Healthy self-love is the balance between low self-esteem (a lack of self-love) and grandiosity (inflated, false self-love that is actually an overcompensation for a lack of true self-love).
The following are key strategies that are critical in practicing self-love:
1) Consciously choose to be your own best friend. Replace your inner critic with a positive and gentle voice that compassionately coaches you through the trials and tribulations of life. Imagine the grief you will save yourself without the almost incessant criticizing and comparing and instead choosing to tap into the endless source of support that is so readily available.
2) Surround yourself with positive support. Free yourself from toxic relationships and unhealthy life roles by being direct in your communication with others. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Let go of relationships that constrain you and bring you down. Set healthy boundaries, say "no" when you need to, and create space for joy and love in your life. Spend time with people who believe in you and want the best for you.
3) Live your life in a way that is congruent with who you truly are. Be authentic and honest with yourself and others. Don't pretend to be somebody you aren't just to live up to somebody else's standards. Also, don't live your life for somebody else. Be open and real. Free yourself from the opinions of others and care more about if you feel comfortable in your own skin.
4) Invest time, energy and resources in your dreams. Quite frankly, you will experience a slow psychological death and much self-loathing if you don't. You deserve to have your dreams come to fruition and you are more than capable and deserving. Align yourself with your highest vision. Create a plan with measurable objectives, a support team and a timeline. Make your dreams your reality.
5) Practice gratitude for your strengths, blessings and gifts and all you have done well. Look at the good parts. Do not compare yourself to others. Do not give your power away. Journal your accomplishments.
6) Celebrate your body. Bathe it, feed it, decorate it with clothes and jewelry you like, and honor it with healthy decisions. Regularly and consciously breathe and stretch. Eat nutritious and delicious food and savor it. Make sure your body gets proper rest and exercise. Ensure your body has passionate sex. Practice mindfulness to focus your awareness on the feeling of aliveness from within the body.
7) Make your home a sanctuary. Free yourself of clutter. Create space for light. Select a place for everything. Keep only objects that have meaning, use or are beautiful to you. Make is feel safe and comfortable and a place you want to be. Ensure your home reflects who you are.
8) Manage your money. Money is a resource that ebbs and flows like water. Ensure there is a healthy balance of earning versus spending and that you have financial peace. Allow abundance into your life and become conscious of your spending. Enlist the help of others as needed.
9) Gift yourself with time and space. Unplug from technology. Do not over schedule yourself. Prioritize time for self-care like meditation, yoga and leisure.
10) Choose a "Self-Love Hero." Know somebody who practices these strategies well? Emulate him or her. Make a commitment to a daily practice towards self-love. Keep a journal. As my yoga teacher says, "With practice, your limits move away."
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection" -- Buddha
This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.