self.
Positive thinking or what I call high-vibe thinking™ is an important thing to help you view yourself differently. Clearly, it’s key to do the emotional work in addition to positive thinking.
8. Remind yourself that you deserve love
During our most trying times, when we feel bad about ourselves, or like we’re not supported in this universe, we need to remind ourselves that we deserve love and reverse negative thoughts.
Over and over again.
Of all of these self love exercises, this one is particularly important. So, when you’re feeling hurt, sad, unworthy, or heartbroken for ANY reason, focus on the feeling without anything thoughts or story around it and say to yourself: I deserve love.
This exercise is the secret sauce for growing in self love.
Imagine for a moment that the universe is speaking to you in those moments. That your deceased loved ones are watching over you and telling you: You deserve love.
Feel this tremendous support that is with you at all times.
And, if you find you’re overthinking a relationship, remind yourself that you deserve love and love shouldn’t feel like work.
It takes work… but beware of when it feels like you’re working for love. There’s a distinction there.
Practice and repetition
It takes practice and repetition of these exercises before they begin to really get some traction in your life.
So commit! Commit yourself to practice self love exercises until they become natural. The way that we learn any new habit, any new behavior is through practice and repetition.
9. Make healing your heart a priority
This self love exercise is simple: Set the intention each day to heal your heart.
When you catch self criticism, flip it around and say to yourself, I’m healing my heart so I can be free.
This line is a pivotal realization for my heroine caterpillar in my book, The Butterfly Silhouette, about a caterpillar who doesn’t believe she can be a butterfly.
That book received honorable mention at the San Francisco Book Festival for both spiritual and poetry.
My caterpillar doesn’t believe in herself.
Her journey is one of building self love and becoming who she’s meant to be.
In the climax of the story, she turns to the sky and says: Please heal my heart, so I can be free.
This acknowledgment says: I am a work in progress. Although I am not totally healed, I believe in my ability to heal. I know I’m not alone on this journey. Thank you for helping me along the way.
Whatever problem is following you around… these things go deep.
Go dig a very deep hole in your yard and then go 1,000 feet deeper, and then maybe you’ll be close to how deep our issues go! The hole went at least that deep for me.
We are truly products of our childhood.
No doubt about it.
So, don’t blame yourself. You’ve been given this legacy to carry in your unique soul.
When we realize, day by day that we do not walk the journey alone, we own that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
And growing self love is the most deserving of all paths.
We take a giant step forward in finding happiness, peace, and bliss in life as we love ourselves.
Here’s my home page to read more.