While many may think of self-love as making yourself a bubble bath, sex relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly said it can be almost anything that makes someone feel good.
“Self-love and self-care might involve working out, or cooking, or taking a nap, or running, or dancing,” she said. “Self-love is really about holding your own well-being and happiness in high regard.”
Be it in emotional, spiritual or relational ways, O’Reilly said self-love is rooted in self-compassion.
“It can be as simple as waking up in the morning and saying to yourself, ‘You know what, I’m not going to be hard on myself today.’”
When it comes to the root causes or why people often hold back from loving themselves, O’Reilly said there are many factors but trauma is a main contributor.
“When we’ve experienced any sort of trauma… We often respond with coping mechanisms to protect ourselves,” she said, adding that this can involve fear and self-blame.
For some people, developing trauma responses may involve avoiding being loved by themselves or not feeling safe or deserving enough to be loved by others.
“Of course all of these responses manifest along a continuum so it might be mild, it might be more extreme — we all experienced this to some degree,” she said.
“It can be as simple as not giving yourself credit when credit is due or being really hard on yourself or sabotaging your relationships by looking for problems or starting fights for no reasons.”
When it comes to changing these responses, people can adapt and create a new response to self-love just as they would for trauma responses, said O’Reilly.
First, she suggests people acknowledge they are avoiding love and think about what makes them feel worthy, safe and secure. Next, people should also think about what makes them feel unsafe, and what they can do to maximize those feel-good situations.
“Sometimes it’s about lifestyle, behavioural, relational and cognitive shifts in order to create these new responses (and) new patterns that allow you to open up to self-love to begin with,” she said.
In terms of the best ways to invest in oneself, O’Reilly said it varies from each person but taking a moment to write down or say out loud that they are worthy and deserve love can kickstart kindness to themselves.
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Additionally, she adds people can prioritize doing something kind for themselves.
“Eat or drink something that you love and relish in with no apology, stretch for a moment, massage your own hand, maybe make a phone call to someone who makes you feel good,” she said.
“You are not needy, because you need love and you really just deserve to feel love today and every day.”
Watch O’Reilly’s full interview with The Morning Show in the video above.