Don’t we all want to find love, or be loved? The truth is, before that can happen, we have to be able to look inside ourselves and really love who we are, deep down to our core.

You’ve heard the talk, read it on social media or on television about how essential it is to “love yourself.” But when it comes down to it, do you actually know what “loving yourself” means, or if you’ve finally made it? Are you really walking the walk, or just talking the talk?

Do you strut around in a “warrior” tee only to beat yourself up for the fact that you haven’t made it to the gym in two weeks? Do you tell yourself that you’re the most incredible mom or efficient employee? What kinds of self-doubt do you have? Do you feel great about your body or appearance, your job and your relationships? Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown, sport psychologist, has her top 3 tips for building confidence and finding more love for yours truly.

  1. Be your own biggest fan. This means stopping the criticisms, the name calling, the berating and the beating up you do when things don’t go as planned. Jenni suggests that every time you have a negative or critical thought about yourself, you replace it with something more positive. “The first step is to notice when you have these thoughts, and then to stop them and replace them,” she says. Jenni recommends a reminder such as a simple rubber band around your wrist that you can lightly snap each time you notice a criticism can make you more aware of negative self-talk.
  2. Treat yourself like you’d treat your bestie. Give yourself love, respect and admiration, just as you would a friend, confidante or someone you love. She says that friends would give you a break when you need one and also would know that truthful, helpful feedback can be necessary at times. When feedback is given with loving intentions and kind words rather than as negative criticism or brutal name calling—it can help you keep moving toward your goals.
  3. Act like you’re the tallest, smartest and amazing person in the room, every time. Jenni says that you have to not only imagine and believe that you are incredibly confident and capable, you have to act as if you’ve already taken on the world. Once you act that way, you will be able to do anything you want to do. “Our thoughts determine our actions, and our emotions follow, and so on,” she says. “The more we believe in what we can do, the more we do,” she says. Practice confident, assured behavior by walking into rooms with your shoulders high and introducing yourself to others while thinking “I am smart” or “I am capable.” Remind yourself that that the world is excited to meet you.

 

Jenni says it’s normal to have times where confidence is low and that you don’t always feel so lovable. “Depending on where you are in your life and the different stages, challenges and roads you take, all these things can impact your sense of self,” she says. So, see self love as a long game. Try to stick with it as you do any long-term relationship by putting in work, but also by being supportive, gentle, kind and loving—especially in times of stress and change.