"Love yourself." It sounds like the biggest cliché in the world, and that’s because telling yourself that you need to love yourself has become a cliché. With phrases like, “But if you don’t love yourself, how is anyone else supposed to love you?!” self-love has turned into rolled eyes and the ever-affirmative, “Well, yeah I know that.” Loving yourself has turned into something that we passively accept we are supposed to do, yet is one of those parts of life that should be attended to each and every day.  It’s the root of who we are, and it’s the most important step in figuring out yourself completely. 

Sometimes love can be the word that throws people off this concept — so think about it as a strong appreciation for yourself, of a way to realize that you are worthy and complete without any outside affirmation. It took me a long time to realize that while I liked myself, I didn't really love myself. Did I accept my flaws while praising the things that made up all the good things about myself? The answer was a harsh and resounding no. Then I realized that learning how to love myself was going to be a lengthy process that kicked off with the five points below — these are what have helped me, and I hope they'll help you too.

1. Tell yourself out loud that you love yourself. I’m serious. Put yourself in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and try to say that you love yourself. You might feel absolutely ridiculous, but is it hard for you to do? Did it come out easily? 

2. Remember: It isn’t selfish to love yourself. I wish I could put this on a billboard, ship little cards to my friends, and tattoo this across my forehead. It is not selfish to put yourself first. If you put your needs second, you’re going to suffer. It’s really that simple. Think about it this way: You plant an apple tree in your backyard. It starts to grow and gives you amazing fruit that can feed lots of people including your friends, family, and all your loved ones. If the tree wasn’t taken care of, and didn’t have time to grow, how could it feed everyone else? 

3. Start doing what you love. Want to paint? Learn Greek? Try new beers? If it’s what you love to do, do it every day. Whether it’s for five minutes or all day, do it. Read about what you love. Immerse yourself in the one thing that will be there to back you up when you need the reminder of who you are. 

4. Forgive yourself. I know, easier said than done. Forgiving yourself is an important process of self-love and healing. Holding on to past mistakes is one of the most toxic things human beings can do. Finding forgiveness in yourself and in what you’ve done or haven’t done is something healed with time, but can simply start by reminding yourself that love can heal, as well as teach you how to move forward. Allowing yourself to heal and admitting you need that medicine is crucial.

5. Listen to your intuition. This is the hardest thing to do when it comes to learning about and loving yourself. That voice seems small at first, but allow it to grow. Remember to go with your gut feeling: If something feels wrong at first glance, there’s a good chance it probably is. Let go of the idea that you’re being paranoid, and don’t rely on other’s actions to let you let go of this deeper feeling. Your intuition is too important to ignore because it’s the part of you that loves you unconditionally trying to give you a nudge in the right direction.