Whether you are single and not dating, a mother of two, or a busy career woman, there comes that phase when you begin to question your worth as an individual. In this ever-changing world where there is an insatiable hunger for what’s best, it’s easy to think of yourself as less than those with better skin, better voices, better talent, better families, better love lives, better luck, etc.

What other people think about you is not necessarily a determining factor of your true worth as a person. So your boss thinks you don’t deserve a raise. So your grade-schooler occasionally makes a comparison between you and her favorite teacher. So all of your friends are dating or happily married and you’re single and alone. So you feel insecure when your partner shoots admiring glances at a model in a magazine or a pretty girl who walks by. You may not know it, but all resentment and bitterness in life actually comes from our inability to love ourselves for who we truly are.

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What Loving Yourself Really Means: Loving yourself is actually harder than you think, because it can only be accomplished once we have transcended from our innate tendency to compare. This means, truly loving yourself involves coming to terms with aspects in your life that you cannot change. To love yourself means to value and respect your existence, to live with a positive and healthy self-image and to accept pluses and minuses unconditionally. Easier said than done, I know.

Begin with a Purpose: When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, “Why am I waking up?”  Whether it’s to cook your husband breakfast or to go to work for a big meeting, believe in your purpose, no matter how trivial you think it is. In reality, you are actually making a big difference in someone’s life. For everything that you do, a purpose is crucial so that you do not lose your way and allow yourself to falter with discouraging thoughts.

Always Leave Room for Improvement: No one is born perfect, and one of the very first things you will need to learn when loving yourself is that your flaws are part of who you are. Some, you can change. Others, you accept. Do not shut yourself out to getting better. Believe that while there are some things you cannot change, you can always improve other aspects.

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Be Gracious About Accepting Compliments: Sometimes, what we don’t see in ourselves is what everyone loves about us. So the next time somebody gives you a compliment, resist the urge to think that they’re insincere. Flash them a sweet smile, take in the compliment, and say “thank you”.

Only Seek Approval from Yourself: Ever wonder why self-starters are happy people? Or why two girls can wear the exact same outfit but only one stands out? Confidence is the key to appreciating yourself. If you wait too long for approval from others, you instantly lose your identity and become a puppet to what makes other people happy. You lose your own sense of happiness and freedom, even if you don’t realize it. Before you see the good in others, it is crucial that you see what’s good in you and approve of it a hundred percent.

Give Yourself a Break: A break doesn’t just mean a mani-pedi at the end of a tiring work week. You don’t even need a budget to show yourself some love. Thirty minutes of me-time could be spent brushing your hair, listening to your favorite music, taking a walk in the park or spending some quality time with your interests. If you like to cook, a break could mean whipping up a dinner for one.  You certainly don’t have to wait to long to reward yourself. There will always be a reason, everyday, to give yourself a pat on the back.

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Surround Yourself with Success: When we speak of success in this context, it refers to anything you’ve been able to accomplish. It doesn’t matter how little. Let each symbol be a reminder of a good day or of a day when you were able to do something you wanted and you were happy with the results.

What most people don’t know is that the secret to successful relationships is each individual learning to love and accept his or herself before anything else. When you can accept your strengths and weaknesses, you can be more open to seeing how wonderful other people are.