Great rock ballads have been built on it. Star crossed lovers have died for it. Even wars have been fought for it.
I’m talking about love of course. February centers around Valentine’s Day. It also happens to be one of my favorite chocolate holidays and I’m happy to accept any chocolate hearts or cupids if you’re so inclined.
But today, I’m not talking about mushy commercial lovefest Valentine’s Day has become, the love between two people, or a parent and child. Today, it’s all the love you have for yourself.
I know, it’s a cheesy topic but it’s so important to talk about. As humans we naturally seek out love and acceptance – we think that having those things in our pocket will make us happy but we go about it the wrong way. Instead of looking at ourselves we look everywhere else; in everyone else. We rely way too much on everyone else’s opinion and their approval, or sometimes their love, in order to be happy.
I’m not a psychologist so don’t ask me why we do these things; I just know that we do. I’ve seen in other relationships and I’m definitely guilty of it.
We also look at our outsides instead of our insides in order to feel loved. Our hair, body shape, skin features (got freckles? Me too!). We judge them instead of accepting them and finding joy in them and in turn loving ourselves for them. Even if we don’t love the way our hair curls in the heat (PREACH!) or we’re still carrying around an extra 40lbs of baby weight 13 years after the fact, doesn’t mean it’s a reason not to love ourselves. Our outside is only the shell of us. It’s what holds the vital organs in; that’s all.
I’m still learning how to love myself; especially on the days where I feel unproductive, unhappy, and overall icky about life and everything in it.
The following, in one way or another, are practices I’ve had to put into place in order to keep my own sanity and remind myself that it’s important to love who I am so I can be the best version of myself for others. Some of these are really, really hard to do; they require a lot of effort and they aren’t a one-time thing.
- Spend time with yourself. It’s a balance but so necessary. Some people are only alone when they’re sleeping. I say it’s just as important to be alone as it is to be around others.
- Talk to yourself and REALLY LISTEN. No, you won’t get locked up in the looney bin. Yes, you might start answering yourself out loud. When you start talking to yourself and asking yourself questions, the answers you get back will help you listen to your own needs and wants.
- Stop judging yourself. A little judging is good but it should be in the form of constructive criticism because that’s how we grow as individuals. There’s also a huge difference between judgment and constructive criticism. Constantly shaming, condemning, or putting yourself down is toxic and won’t help you. This is also known as self-acceptance. Turn the shame and guilt into ways to grow and learn. This is also called forgiveness and self-acceptance.
- Become your own BFF. Think of your BFF, how do you treat him/her? You do fun things, you have long talks, dance parties, you see something in a store and buy it for them “just because”. All of this bears doing for yourself too. Treat yourself with the kind of love and compassion you have for your best friend.
These last two are more things to remember. They’ll help you as you walk through the journey of learning to love yourself. Remember these every day and especially on the days when you don’t feel worthy of love.
- Loving yourself is a relationship; just like a marriage, you have to work at it every day.
- Loving yourself isn’t selfish. You know the saying, “you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself,” well that’s true for love too. Loving yourself is part of taking care of yourself, just like you feed and bathe yourself.
Loving yourself benefits others just as much as it benefits you.
One of the ways I deal with feels of shame, guilt, or judgment on myself is to be self-deprecating. I use humor (sometimes inappropriately) to smooth over when I feel I might be judged for something or when I am judging myself (whether anyone else is nor not). Self-deprecation can be just as dangerous as toxic judgment; it can become a crutch for when you feel like you aren’t worthy of love, forgiveness, or acceptance.
Happy Valentine’s Day beautiful friend. How do you love yourself?