Every year, we either look forward to February or dread it, especially for those not in a relationship. The primary message of the month, i.e., before Valentine’s Day, is to love and to be in love. It may make the single people wish they had that significant other just for that “special day.”
Couples donning matching attires, gifts shared between loved ones, and the single people are looking on in envy. We tend to forget that behind the façade of a healthy and loving relationship could be a good many dysfunctional couples. Don’t get me wrong I love, to love and being in love.
Since love is in the air, news, magazines, advertisements, you name it, what about self-love? I was once in your shoes, wishing and hoping for prince charming to come and knock me off my socks, by caring and loving me for me. Valentine’s Day would be a time to lock me away from all the lovey-dovey that couples chose to showcase on this particular day.
But not anymore, I am learning to embrace love for oneself.
What is Self-Love?
Self-love definition is when you regard your happiness and wellbeing. That is the definition of the dictionary. It is the appreciation that you have for yourself that grows from your actions. It helps us find fulfillment in our efforts.
It is dynamic and not just a state of feeling good. We become more accepting of who we indeed are, as Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D., says. It is essential as you work towards fulfilling your dreams. It translates happiness and health into the relationship you have with others.
In the world we live in, there’s confusion on self-love and being a narcissist, or selfish. The beliefs we hold based on family, religion or social ideas are often the cause of this. According to an article by the HuffPost, a narcissist is unfulfilled.
They are self-centered and have a high need for approval. The goal of a narcissist is to impress and win the admiration of others. They work towards external validation. On the other hand, self-love will allow you to connect with others and the world around you, on a deeper level.
It is not selfish to accept that you should prioritize your needs. To have more value for others, you must meet your needs first and nourish yourself with self-love.
Ways of Practicing Self Love
1. Make a list of Self- Gratitude
I want to assume that where we all are right now, isn’t the same position we were in, a few years back. What is it that you are thankful for? Gratitude boosts one’s immune system and helps in the reduction of stress.
Don’t center your list on external events, or around others, shift your focus, inwards. What goals have you achieved? You may have moved to a higher corporate position at work. Or you have been able to foster long-term relationships with several clients, just in a few years of freelancing.
Keep a list of the personal things you are grateful for; it will boost your confidence and image.
2. Maintaining Boundaries
You need to be assertive on the things that are important to you. It will help you in building your self-esteem. Know when you need to say no. I have been termed selfish many times for saying no to a request I wasn’t in a position to meet at that time.
If an activity harms you, you need to train yourself to say no to it. It could be physical, emotional and even spiritual harm. It is your responsibility to treat yourself with much love. It is not selfish to make self-care a priority.
It is not possible to be everything for everyone.
3. Forgive Yourself
As a Christian, the Bible teaches us to “love your neighbor as yourself,” Mathew 23:39. If someone you love, say a close friend errs and asks for forgiveness, we are likely to do so. However, as the roles reverse, we tend to punish ourselves too much.
Reminding yourself over and over again about an error doesn’t do much in rectifying it. You can only try to change the future and not the past. No one is perfect. Your mistakes should be learning opportunities and platforms for growth.
Believe that you can change.
4. Encourage yourself with self-talk
It is a process to change your behavioral patterns. Many books on self-love encourage us to think positively. Acknowledge your attempts to try and change. You don’t have to be successful in all your efforts.
Be your life coach. Remind yourself continually that it is never too late to change. Guide yourself in a positive direction. The first step is to analyze your destructive behavior. What led to it?
Find a concrete step that you can take right away, to move in a positive direction. And do it.
5. Live with intention
One of the much-voiced concern about millennials is our need to find a sense of purpose. Living with purpose and design helps one accept and love self. To many of us, our purpose in life isn’t clear yet. Start by working towards achieving what you set out to do.
Fashion your decisions around your intentions. When you succeed, don’t feel sorry for feeling good about it. Maybe you want to live a healthy life. Go for it. You don’t need anyone’s permission but yours.
To love yourself more, you will need to establish your intentions. Let the decisions you make, be in support of this.
By practicing self-love, you will attract circumstances and people that support your well-being. You will take pride in who you are and won’t rely on the approval of others. Take care of yourself, and you will be able to give more to others.
It is my special gift to you. Learn to love self and love yours. You’ve got to love you before you can share your love with others, too.
“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.” Stacey Charter