8 Steps to Truly Love Yourself -- and Why It's the Most Selfless Thing You Can Do

05/24/2015 09:40 am ET | Updated May 24, 2016

There seems to be a very beautiful trend taking shape that I am completely devoted to: It is starting to be popular to "be loving." Over the last few years, health, spiritual practices and taking care of mother earth are starting to be considered a hip thing -- rather than a strange "hippie" thing. I am delighted by how this is reflected in the overall consciousness of our planet: We are starting to truly care about ourselves. When I started studying yoga about ten years ago the concept of ahimsa -- non-harming -- was still rather unknown in mainstream society. Meditation, yoga, vegetarianism, conscious consumerism, recycling, all those trends have really only been taking root in the last few years. Of course there are issues, and they need to be addressed. But what matters is the shift that we see happening on a global scale.

What does this tell us about the individuals who make up our societies? It simply means we are starting to genuinely love ourselves more. I know we still have some work to do, but we are on the way. And as on every path, the important thing is: Keep going! Keep loving yourself! Keep pampering yourself and noticing! Keep noticing what is happening around you and how our society and the way we treat our earth is changing. Why? Because taking care of yourself, loving yourself, living your purpose will lift the entire planet.

1. Serve the world by living your purpose

What is your soul's deepest desire? What is your biggest dream for your own life? Chances are that it's not a 9-5 desk job. However, when first pondering this question, your dreams might seem selfish. Start by seeking out those people who celebrate you being big. In most modern societies, this isn't a common behavior (at least not yet) and you'll need a bit of creativity to make it work and yes, there will be a few lonely moments. But the feeling of your soul smiling is priceless. And once you experienced this feeling, it is hard to ever go back.

Consider this powerful quote by Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

2. Empower people by being confident

It ties in with the above point. It's easier to reduce yourself to a being worthy of compassion. People will feel your misery and will try to help you. But on the contrary, how inspiring is it to be around somebody who is genuinely confident? It really makes you feel that you can do it too, right?

3. Stop the gossip. Stop the complaints.

Complaining is a negative energy that locks us into a certain way of thinking. When we look for the negative in others we zoom in on exactly that -- the negative surrounding us. Once we shift our radar towards what inspires us in others we are instead looking for connection, growth, love, joy -- short, uplifting energies. And those are exactly the qualities we will then be able to nurture in our own lives. It takes time and practice to achieve this shift. The road might be bumpy and you might have to redirect some conversations when you first start practicing. But it will get easier and easier, until it turns from a practice into your second nature!

4. Balance of gentleness and firmness

I struggled with anorexia in my teenage years. All through my 20s I learned to nurture my body, and myself, slowly learning to be gentle with myself. My studies of self-development, yoga and Vedanta gave me an increased feeling of being complete in myself. Yet, there was still that nagging negative voice that would keep coming up, a voice that felt so much more powerful than my other, gentle voice. It was only when my best friend and coach Kat Dawes from Nowism recommended to try out a fierce voice whenever I judged myself that I achieved the crucial shift. This practice really helped me to eliminate that last bit I just didn't quite seem to get rid of. Now when my inner voice criticizes myself I know how to be fierce and redirect my thoughts with firmness.

The best thing you can do for yourself is finding that balance for yourself: Find out when you need to give yourself a kick, but also when you need to give yourself a big hug and a bubble bath.

5. Keep promises made to yourself

When you make a promise to yourself KEEP IT! Honor your own word to yourself, whether that is to take a break, go on a holiday, go to a yoga class, eat more healthily, or go to bed early. Imagine what your friend would say if you'd let her down as many times as you let down yourself. To make things easier, find yourself an "accountability buddy." Tell each other the things you have planned to nurture yourself -- and check in with each other once a week to see how you are doing.

6. Nourish and celebrate yourself

Having been completely absorbed in the yogic world for years, I noticed a tendency to discard materialism as something entirely negative. However, I acknowledged to myself how much I love being a girl sometimes, including all those little pretty things such as make-up, clothes and spa treatments. But instead of drawing negative energy out of this "attachment," I achieved a huge internal shift: I started treating those things as a personal act of celebrating my femininity, as an act of gratitude for having been given a healthy body. It's a ceremony to give thanks for the blessings in my life and for having received this life force, a force that needs to be nurtured. You need to be grateful for receiving it and honor it by living your highest purpose.
Therefore, allow yourself to nourish yourself -- no matter if that means going to the gym, getting a pedicure or buying new shoes -- do it with a huge smile on your face.

Living in Bali has been a huge inspiration for me in that regard -- the women in Bali dress up in the most beautiful ways for their ceremonies to go to the temples or to give daily offerings. And then they change into leggings and flip-flops to go to work. It is such a sweet symbol of dressing up - for the divine, not to impress others. I went through an interesting process of reconciling my identity of being a designer with the role of a business woman. I had to truly embrace the fact that my designs are an expression of the divine energy inside me and that sharing this energy with the world is my gift to uplift others. We need to embrace the fact that we are material bodies living in a material world. Make your life a celebration of the wonderful world around you, every moment, every day!

7. Have integrity with the people who surround you

One of my favorite books is The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement is, "Be impeccable with your word." There is such depth in this agreement. If we make a promise to ourselves to always be true to ourselves we start having quality control in the most genuine way. We speak with love. There are certain attitudes and behaviors we don't accept. And by doing so, we actually serve humanity. There are so many people out there -- it is totally fine to not open up to all of them. But we can find ways to be respectful and friendly in all situations.
However, if somebody weighs you down by their continuous negativity it's fine to set boundaries. It is just as much of an inspiration to watch somebody who has healthy boundaries, as it is to watch somebody to be all-embracing love. Trust your intuition. Trust your gut.

8. Step by step towards your soul's alignment -- don't ever think you have more time

Do it now! Take a little step at a time -- but don't put it off. Take baby steps in the right direction, even if it's just a little today, and a little tomorrow. Honored to be walking right there with you!