Almost everyone in the world is on a quest to find true love. From the time we listened to fairytale bedtime stories to swiping right on Tinder, our lives have always included a heavy front-row emphasis on the pursuit of a happy ending.

We’ve been led to believe that finding “the one” will magically solve all our problems and make us whole, as though we’re naturally broken beings.

Loving and putting yourself first in every aspect of your life is crucial. For now though, let’s focus on how this plays a critical role in the dynamics of one’s love life.

Contrary to popular belief, self-love isn’t synonymous with narcissism or vanity. Yes, there’s a thin line between the two, but it stems from harbouring enough respect and worth for yourself that it totally shifts the way you handle different areas of your life.

Achieving self-love is no easy task; it takes A LOT of time engaging in some uncomfortable – maybe even painful – soul-searching. The journey won’t be a straight line rising towards the top; you will experience amazing highs and brutal pitfalls. We need to remember though, that no growth ever occurs in comfort. Here are 10 tips that can get you started.

 1-Get to know yourself

Embarking on the infamous journey of self-discovery is way easier said than done but to start off, get to know your genuine likes and dislikes. Try to figure yourself out, think about what you want to get out of life, what drives your ambitions and what genuinely makes you happy. Over time, you can start to decipher your true authentic self. When you do, you’ll automatically set new and improved criteria for what you’re looking for in your significant other.

 2-Embrace your flaws, accept that you are perfectly imperfect

I know you’ve probably heard “nobody’s perfect” a million and one times already, but here it goes. Your flaws are part of the specific qualities that make you a unique, irreplaceable individual. Excessive self-resentment can lead to self-destructive behaviour. If there’s something that truly bothers you about yourself, try and see how you can improve it or practically work around it.

 3-Face your past and accept your mistakes

It’s hard to revisit the skeletons in our closet, but unless we come to terms with our past and acknowledge the lessons we’ve learned from it, it’ll haunt us for the rest of our life. Mistakes are a pain, but they only make us wiser. If we look at them differently, they can help shape us into better people, and eventually, better partners. Running away from our past will only make us feel worse about ourselves. So, take responsibility for your mistakes, and don’t be afraid of making new ones.

 4-Stand up for yourself

If you’re being disrespected or someone is being plain rude to you, don’t be afraid to fiercely defend yourself. You shouldn’t expect anyone to come to your rescue when you feel yourself getting stepped on. You are not weak, nor are you defenceless. You are the one who gets to decide how others will respect and act towards you, harness that power and set your boundaries accordingly.

 5-Trust your intuition

No one in this world knows what truly is best for you more than you do. Ignore all the mental clutter and pretentious unsolicited advice you get from people. Listen to your gut instinct, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go along with it. Trust yourself enough to take charge of your life without requiring approval from someone else.

 6-Pamper yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and forget to take care of ourselves. Slow down for a while, and try to nourish yourself from the inside out. Join a workout group, take some time out to recharge, give yourself a spa day, start consuming a healthy diet, or buy that gorgeous pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for so long.

 7-Learn how to enjoy alone time

Make sure your life doesn’t revolve around your significant other. Feeling like you need that person in order to function grants them extensive power over you and your life. If they walk out, you shouldn’t feel like your world has crumbled. Don’t ignore the importance of building a solid foundation that is totally unrelated to your love life. Master the art of independence. Reflect over your thoughts and feelings away from the noise you constantly surround yourself with. Find comfort in solitude; try to appreciate your own company.

 8-Detach yourself from toxic environments

That includes unhealthy friendships, co-dependent relationships and unfulfilling jobs/studies. Distance yourself from whatever you feel is holding you back from your potential. Once you back away from the elements that drain you, you can finally start to thrive.

 9-Cut out the need for external validation

The more you depend on others for approval, the more you compromise your own self to please them. Work on building enough self-confidence to be so sure of who you are and what you stand for that you don’t require confirmation or praise from other people to feel good about yourself. You don’t need to confirm what you already know. Maybe this is caused by some underlying unmet need or a void you’re trying to fill; find out what it is, what drives it, and try to feed it in a healthy way. Inner validation should be your primary source of validation.