How To Start A Self Love Journey For Beginners

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Congratulations on taking the first step of learning how to start your self love journey! Read this blog post to learn more on how to navigate the journey of self love.

how to start a self love journey

To give a disclaimer before I begin: I’m young AF. I’m in my early 20s and I mainly know how to start a self love journey from a young person’s perspective. It might be difficult to learn from me if you are older. I feel so weird and awkward giving my 30-something-year-old cousins advice, so… I don’t ever want to be a 20-something life coach. I want to give advice about self love. I truly know how to advise teenagers and 20-somethings.

Disclaimer 2: I honestly recommend getting a therapist. Finding a therapist that works for you does wonderful things for your mental health. After reading this post, please Google, “how to find a therapist” because therapy changed my self-esteem and anxiety tremendously.

I learned that reading all the posts and IG self love quotes is one step out of many when on a self love journey. A self love journey is also continuous.

How I Started My Self Love Journey

When I turned 20, I told myself that I’m not spending my 20s hating myself just like I did when I was a teenager. I was exhausted and tired of crying myself to sleep, fitting beauty standards that weren’t ever meant for me to fit, overworking, feeling like everyone else is better and prettier than me, and everything else. I was mentally, physically, spiritually, and even somehow mathematically exhausted.

I was closing my third semester of college and I had the worst semester ever. I was trying to fit into a crowd that wasn’t ever going to accept me, took a lot of my professor’s shi*ty attitudes personally, overworking myself to please my then-boss, and felt ugly. It seems like everyone was living their best life and I wasn’t. I felt like a complete failure.

Self love was something I always wanted. I honestly don’t want a million dollars or to be the smartest person in the world or the prettiest either. I want to be so confident and to love myself fully. You have no idea how jealous (and I admit it) I get of people who are so confident (and not the kind of confidence that’s a front to impress others) and full of self-love.

But being a self love journey never honestly ends. It’s almost like a muscle that we always have to take care of.

Here are my self love journey tips:

How To Start a Self Love Journey

1. Realizing that you want to change & that you are worthy of self love.

Like I mentioned before, I was tired of hating myself. Hating myself was not getting me anyway and I finally realized it. I read a quote once that went like this, “Hating yourself isn’t getting you anywhere; why not try loving yourself.”

We are generally harder on ourselves and it’s so hard to love ourselves. I know. I’m still learning how to love myself.

Related: 100 Positive Affirmations for Self Love To Help You Love Yourself

2. Take time to get to know yourself.

This part of the self love journey can go in many directions, but it’s important to know who you want to love aka YOU. Figure out what you like and what you dislike. Create boundaries. Learn your love language.

This part of the self love journey is crucial. I recommend that everyone takes the time to figure out who they are and learn how to accept themselves. It’s difficult and I’m still trying to accept myself (even after a year after writing this blog post).

3. Take care of your body.

Yes, that includes exercising and eating healthier. I can honestly say that exercising has made me feel more confident about myself. A good 30 minutes of exercising changes my whole day and mood. I may not have my ideal body yet but the fact that my body can move, stretch, sweat, etc. is so amazing.

Aside from exercising, you should change your diet to healthier options. I know that may be a pain in the butt to change your whole diet, but it’s worth it. The foods you eat affect your mood and energy. It is also important to remember in order to care about your body, you have to nourish it. Yes, it’s nice to eat doughnuts and pizza now and then, but it shouldn’t be every day.

Finally, you also need rest. Resting is a huge challenge for me because I love working and doing my hobbies. I find that sometimes resting is the best option for me. If someone you love was working all night until they couldn’t keep their eyes open, you’d most likely tell them that they need to go to bed. You have to know when to tell yourself that.

Related: Beginner Yoga Equipment You Need Before Your First Yoga Class

4. Start a gratitude journal.

Gratitude is one of the best emotions you can have. When I started my self love journey, I used a small notebook. Now I can probably fill up a college-ruled notebook with things I like about myself and what I’m grateful for. I also included external things and I remember thinking about how great my old college apartment was during my senior year of college and how grateful I was for it.

Understanding what gratitude is can help you on your self love journey because of how you appreciate what you already have.

Update: I also find gratitude helps out a lot more when you’re consuming tons of social media, especially TikTok or Instagram because of the consumerism and influencers constantly telling you that you need this product or that product or need this to look better. Sure, there are products that may help you, but most of the time influencers recommend products for the check—let’s be honest.

5. Write a list of things you like about yourself.

I know this sounds hard, especially in the beginning. But when I first started my self-love journey, I made myself write a page of things I liked about myself. I challenged myself. Even if I struggled, I finished the page. It’s one of the self love habits that is the hardest. Even though I don’t do it that much anymore, it’s a nice way to begin. You have to like something about yourself (even if it is your taste in music or the way you can draw or if you can do a backflip).

Also, a thing that helped me with my self-esteem is that I realized that I never hated myself when I was younger. I learned how to hate the littlest things about myself due to society’s beauty standards and being told simple things such as hairy legs is a flaw. Remember those beauty companies have to make money so they created random flaws (e.g. thigh gaps, hip dips, etc.) I also realized that most of my insecurities also stem from other people projecting their own onto me.

6. Start with small habits of kindness toward yourself.

Take yourself on dates. Buy things that you love. Save money for a nice vacation. It’s the little things that count. Pay off your credit cards. I recommend getting into the habit of creating habits to help you achieve the life you want. One book that changed my view of habits was Atomic Habits by James Clear. It helps you realize that habits can be good or bad and how doing a small thing every day can yield huge results.

Related: 9 Lessons from Atomic Habits that I Wish I Knew Earlier

7. Work on self-talk.

This is the BIGGEST change I made in my self-love journey. It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I learned what self-talk was. Self-talk essentially is the way that we talk to ourselves. We are always going to be our biggest critics. Changing my self-talk is one self love technique that I always have to do. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not as critical of myself, but there are times when I feel pressured and self-reject myself, especially at my first job after college.

I recommend trying to find evidence for your thoughts and starting to question them. For example, if you consistently think everyone hates you at your job, then figure out if they really do. I remember this one of the things I was telling myself, but I didn’t have any evidence. I was assuming and catastrophizing (more terms from my therapist).

Basically, work on how you talk to yourself. Most of the thoughts that we have are very black and white or extreme. A majority of our thoughts are not even our own. Our brain picks up on so much each day. 99% of the time people project their insecurities, values, fear, and opinions on us. Speak kindly to yourself. It’s enough that the world makes things hard, don’t add to it….which adds to my next point.

8. Be easier on yourself.

As I mentioned before, it’s hard to love yourself. In a world where we are taught that our natural features are flaws and that some random product will fix it, it’s just hard. It’s not until you realize that most of our flaws aren’t flaws that it gets easier. Society creates such rigid, unrealistic beauty standards that should not even exist. We’re humans. We are going to make mistakes. Most things are out of our control, anyway. We are going to not look perfect. Perfection does not exist.

Simply, be easier on yourself. Do not give yourself impossible expectations.

Related: 100 Self Care Ideas To Get You Started in Practicing Self Care

9. Reject society’s expectations and pressures and follow your own path.

One of the key steps of being on a self love journey is rejecting society’s expectations for your age, beauty, and lifestyle. Like I mentioned before, society has unrealistic beauty standards and expectations for us. Most of these expectations are outdated and only for the extremely wealthy, lucky, and/or intelligent. We only see the special .00001% of people.

Quit comparing yourself to the 19-year-old millionaire. They probably did not have fun during their teens and had to work every day or had a trust fund.

Quit comparing yourself to the ultra-beautiful girl on Instagram. She may have plastic surgery. She maybe hates her body. Maybe she uses Photoshop (which a lot of influencers use, so PLEASE DON’T COMPARE.)

Quit being jealous of the popular friend group at your school. They probably do not even like each other and only tolerate each other for convenience.

Quit comparing. It steals the joy.

Instead, figure out your own path in life. Again, find yourself. Learn what you love and dislike. If you don’t want a corporate job, then find another job path. Learn how to ignore society’s impossible standards. Also, learn that Instagram and most social media are just people’s highlight reels. Gone are the days of casual and fun social media, sadly.

Related: The Best 30 Day Social Media Detox Guide (+ Free Printable)

10. Surround yourself with positivity.

Listen to motivational videos, follow self love and body positivity accounts on social media, unfollow anyone who makes you feel unworthy, and keep a Pinterest board just for positive quotes. Fight negativity with positivity. Learn how to be realistic with your thoughts and actions instead of jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst. Think about a positive outcome and if that’s too hard for you at first, think of neutrality.

To add, also don’t be delusional about your positivity or get into toxic positivity. I prefer to find practical positivity. For example, I may not be the best, but I’m a hard worker and my best is enough. I’m not the best at this task today, but I can learn how to get better if I keep trying.

Update: I know that a lot of self love prompts and quotes turn into this “Everyone loves me” or “I’m the most beautiful or attractive in the room,” which is fine. I do not want to diss anyone who likes this type of content. But that is a long way from first starting out loving yourself and isn’t addressing if you love yourself internally even if you’re not the most attractive in the room. Because there will be times when you simply aren’t and are you going to be fine with that? I honestly feel like it’s super surface-level. This is a new trend I’ve seen everywhere on social media and think it can be more useful. Instead, the quote can be “I love me,” “I’m beautiful in my own way” or “I’m beautiful according to my personalized beauty standards.”

11. Learn your love language.

During my first self love journey, I wrote down affirmations daily and journaled a lot. I also listened to positive videos. This helped me a lot because my love language is words of affirmation.

Find out what your love language is and self love exercises and activities for it.

Related: How To Use Your Love Language for Self Love & Self Care

12. Realizing that material items don’t mean much.

A ton of self love/self care content centers on buying this and that. But I will tell you that I got caught in spending tons of money on material items that later did not matter. Yes, buy those face masks for Self Care Sunday and buy yourself a nice outfit now and then.

But DO NOT rely on materialism. A lot of self love and care content tells you to buy whatever. But are you coping with life through shopping sprees and retail therapy?

You don’t need a designer bag or fancy sports car for self love. You need to work on your thoughts, habits, and self image.

13. Set standards for every aspect of your life.

It’s common for people to say set standards for dating, but really we need standards everywhere. Even for things such as eating, socializing, and how you treat yourself. One thing that was personally hard for me was sticking to my standards. If I didn’t want to buy produce at a certain store, I didn’t. It’s hard when you have limited options, but have standards.

This even goes as far as what thoughts you tolerate and the habits you have. Create standards for both external and internal things. It’s not being picky, but it’s realizing what you like and what you don’t want. You don’t owe anyone anything.

You don’t have to work at this job. You don’t have to lower your dating standards. You don’t have to hang out with those people. Set standards and stick to them.

14. Do a lot of self-reflecting.

Journal. Journal. Journal. Be with yourself. This is where you truly learn about yourself. Question your insecurities and projections. Figure out if you are settling or if you are leveling up.

15. Realize that going on a self love journey is not easy.

There is a lot of heartbreak and healing when it comes to a self love journey. You can look up all the self love activities and tips, but you need to realize that it takes commitment and work. It’s not easy. You’ll have times when you realize that you felt like you wasted so much time. You’ll realize that you need to go back to the drawing board. There are times when you think you’re good, but really not. You really need to sit back and realize that you are taking a huge step towards undoing a lot of what you learned and changing habits.

16. Commit to self love.

Over the summer, I realized I needed to adjust and get back on my self love journey. 2020 was rough and 2021 was rougher for me. I graduated college and had tons of anxiety because I was distracting myself from the fact that I was no longer a student and my life was centered around being a student. I had a lot of regrets and felt like a failure. I was constantly comparing and looking at people’s Instagram.

I failed to commit to self love and putting myself first. I was so caught up in what others were doing that I wasn’t even realizing the things I had. I lacked patience, abundance, and self-compassion.

I recommend really sitting and realizing that self love is a commitment. It’s a muscle that you have to work out. It’s like a plant that you have to water. It’s realizing that self love isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.

17. Self love is continuous.

Originally, I wrote this blog post back in 2021, and about a year and a half later, things later. I’m older, a little wiser, and more of an adult. I think that now I realize that a self love journey is really a journey. It never stops. Similar to the last point, self love is a commitment and it’s an important commitment that we promise ourselves. Now, that I’m looking back and reflecting, I think that we always need to check in ourselves. I thought for a while that I was at peak self love and that it’ll stay, but it dropped and I had to get back on a focused self love path. I think that we need to realize that self love isn’t a one time thing we do, but it should be ingrained in our habits and for us to continuously work on.


Overall, I recommend starting out with a 30-day self love journey challenge and reflecting on it. Take it easy and be easy on yourself.


Kinda optional:

Also, I recommend listening to BTS’s Love Yourself album or even one song. This album honestly is what made me revive my self-love journey over the summer. I listen to that album a lot to remind myself that I have reasons to love myself. I recommend checking out my blog post about BTS self-love songs because their music honestly is so moving and deeper than you’d ever expect.

Found this post useful? Remember to pin it! ⬇️

how to start a self love journey

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Hi, my name is Ariel. I like self care, Spanish guitars, boybands, and miss travelling. I also am writing a book...kinda. Welcome to my lifestyle blog.

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