As an older woman, it can sometimes feel hard to love yourself. You don’t even realize that you’re struggling with it, because you’re spending all your love on other people and seeking validation and love from them in return.
You might think that self-love and empowerment are things that happen to other older women, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all.
Here are five tips on how you can start loving yourself today — and some reasons why we value the love of other people over ourselves.
1. Save some love for yourself
As women, we often have our identities intrinsically linked to the people around us. If you have a family, you’re a wife and mother; you’re the daughter of elderly parents that need care as they get older. Perhaps you’re a grandmother with the joy of small children in your life.
Whatever your situation, chances are that you love and care for the family around you: helping and encouraging them, supporting their dreams and careers, fixing problems, and being their emotional crutch when they need it.
And while this is amazing, it sometimes means that we can forget about our own dreams and emotional needs. We spend all our love on other people, and we often value the love of them over ourselves. We just want everyone else to be happy around us — sometimes to our personal detriment.
So the first tip is to save some love for yourself. Love and appreciate you for you — as a unique identity, not purely as someone that makes up other people’s identities.
Do things for yourself that you will enjoy and benefit from, not just in the service of others (even if they are your husband or kids!). Take some “me” time, treat yourself to the things you love, and spend time doing things you enjoy — whether it’s taking up old hobbies or discovering new passions. You can get some ideas from Organise My House. So treat yourself — you deserve it.
2. Never settle — you’re worth more
One of the best ways you can show love to yourself is to not settle.
Just because you’ve reached a certain age in your life doesn’t mean you just settle for “okay” because that’s all you think you deserve. Whether it’s a partner who takes you for granted, friends who don’t treat you well, a job where your worth isn’t recognized, or you just feel stagnant in the life you’re living, you deserve better.
You’re worth much more than that — so if something isn’t quite right, then you need to confront it and change that.
Sometimes, it might take a helping hand to shake things up and make positive changes. You could speak to someone you trust — your partner or a friend — to help you get a fresh perspective. You could even go professional with breakthrough coaching from a wellness expert or life coach who could help you to set goals and make positive changes in your life.
3. Embrace this stage of your life
This is a great mantra: make the rest of your life the best of your life.
If you’re over 50, it can sometimes feel like you’ve already peaked. The best has already happened; you’ve gotten married, had kids, excelled in your career, bought a house, settled down… Everything’s already been done, so what else is there to look forward to?!
Well, the rest of your life! Yes, this stage is different, and the pace is slightly slower, but there are so many exciting and fun things to look forward to.
Instead of dwelling on the past or feeling like there’s nothing else to look forward to, embrace this later stage of your life. Learn to love where you are, and everything it brings — more time with your family, time to yourself, freedom to travel or take up new pastimes…
Embracing where you are in life and being present will help you to love yourself too.
4. Treat yourself with kindness (as you would treat others)
For some reason, we have a really hard time treating ourselves with kindness. We don’t have any issue with being kind and respectful to other people, but we reserve the harshest criticism for ourselves.
This extends to almost everything in our lives — our appearance (we stand in front of the mirror scrutinizing every flaw); our actions (asking ourselves over and over why we said or did something), our relationships with other people (“Do they really like me? Have I done something wrong?”). The list goes on and on….
It’s time to start treating yourself with kindness, as this Psychology Today article suggests. Recognize your strengths and great qualities. Perhaps you’re emotionally strong or empathetic, or you’ve got an amazing sense of humor. Maybe you’re smart or you’re proud of your unique style. Whatever your strengths are, celebrate them.
And lastly, let yourself off the hook for any mistakes and imperfections. You’re only human, after all. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for any actions you’re not proud of, but don’t be too hard on yourself — your imperfections might be part of you but they don’t define you.
5. Don’t compare yourself to other people
Whatever stage of life we’re in, we compare ourselves to other people constantly. In school, you’re envious of friends with better grades, or kids who seem effortlessly cool. As you get older, you look around at the friends who are starting to get married or appear to be thriving in their chosen careers, and you wonder when it will be your turn.
And when we’re older, we look at the people around us and covert their apparent lack of aging, or their seemingly perfect family, or their lavish retirement travel plans.
Try to get out of the habit of comparing yourself to other people and what they’re doing in their lives. We’re all on our different journeys, and none of us are better or worse than each other. Take stock and be grateful for what you have — finding comfort and value in your own life will help you to accept and love yourself more.
Loving yourself doesn’t always come easily. All too often, we value other people’s love over our own, and we forget to save some love for ourselves. Follow these five tips to help you love yourself — this is your chance to connect with your inner self and recognize your power.