The greatest love story you will ever embark on is with yourself.

I know, so cliche. But true.

For introverts, learning to love ourselves can be tough. We grow up hearing that we need to change in order to be worthy of love. Like we have to earn love, even from ourselves.

What if being loved and loveable had nothing to do with how charming or witty you are? Or how many friends you have. Or how packed your social calendar is?

For many introverts, the idea that love is not earned is a radical concept. All along, we thought that if we could master the whole ‘act like an extrovert’ game, we’d be loveable.

In reality, you are at your most loveable when you are staying true to your authentic introverted self. Love thy introversion, love thyself.

But embracing our introversion and learning to love ourselves is not always easy. Often, introverts get stuck inside our head. We worry. We regret. We become brutally critical and ruthlessly unforgiving.

Others might think that we’re silently judging them when we get stuck inside our head. Instead, it is ourselves that we judge the most harshly.

We get so fixated on the should voice, that our authentic voice is drowned out. Luckily, there are simple ways to silence your inner critic and fall in love with you.

The fast track to self-love

Instead of getting critical, get curious. When you feel like you’ve done something wrong, your first instinct might be to scold yourself. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m so stupid!

Instead of getting down on yourself, get curious by asking “what”?

What is the lesson here?

What was my deeper motivation for doing that?

What could I do differently next time?

Then you can ask yourself the most powerful question of all:

What would someone who loves herself/himself do?

People who love themselves are compassionate and kind in their self-talk. They are always the good cop. They also have healthy ways of coping with stress and uncomfortable feelings that don’t involve self-flagellation. Which brings me to my next point.

Practice sacred self-care. You know that saying, “actions speak louder than words.” This is particularly true when it comes to loving yourself. When we do kind things for ourselves, we feel important and loved. We become the VIP of our own life, which is the way it was always meant to be.

Just like in a relationship with a partner, your love a affair with you doesn’t need to be grandiose. It’s the small, consistent gestures that have the biggest impact over time. Here are some ideas:

  • Buy a little treat that you normally wouldn’t splurge on. It doesn’t have to be expensive: a scented candle, some specialty coffee, a pretty new nail polish.
  • Light some candles and take a luxurious bubble bath.
  • Take a break. And breathe.
  • Surprise your future self by hiding $5 bills in coat sleeves and party purses.

Accept support

For most introverts, our natural reaction to stress is to close off and turn inward. That’s not entirely a bad thing. But when you freeze everyone else out in the process, it’s not long before your self-critical troll brain goes haywire.

Accepting support can be as simple as being candid with a friend about what you’re feeling. Just saying things out loud, and feeling heard, can lessen the weight of our worries. We are buoyed up by the compassion of others.

Luckily for introverts, it only takes one or two true friendships to get us out of our head and into a place of greater self-love and compassion.