All you need is love…
There’s a lot of focus on love at this time of year as we celebrate Valentine’s Day. In this post I’m taking a look at why loving yourself is so important and how you can treat yourself as well as you do your loved ones.
So what exactly is self-love?
Self-love means accepting yourself as you are, treating yourself with kindness and respect and nurturing your own growth and well-being.
It’s not just about how you treat yourself but how you think and feel about yourself and how you talk to yourself.
It doesn’t mean that you have to feel positive about yourself all the time – you can feel upset, angry or disappointed with yourself but you are able to forgive yourself, consider your feelings and support your well-being. Just as you would with someone else that you love.
If you know how to love others, you know how to love yourself. Self-love doesn’t prevent you from caring about others; it simply means you can give yourself the same kindness that you give to others.
Why do we need to love ourselves?
Loving ourselves can really boost our physical, psychological and emotional state.
Without self-love, we’re more likely to be highly self-critical and fall into people-pleasing and perfectionism. We’re more likely to tolerate abuse or mistreatment from others. We may neglect our own needs and feelings because we don’t value ourselves. And we may self-sabotage or make decisions that aren’t in our own best interest.
Self-love is the foundation that allows us to be assertive, set boundaries and create healthy relationships with others, practice self-care, pursue our interests and goals, and feel proud of who we are.
If you love yourself you’re likely to:
- Say positive things to yourself
- Forgive yourself when you mess up
- Meet your own needs
- Not let others take advantage of you
- Prioritise your health and well-being
- Spend time around people who support you and build you up (and avoid people who don’t)
- Ask for help
- Let go of grudges or anger that holds you back
- Recognise your strengths
- Value your feelings
- Make healthy choices most of the time
- Live in accordance with your values
- Pursue your interests and goals
- Challenge yourself
- Hold yourself accountable
- Give yourself healthy treats
- Accept your imperfections
- Set realistic expectations
- Notice your progress and effort
Putting self-love into practice
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you have to change everything about your life. Start by just trying to treat yourself a little better than you did yesterday. Here are some suggestions on how to begin:
- Ask yourself ‘What do I need’? ‘How do I care for myself already?’ ‘What would I say to a friend in a situation like this and how would I say it?”
- Identify one loving thing you can do for yourself today – it could be a supportive thought or action. Next, write down what you’re going to do and when you’ll do it. Writing it down increases accountability and makes it more likely that you’ll follow through. As you add more and more loving thoughts and actions to your daily life, they’ll begin to crowd out some of your self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. With practice, self-love will become automatic.
- Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because you did or didn’t do something – you did what you could in the circumstances and now it’s in the past. Blaming yourself because you did or didn’t do something is useless. There is no failure, only learning so value what you are learning along the way.
- Self-care is important so don’t wait to apply it. Yes, there is plenty to do and worry about but stop and take time to realise your own significance.
- Remember that no one is perfect and everyone is different. Everyone has strengths and areas of opportunity. Don’t sell yourself short or compare yourself to others. Write down your best qualities or things you love about yourself and celebrate those – you are unique.
- Practice talking to yourself kindly and lovingly. Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are the most awful, demeaning things anyone could ever say. Instead of drilling into yourself how terrible you are or using self-defeating language, reframe it and use language that builds you up, not tears you down.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Resources used for this article:
What is Self-Love and Why Is It So Important? (psychcentral.com)
7 Reasons Why It Is So Important to Love Yourself (womanitely.com)
Be Kind to Yourself | Psychology Today
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