Your relationship with yourself is not all that different from your relationship with other people. In fact, what kind of relationship you have with yourself will influence your existing relationships with others.
One of the most important things you can do in life is have a loving relationship with yourself, like any relationship, relationships take work on an ongoing basis. Even if you do feel you love yourself, never take yourself for-granted, maintain that loving relationship with self. If you don't feel you love yourself, it's about time to focus on perhaps one of the most important things you can do.
You may have heard that you can't truly love another person unless you love yourself. While technically I don't believe that to be entirely true, certainly we can feel mixed feelings toward both self and other, and emotions are far from black and white. However, we cannot allow ourselves to truly -feel- loved by another person fully until we can love ourselves fully enough to feel worthy enough to allow ourselves to receive that love. We may feel desperate for love, but if a part of us feels unworthy it doesn't matter how much we love our partner or our partner loves us, we will feel that something is missing, a void inside... that is the void that can only be filled from the well of one's own soul, and is that of self love.
Like all relationships, learning to communicate with yourself is key. Patience is key.
It can be helpful to acknowledge right away that there is a part of yourself that loves you. You may have a lot of self love, or you may have so little that you're skeptical as you're reading this when I say there IS a part of yourself that loves you. It's the part that's interested in reading this here now, it's the part that is hopeful.
Let yourself as best you can, feel that part of you, that cares about you, what does that part of you feel like? The loving part of you that loves yourself? Get to know that part of yourself, try to listen to that part of yourself.
The first steps to loving yourself, are getting to know yourself, and accepting yourself. That doesn't just mean focusing on the parts of yourself you like, it means facing your demons. It means getting honest with yourself about the parts of yourself you don't like and accepting those too. Just because you accept parts of yourself and love them, doesn't mean you can't work toward changing them, in fact, we often cannot change what we cannot fully acknowledge and accept. Acceptance doesn't mean condoning current harmful behaviors toward yourself and others that you might have, it simply means acknowledging they are a facet of who you are now as a whole person who is deserving of love.
Sometimes it can be helpful to think of yourself as two parts, the parenting part that is going to love and take care of yourself, and then the part of you that needs to learn to love and be loved. If the loving part of you was going to take care of someone they loved and adored, how would you treat them, how would you talk to them, how would you treat yourself if you were your own soul mate? your own baby/toddler/child? your own ailing grandparent? Would your self talk be the same?
Listen to how you talk to yourself in your head, and try to encourage and remind that loving part of you to take over more, and quiet the negative voices. Do your best to listen to and encourage that part of you that does care about you to let you take care of yourself.
Being honest with yourself is a big part of that. Listening to what your feeling, recognizing your own feelings and thoughts, figuring out where they're coming from and why, whether they're ultimately serving the purpose of making you a happier more loving compassionate person, or whether you're getting in your own way.Being patient and gentle with yourself when you're less than perfect, and to just keep doing the best you can day by day, moment by moment, and trying not to beat yourself up when you feel you've failed, but learn from it and grow from it instead.
It gets easier, with practice, like anything else.
Where do you begin to love yourself... start with a hello, strike up a conversation with yourself, don't be afraid to talk to yourself, don't be afraid to listen... and it doesn't hurt if you take yourself out to dinner and a movie or buy yourself flowers now and then...