The Greatest Love Of All: How To Foster Self-Love

“Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all” – Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All

Learning to love yourself as the imperfect being you are sometimes ain’t easy to do, but do it we must for the sake of healthy personal relationships and our ability to make smart, healthy choices.

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After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do it?

And I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism, I’m talking about the kind of self-love that spurs you to make healthy life choices and treat yourself with loving kindness. Experts say developing a healthy level of self-esteem will help us to be less sensitive and more able to accept constructive criticism, express ideas in a calm way, be less dependent and more likely to have our needs met.

We’ll also inevitably be much healthier, happier humans, thus improving and strengthening our personal relationships. Maybe it’s a hard life lesson that comes in your 30s – at least, it was for me.

Learn To Love Yourself

The minute I truly learned to be comfortable in my own skin and accept and enjoy my singleton status, I met my husband soon after.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. But it was a hard-fought lesson; instead of looking for someone to fill a void – a self-love deficit, if you will, as I had done in the past – I made the conscious decision to really work on developing my inner happiness and self-love on my solo journey.

self-love, self-esteem, self-acceptance

A clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says our level of self-love is inevitably shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences, as well as personality traits.

“Life can be difficult for someone who has low self-esteem, for example: someone who doesn’t like him/her self, judges him/herself harshly and expects bad things to happen often. Expectations of negativity can be self-fulfilling, so if you anticipate that there will be lots of criticism and stuff-ups in your life, then these things will often happen. You’ll question your own judgement and will consequently make poor decisions that lead to negative outcomes,” she says.

“Conversely, if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’ll be able to face the challenges and difficulties that life throws at you in a positive way. You’ll have more faith in your own choices and decisions. You’ll be able to assertively stand up for your rights without being aggressive and without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or pushed around. You’ll feel comfortable with who you are and like yourself, so you’ll be less susceptible to depression and anxiety.”

self-love, self-esteem, self-acceptance

But how do we foster such self-love and inner confidence if it’s lacking? Here are some handy expert pointers:

  • Be kind to yourself. If something goes wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and determine to do better next time.
  • Avoid people who pull you down – those who are critical and negative towards you. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and in whose presence you feel good about yourself.
  • Give yourself positive messages, don’t self-criticise. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as: “I’m always messing up, I’ve failed again”, challenge this and change your thinking to something more positive like: “I’ve made a mistake, but what can I learn from this? How can I do better in this situation next time?”
  • Learn to see difficulties as problems to be solved rather than catastrophes. Develop your problem-solving skills and you’ll have more confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with difficult situations, thereby developing your self-esteem as a result.

Of course, if this all seems too difficult to achieve on your own, seek help from a professional relationship counsellor or psychologist.
Images, in order, via; and

September 20, 2015

5 Tips For Navigating Major Life Changes

Going through a major life change? You’ll want to read this. Rachael Robertson enjoyed a successful career in PR, before seeing a newspaper ad requiring an expedition leader to the Antarctica. She took a leap of faith and applied.  After a gruelling selection process, Rachael was appointed.  What ensued was an incredible journey that she has documented in her book Leading on the Edge.

In the book Rachael describes her experience in leading a team of 18 strangers into the wilderness of Antarctica for an entire year through nine months of darkness.

Every single one of us faces life-changing decision points throughout our lifetimes.  At these times, it can be exhausting thinking about all the permutations and how the decision might play out. And we can drive ourselves silly with worry and concern. My strongest advice is very simple. Step away from the emotion and focus on the practicalities, it will help clarify your thoughts.

When faced with the decision to lead an expedition, and live and work in Antarctica for a year I followed these five steps. These enabled me to separate fact from fiction and focus on “why not?” rather than the “what if?”

1. Very few decisions in life are irreversible – so make some!
I wasn’t looking for a new job when I saw the advertisement for an Expedition Leader to Antarctica. I had a job I loved yet the ad caught my eye. Always look out for opportunities. Fortune favours the brave so be prepared to get out and take a chance. If you make the jump and you realise it was a mistake then make another decision. Very few decisions are irreversible.

2. Adventure is not without risk
Not every opportunity is worth taking and some are so good that we would be mad not to pursue them. But the hardest decisions are those where the risk and reward are both high and finely balanced. Ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” to you, your relationships, your finances and then ask, “Could I live with that?”

3. Protect the tribe – so the individual thrives
The Emperor penguins in Antarctica have a unique survival technique. In summer they compete, but in winter they collaborate and share the challenges of this extreme environment. They protect the tribe so that each individual can thrive.

When you make a major life change, protect your tribe: your family, friends and community. They will keep you resilient should things get rocky. Keep your relationships strong and protect your tribe.

4. Seek out wise counsel
Speak to other people who have made a similar decision. Learn from their experiences. Before I left for Antarctica I spoke to Diana Patterson (the first woman station leader) and she got me thinking about things that hadn’t occurred to me yet.  Use the knowledge and experience of others to anticipate the challenge ahead.

5. Break it down
Sometimes a decision can seem overwhelming. Moving to Antarctica for a year sure felt like that. So I broke it down into actions and decisions I needed to take – in the next day/week/month. Making lists of actions to be taken including practical steps (writing a will, storing furniture) and personal needs (spending time with family & friends, buying new cold weather clothes) made the decision less enormous. I then celebrated those moments where I achieved the small things. Those moments created momentum and kept me inspired.

Everyone has their Antarctic decisions – a cross road where action must be taken before an opportunity is missed. Back yourself and remember it’s always better to regret what you did, than regret what you didn’t do.


Leading on the Edge by Rachael Robertson, published by Wiley, RRP $29.95. Visit

November 7, 2013