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21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.

Why then is this so difficult to do?

Your Family of Origin

I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.

I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.

For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out-of-control and rebellious.

I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.

I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.

I was 27 years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.

After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.

Cultural Influences

We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.

If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.

Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”

Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.

Shift Your Self-Perception

Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness, , and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.

You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.

Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, moment by moment ongoing process.

It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.

Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.

1. Begin your day with love (not technology). Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.

2. Take time to meditate and journal. Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.

3. Talk yourself happy. Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-abuse of any form, move the band to your left wrist.

4. Get emotionally honest. Let of go of numbing your feelings.Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.

5. Expand your interests. Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.

6. Enjoy life enhancing activities. Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.

7. Become willing to surrender. Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.

8. Work on personal and spiritual development. Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.

9. Own your potential. Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.

10. Be patient with yourself. Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and the Universe will reward you.

11. Live in appreciation. Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectly perfect self.

12. Be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.

13. Do what honors and respects you. Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.

14. Accept uncertainty. Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.

15. Forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best.)

16. Discover the power of fun. Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”

17. Be real. Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).

18. Focus on the positive. Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.

19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection. Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”

20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth. Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.

21. Seek professional help. Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.

Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and within each of us.

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About Tess Marshall

Tess Marshall M.A. is a risk taker, author, and courage coach with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Register early for her new e-Course, “30 Days of Bold” at her blog The Bold Life, and learn how to live in the bold zone!

Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Let go of the past and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • John Sherry

    Tess, your 21 tips made me feel like coming of age and coming alive. One word is weaved through the post constantly and that is ‘your’ i.e. it’s both down to us and up to us. Life really is self-permission living so it’s ours to make or break. Thanks for the impetus to encouarge us to be true creators for our true selves.

  • Shann

    Tess, Thanks for a great post. When we are mindful of the present moment and allow for self-love, the whole world opens up, our hearts open and love comes pouring in.

  • Joshua

    “You have a right to an awesome life.” Potentially the most powerful statement and one post people forget daily.

  • Beth Gallagher

    Thanks for this! It comes at a perfect time for me, and I’m going to print it & read it daily. :)

  • Amory Ann

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve just begun a journey into therapy as well as attending codependents anonymous, which was a difficult leap to take. I hope through it all, I come out capable of loving myself (more) from the inside.

  • Joan Gutierrez

    Beatiful post and just what I need to meditate on today As I officially enter into the next phase of my life through the space time portal of a recent layoff. Thank you

  • Ali

    Tess, this is such an awesome and insightful post, I really enjoyed it! Each of those 21 tips are extremely helpful, I especially enjoyed number 7. Such a great message, thank you for posting, this came at such great timing for me.

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  • Matt R

    Accepting uncertainty is so important! We tend to be afraid of new opportunities, new adventures, and new experiences because we are afraid of any negative outcomes.
    But once you accept uncertainty, your life will expand!

    So in a way tip 14 can help tip 5 become a reality!

  • Laura

    I enjoyed the fact that you not only shared those wonderful tips but also your story of how you came to understand the importance of them. A post to print & meditate on, most definitely. Bravo Tess & thank you for sharing…

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Yes everything is love when we are in the present moment…hearts wide open!

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Self-permission living. I love the way you put that! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Thanks so much for your meaningful comment. Personal experience always puts meaning in our posts. I appreciate you.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Yes it’s the best way to embrace fear in my world. Everything is uncertain. We’re under the illusion it’s not.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Yes it put’s life in perspective for me when I accept the mystery of life and get out of my own way and desire to control.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    I would think no. 7 would help you with your layoff. My hubs lost his job 2 years ago at 57. We stepped up our practice of all of our spiritual principles and he’s doing better than ever in every area of his life today. Ask yourself, “How good can I allow my life to get?” Then go for it.

  • Tess

    Amory Ann,
    Good for you to be brave enough to take action needed to create a wonderful future for yourself. I’m glad I could be a part of it today. Therapy was the best thing I ever did for myself and family. Even gave me the impetus to get my masters degree in counseling psych.

  • Tess

    I’m glad I could be of help! You are so worthy.

  • Tess

    We’ll all remind each other along the way of our worthiness of our awesome life. It reminds me of the quote about us being angels and we need each others wing to fly. Or something like that!

  • PassingByHigh

    This is great, and i never even read these things.
    I don’t know the authors name, but I know if everyone on the world was like him/her…the world would be a great place.
    Take Care.

  • Aisya Vibhuti

    Hi, I’m Aisya and I find this post incredibly helpful for my current condition. I’m 28 and still struggle to love myself. Last 2 weeks was the peak of my subconscious auto sabotage as the result of me fighting against myself. I already did the last tip on this post and will have the program starts soon. And the other tips are just straight helpful for me getting through my hard times. Thanks so much! Love

  • Aisya Vibhuti

    Hi, I’m Aisya and I find this post incredibly helpful for my current condition. I’m 28 and still struggle to love myself. Last 2 weeks was the peak of my subconscious auto sabotage as the result of me fighting against myself. I already did the last tip on this post and will have the program starts soon. And the other tips are just straight helpful for me getting through my hard times. Thanks so much! Love

  • Mandy Saile of Bijou’s Whimsy

    I love this blog….such good and simple and do-able advice, thanks Tiny Buddha.

  • Catherine

    What a gorgeous post! I love the part about listening to the quiet voice of your intuition. It takes a lot of trial and error to distinguish it from noisy ego, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when you do! And also valuing yourself – such an important lesson.


  • Moon

    Yup, there’s no where you can go or nothing much that you can do, if you do not know how to love and accept yourself for who you are.

  • Waterbaby_roxx

    Great. This made my day :)

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  • Amanda

    This is a list everyone should having on their bedside table or hanging in their office! These tips transcend age, gender, status….
    Lovely, thank you!

  • Rebecca Jean Purcell Ampuero

    Overwhelmingly beautiful!  Thanks, I needed that!

  • Amanda @ 36broadway

    Tess – this is so powerful! I’m thankful I found my way here today, I needed to read these reaffirming ideas today. I need to get better at number 17!

  • LadyTamborine

    Your statement “If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love” hits the nail on the head. 
    It’s been my experience that people for the most part KNOW this but they just don’t practice it. They say they aren’t materialistic yet for some reason “retail therapy” seems to be their drug of choice.
    How does one stop filling the cracks with things…and fill them with self-love? This may be the 40 thousand dollar question.   You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
    Usually this behavior comes from long exposure to unresolved issues.  As you say, “stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture”, was the catalyst of finding your true self.
    Perhaps #21 is the first step. 
    Great post!

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  • Sundancebleu

    Thank you for this!!!!

  • Le mole

    I enjoy the part where you mention about starting your day with love instead of technology. Fact is that lately reading your email first thing in the morning is such a common habit that it’s difficult to quit it. Thoughtful words. Inspired me.

  • Samar Wilson

    The first step towards correction is acceptance of the flaw. It is hard to realize that the flaw lies within us only then can we take steps.

  • شقق للبيع في الاردن

    I enjoy the part where you mention about starting your day with love instead of technology.

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  • Anonymous

    “You deserve to be happy”
    So? So just work hard that means the universe is obliged to deliver your goodies? Yeah, riiiight. The Universe does what it wants. Hard work often isn’t rewarded or aknowledged with anything beyond more work.
    “Expand your interests”? “Travel”? When did this list start requiring vacation time and a living wage? Where can I sign up for that job?

    “Does this honor you”? Ummmmm.. actually, I tend to take the road of “Will this threaten my health insurance or ability to make rent? Could this increase the likelihood of Food Stamps and moving in with my parents?”

    “Be real” No, No, No Grow Up and start smiling for your supper. Life doesn’t owe you a damn thing. Life is a neverending competition for resources, living space, food, attention, love, everything. Our entire culture is based on competition. You may not have to be different to be worthy, but you’d better be good enough just to stay alive.

  • Mary Susan

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  • Mary Susan

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    MoxyMatch website and found the best match of my life.

  • E

    This helped so much!!!!

  • vday blues

    Neat persepctive

  • sharly Machado

    Wow tooo good

  • sharly Machado

    Really good job loved it

  • bathsheba

    would you mind showling pictures of ordiary looking people as having beautiful people illustraet your article is not helpful

  • shug

    Im very thankful for this threw abuse an the growing up without a mother i stop loving myself always thinking i done something wrong or im not goodenough not smarter thin others now im tired i want yo find myself,love myself my relationship my kids are affected by my actions.

  • seance

    This made me cry. Thank you.

  • Terquise

    This post really has me thinking and wanting to better myself and find my true self love within me! Thank you!

  • Angel N

    Thank you, gracias, cheers! <3 xx

  • anna

    Ahhh hard to forgive destroying love of your life. … I hope i will be able one day to stop regreting words i didnt say and that i behaved proud and stubborn toward person who was truly loving me and i was just so stupid to hurt him…i wanted to make him happy and all i did was making him hating me….He was best gift i could get from life. Truly loving,caring,worth trust…yet i was doubting i was checking i was awful… he always belived im good inside but finnaly gave up and lost this thinking. I thought he is only one who rly knows me and still loves me…he sees i may be little “harsh” but inside im senstive…problem is i was too harsh for him finnaly to bear it. …And i could so easly change all…few words,kind words…in correct time instead of staying angry after all he forgave me i should put this anger away and say lets not be angry i love you instead of saying it all makes no sense…. :( He has now someone new…i hope best for him but i wish i could be on her place…even thought he said he would never leave me but i caused it…and i know its true…i crossed all borders….he is easy to compromise,understanding,knows that relationship needs a work he is searching for lifetime never for fun…and i know its hardly possible that he will find someone more “crazy” that i was to give me another chance… :(

  • maphoka hycinth lenkoe

    You are amazing, my goal is to become a psychological counsellor, I have a BA Degree in economics and I don’t even like it, but I am believing for doing what I really love. thanks for being true to your calling(loving being), you inspired me.

  • Ilona Randall

    I always see lots of tips and if I knew HOW to do them, then I’m sure it would be helpful… But hardly does anyone say how to accomplish their tips.

  • Mark Messina

    Tess, you are the best! I love spiritual journeys, yours is excellent! Working towards the self and self worth is the best gift anyone can give themselves. None is greater or lesser than any, and all have purpose unto divine calling. It’s all about love and harmony with all things.

  • shani

    Dear Ms. Marshall,
    I wanted to thank you so much for this post. I read it weekly and I cried the first time after reading. Self love is probably my main journey in life. These concepts are secret treasures of truth that can open up your world if you are wiling to slowly work on them. Timeless post.
    With much gratitude,

  • Simone

    I really needed to read this, thank you!

  • Kor

    I completely understand.

  • suky

    Tess – love this post. I will promote it on my website and get in touch. Everything you say here is on key and I love it! Thanks for sharing x

  • Karishma Singhania

    Well whatever god has planned for you, he did it for you. dont look back and feel the guilt related to why it all happened. Some emotions are not in our control and that makes us complicated. Relationship only works out when you know as well as love yourself. Read this , i hope it opens your mind and clears your confusion

  • LadyBug85

    wow…I can relate on your situation Anna…honestly,I am starting reading ow to love myself…because of A man..I feel so worst..I disrespect myself…and try to destroy it….Now that I read your situation,I feel inspired to move on and face the reality and embrace myself for the hurt that Ived encounter now…I just hope that by reading this post of Thess..It will absorb in my mind…I am trying to practice and make a habit on reading some blogs so that I can challenge myself…That You can do it…everyone can do it…Why cant I? Thanks Anna and Thess for this wonderful and helpful article…. God Bless You Both..and Happiness is to Us… <3

  • Gagan Masoun

    Thanks a lot for sharing this kind of stuff.

  • Rashi

    This helped me a lot. Amazing work

  • Rudy

    A friend told me I didn’t like myself 20 years ago. I blew it off. Now, I’m 43 with a Masters in biology. You say, “Wow. That’s an accomplishment.” Not for me it wasn’t; anyone can do it. Waiting for my first professional job. Work on myself can wait. No, it can’t I just realized. There’s no drug for it, and believe me, I’ve tried them (under doctor’s supervision).

  • Dickface

    ‘Affect’ and ‘effect’ are different words.
    Learn them!

  • Gangsta

    the flaw is nothing but a perception of yourself that you have told yourself over and over again and made it your reality… just like a drug junkies/alcoholics have made themselves believe its a disease they living with….. Grow a pair

  • Alice Marie

    As far as the wrist band…what happens after I move it to my left wrist? Do I move it back if I have another negative thought? Or if I have a positive one?

  • Navneeth

    Tess, that article was wonderful. You say in this post that you looked unkept with bad hair etc. but you look really nice in your picture. And the advice helped me a lot. I was cutting till yesterday till I decided now to do something about it

  • Jamie

    Thank you greatly for this wisdom. I have been feeling stuck in a rut of depression and self-hate. This helps shake free from so much negativity. God bless.

  • CC da Vixen.

    Thanks for this great post very helpful insightful and is something that I knew all along but had forgotten about myself. Due to some painful and traumatizing past events but I am in recovery. Doing my best to transform into that beautiful young lady I once knew.

  • smith

    please don’t be hard on yourself anna..we all make mistakes…it was just a growing experience…..if you were meant to be together then you would be together anyway…you can think and feel like this..itself explains that you are a good person…and remember you can truly love another only when you first love yourself…you cannot hurt others when you love yourself…so it all comes down to loving yourself :)

  • Tania Rachel

    I loved this article. Thank you! Would you mind if I put a link to this article in a blog that I am writing?

  • David

    This is excellent! Thank you. I know and practice these things but I’ve been off lately. Thanks so much.

  • Johnathan

    This post gives me the most settling feeling on a spiritual plane. I am a drug addict with manic-depressive tendencies. I often can balance the world around me adequately, but I have been feeling the disconnect between myself, my actions and the self-love that is so extremely necessary for a stable place of mind. Thank you Tess Marshall for inspiring me again by chance…

  • LovelyeSpirit

    I agree with every word you said. I also learned to speak love into myself. One thing that I do everyday is say this words, “I have love all over and inside of me, it fulfills and touches every part of me. I have love”. I also find ways to show love every single day whether it is family, friends or a stranger. I try to show love and give because the more you give the more you receive.

  • valerie


  • Kevin Josef

    I’m printing this and I plan to read it every single day for the next 30 days. My coach told me I need to practice self-love and it can be hard to feel it. Thank you for these tools.

  • Asal

    Hi lm amother i have a6year old girl
    Im studing english in univercity
    Idlike to have best time and use all my time to improve my ability ,knowlege and selfconfidens .
    Could you help me.

  • kubasniak

    The best way to live is to be yourself and do what you like and accept it. Dont allow people to put you down by comparing and social pressure. Everybody is the best for themselves ;)

  • Daniel C. Thompson

    People always tell me I have to love myself, which I have never understood. Self-love is like masturbation. It is nowhere near enough.

  • KC2001

    I say Wow too; I’m going through something similar with a man I’ve been with 3 years; he yells at me, tells me to shut up and says he doesn’t care about my feelings, blames me for his wrong behavior… I can go on and on. I don’t do/say things he does even when I’m upset/angry. I’m not perfect for sure. I experienced similar abuse in marriage of 11 years, now divorced. Finding this article has provided so much clarity; letting me know I’m wonderfully made and on the right track to healing/loving myself; emotional abuse is not normal. I now know love is not suppose to hurt!

  • hiimnewatthis

    this made me cry ,.idkwats wrong with me really i know i don’t love myself but i want to change that and its hard

  • Kisses

    I will stop picking myself apart, everyone tells me how lucky and how beautiful I am but every morning I am looking in the mirror hating what I see, reminds me of when Janet Jackson said she didn’t feel beautiful and was surprised that others found her to be so Sexy. My situation is very simular but different than most, get this I HATE BEING SKINNY! Yes you heard me.. crazy right? I am 5’2 about 110-115 pounds and I hate it!!! I try to keep reminding myself that this is how God made me and do not disprespect him by talking about something he took his time to form. But Satan knows how to put thoughts in your head and use others to come at the right time and say..”you are so skinny” or “How much do you weigh?” And that is all I need to screw me up all week. I will start reminding myself what the word of God says about me and focus on that, and not what people say or how I feel at the moment. I am wonderfully made!!

  • crazy one

    I hate myself with passion. I pray to death.
    I cant see the positive in anything. Why? I sleep all day. Refuse to eat for days. Never go out. Reject people wanting in.. your tips are not so easy for people like me

  • ladym

    Look in the mirror and say to yourself…I love you your beautiful say the same about your body….that’s a start

  • ladym

    When going through a break up living in the moment, being grateful and forgiving helps ALLOT ……just focusing on loving me…..thank you!

  • Just do it

    Seek a counselor. You have depression. Go to hot yoga, hike, run or bike> you need natural dopamine’s to be released from regular exercise and your world will start to change.

  • jobean

    I have recently been through a relationship breakup that left me utterly heartbroken, during the time of our initial 12 months of being separated my ex handled it very badly, he never fully moved on, dipping in and out of my life, which I of course allowed as I felt such strong feelings for him, a part of me still does. I have sought advice from all quarters, to help me understand his behaviour, why he changed literally overnight? why he didn’t walk away, why he still kept that connection between us? his behaviour was incredibly hurtful and confusing, a true reflection of his mind. He has now moved on and made a new life, I rarely hear from him, just the odd text asking if I am ok. I am now starting to move on, I release him every day with affirmations, I try to think positively, but I daily have this feeling like a grief that waves over me and I have to work through it, I cry, I pray I affirm. I get up every day hold down a new job, which I enjoy, I have family, grown up children even grandchildren and I participate in the life I have, but there is always this emptiness, this sadness this loss which I find at times unbearable but I get through. I suppose I exist, my heart has been wounded deeper than ever before, but I get up every morning and I get through my day. I want to live again, I want to feel true happiness again. I know I probably sound ungrateful, I have so much love in my world, I have so many people who love me, but the one person who I always wanted to love me, make a life with me is no longer and the pain of that is at times hard to bear. Will my life ever be complete again. I don’t know but I still plough through everyday.

  • Nf

    I cried as I read the 21 steps to discovering your worth. Thank you Tess!