What Does It Mean to Love Yourself?

I was tagged in a Facebook post the other day. One of the women who participated in The Well-Nourished Goddess telesummit wanted me to answer a question posed in one of her other groups about what self-love is and how you go about actually doing it.

I love this question for a number of reasons:

  1. Self-love is something that many of us struggle with (enter feelings of not enoughness and our inner critic in whatever form she's decided to show up in at this moment).
  2. I love that more and more women are talking about this topic and being vulnerable about their own struggles – I think when we are vulnerable in places and with people that we feel safe, we give others permission to do the same. 
  3. My definition of self-love keeps changing, evolving, deepening – and that Facebook post challenged me to examine my own definition of self-love and my self-loving actions lately. 

When I first started my own journey back to self-love, I had just gotten divorced, turned 40, broken my heel for the second time in a year, and admitted I'd had an eating disorder for two decades. Can anyone say “uphill battle?” 🙂

A friend of mine had given me Christine Arylo's book Madly in Love with Me a few years prior and I used the definition of self-love Christine gave in her book as my anchor as I slowly started to climb my way back to self-love. While I still think it was a great place for me to start my journey and helped me immensely, at some point along the way, I realized that I needed my own definition of self-love. Rather than using someone’s “prescription” for getting back to self-love, I needed to create my own path. So I started to play with that definition of self-love and what it truly meant for me.

“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti”

I realized over the years that, rather than trying to come up with a textbook-sounding definition, for me, self-love needed to be more about my actions (how I spoke to and about myself, how I treated myself and allowed others to treat me) than about the way I tried to describe self-love and what it meant. So instead of a definition, I offer you this: a manifesto on what it means for me to be a self-loving woman (and yes, if you ask me again in a year, things may have changed slightly and that's okay).

A self-loving woman (in no particular order):

  • Listens to her body and gives it what it needs
  • Speaks kindly to herself and about herself
  • Puts her own health/sanity/self-care at the top of her priority list because she realizes that she can’t be of service if she’s depleted
  • Finds her own best harmony/balance in time spent in work, her various roles and obligations, play, relaxation, fun, and self-care
  • Is grateful for what she has
  • Is joyful because she makes being joy-full a priority
  • Walks her own unique path of purpose – she lives on purpose, speaks on purpose, and makes decisions on purpose that feel in alignment with her Soul
  • Is mindful of how she treats herself and others
  • Asks for help and support when she needs it and allows herself to receive it
  • Goes for her dreams because she knows that: 1) they matter and 2) we need her unique gifts in the world and we need her to show up and be herself
  • Takes exquisite care of herself and makes sure her needs are getting met consistently
  • Is truly grateful for all of the unique experiences her life brings her, even the ones that are challenging because she knows that with challenge comes growth
  • Stands in her power and speaks her truth with gracious, but firm conviction
  • Makes sure she feels grounded and rooted in her life and knows how to get back to that place when she gets knocked off course by life’s little mishaps
  • Is able to find stillness and calmness at her center no matter what is going on outside because she has learned to be her own pillar of strength
  • Is happy with who she is
  • Shows up for herself because she knows she is absolutely worth it!
  • Respects herself, her judgement and her values, and expects that same respect from those she is in relationship with or she removes herself from those disrespectful or toxic relationships/ situations
  • Accepts that she will make mistakes, but doesn’t beat herself up over them
  • Loves and accepts herself, even when she feels like she’s made a “mis-take” because she’s learned the art of self-forgiveness and knows that with each of life’s little lessons, she learns
  • Shows herself the same love and compassion that she would show her best friend/child/loved one because she’s realized that, like everyone else, she is only human – perfectly imperfect just the way she is

Am I “perfect” at the things on this list? Of course not (see “Accepts that she will make mistakes, but doesn’t beat herself up over them” – sometimes the reality is that is more of a “try really hard not to beat myself up over them” – I’m only human!). But this gives me something to strive for and reminds me that I am worth taking exquisite care of because I am worthy of my own love as much as anyone else is. It also reminds me that it’s ultimately up to me to make sure I am getting my needs met.

What does being a self-loving woman mean to you? I’d love to find out! Let me know in the comments below.

If you are not sure where to begin and need a little help returning to a place of self-love as you figure out what self-love means to you, feel free to check out my ecourse Learn to Love Yourself Again. You can do this. You are so worth it!




  • Michelle says:

    Thank You so much for a great comprehensive, Self Love article. I love this topic and have so enjoyed your sharing, transparency and wisdom along your journey. It has truly been invaluable to me!

    Off the top of my head; I thought I would add 2 things:

    1- Make conscious daily time for self love activity…whether 1 minute, 1 hour or 1 day. I use the word conscious because I feel it is important for us to slow down and really delve into the experience to get maximum benefits. Most of us do not even know what self love is much less how to do it (as this article addresses) much less how vital, impactful and healthy it really is for us mind, body & soul.
    2- Develop a network of others who can support, nurture and love you or remind you to love yourself when you are unable to or have forgotten to.

    I am really glad I came across this today because while I might do some of the things you mentioned above; I definitely want to now incorporate my 2 into my life as a result of reading and commenting here! Funny how that works!!! -)

    Peace & Blessings to You Goddess Mary!

    • Dr Mary Pritchard says:

      Those are great additions, Michelle!! I am so glad you find it helpful. Peace and Blessings to you too! 🙂

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