Every woman has struggled with loving herself at one point. It’s easy to compare the way you look and feel to other women around you, especially when you feel like they have something you don’t.  Maybe you think they’re prettier or have a better job. Well, they don’t. You are the most beautiful person you’ll ever know. Why? Because you get to shape yourself into everything that you feel you’re worth. You control who you are, who you become, how others see you, and (most importantly) how you see yourself.

I’m just as guilty as every other woman for doubting myself. I would constantly compare myself to other women and pick out all my flaws–flaws they didn’t have (or, moreso, ones I didn’t think they had). It led to struggles of self-image, self-confidence, and even caused a few bumps in my relationship. It’s true what they say: you’re your own worst enemy. Others see you differently than you see yourself. The flaws you think you have aren’t always as bad as you make them out to be. People would tell me all the time that I needed to love myself more, give myself more credit. Well, frankly, it’s hard. Women who are incredibly confident in their own skin don’t understand how difficult it can be to love yourself when you’re constantly seeing other people as “better.”

But it can all change. All it takes is one step after another until you find yourself accepting compliments, feeling confident in fancy clothes and sweatpants, and even loving the way you look when you’re too lazy to put on makeup. I know as well as anyone how hard it can be to take those first few steps. So, let’s take them together.

5 Ways to Love Yourself

Do something for someone else. It’s simple. It doesn’t have to be some big, grand deed. Help someone find something, hold the door open for a few people, help a coworker with a problem at work. You don’t need to convince yourself that you’re a good person (you already know you are), but little acts of kindness make you feel like you did something good for the world, even if it’s just one person’s world. Putting others before yourself is humbling and gives you a sense of gratitude. Not only will you know you’re a good person, but you’ll feel like it. Have you recently fought with someone close to you? Make more of an effort to fix it. It will take a load of both of your shoulders and is guaranteed to make their day a little easier. Maybe your significant other asked you to accompany them on some errands or to some boring event that you don’t want to go to. Do it. Yes, you might think it’s boring. But think of how happy you’re making them by being there for them. The possibilities for this one are endless–and it’s so easy to do.

Get dressed up. One of the things I love doing when I’m going through a rough time is wearing fancy clothes wherever I want and not caring what others think. I adore putting on gorgeous dresses and fancy shoes. I feel like I look my best in them, and I always get compliments when I go out. Sometimes, I throw them on just to try them on then take them off and put sweats on. But for a brief moment: I feel beautiful. Knowing how great you look in your best clothes boosts your confidence and makes you love your body. Take the little black dress out of your closet and pair it with those black, strappy stilettos. Put on that statement necklace you’ve been dying to wear, and treat your hair to a little curl. Add a little red to your lips, look in the mirror, and leave the house with your head held high.

inspirational love quotes life-weSTAccept your flaws. Everyone’s got something they don’t like about themselves. For instance, I don’t like my height. It makes my figure seem a bit disproportionate–as if someone who’s only five-feet tall shouldn’t have the body shape I do. But that’s not true. Just because I don’t like it about myself doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it. Your flaws are there to remind you that everyone has them and that no one is perfect, they aren’t there to make you look down on yourself. Your flaws are part of what makes you you. They’re part of what makes you beautiful, endearing, attractive, funny, kind…. The list goes on. The little imperfections make you beautifully unique, not hideous. One day, you’ll find someone who not only sees your flaws, but loves them and sees them as part of what makes you perfect. So… Love them. Embrace them. They aren’t going anywhere.

Stop putting yourself down. It doesn’t help anyone, especially you. All it does it let you see yourself in a bad light. It blocks you from realizing all the good qualities you’ve got. One of the biggest things women look down on themselves for is their clothing size. I’ve done it, too. But it doesn’t measure your worth. It’s an irrelevant scale designed to make women strive to be something unachievable, something they’re not. The fact-of-the-matter is, we all come from a different set of genes. We aren’t designed to look the same. There’s no rule book out there that says what a woman has to look like in order to be attractive and beautiful. Everyone has different tastes–and the people who realize this are the ones worth your time. You don’t need to insult yourself or strive to be different just because you saw someone who you thought you should look like or someone made some comment about you. They don’t know you. Whenever someone would say something about the way I looked, my mom would tell me it was because they were jealous. She may have just said that because she’s my mom, but I think she was right. No matter what we look like, we’re always going to see someone who we get jealous of. But that doesn’t lessen our self-worth. Put-downs don’t do anything for anyone. You don’t deserve them, so don’t give them to yourself. Replace every put-down with a compliment and tell yourself, “I love you.” It may sound cheesy, but I’ve tried it… It works.

Accept compliments. Quit telling yourself that they’re only saying that because they feel like they have to, not because they really think it. I promise you, that’s not the case. Most people don’t throw compliments around. When they compliment that lace-white dress or the braided updo you’re rocking for the day, they mean it. Accept it. Say thank you, maybe give a compliment back, and repeat the compliment you were given to yourself during the day. The more you remember it, the more you’ll accept it, and you’ll start to believe it’s true.

Don’t be afraid to take these steps. Believe me, I know it’s not as easy as other people make it look and I know it’s easy to revert back to old habits. But the beauty of it is that once you do these things consistently, they become the habit. Everything from there on out is a lot easier.