This year I find myself single on Valentine’s Day and with no one to bestow my affection upon I thought I would focus on my quest to like myself a little better!
Regardless of your relationship status, there is no love more rewarding than loving yourself.
Far from being a wishy washy concept self love allows us to make healthier choices and live a more fulfilling life. It is especially important for people with a shaky self image or low self esteem, and is vital for good mental health. Without it we continue to self sabotage, stay stuck in bad habits and run the risk of allowing others to mistreat us.
So here are a few ways in which I am choosing to love and honour myself on this (and every) day and I invite you to do the same!
Caring for my body
Healthier body = healthier mind. For you caring for your body may mean something practical like drinking more water or cutting down on cigarettes, or something more pampering like treating yourself to a haircut.
Personally I will be doing my usual work out -yes really! It might sound punishing but I will feel better for it mentally and take pride in my increasing fitness levels! And to reward that hard work I will relax my body and mind by taking a long bath with my favourite Lush product (a very sparkly bath bomb). I always have some lovely music on when I’m in the bath and love to have a good sing song- the acoustics are great in my bathroom! (sorry neighbours!)
Reciting Positive Affirmations
I have to contend with a lot of negative self talk, it’s an old and long lasting habit and not something that is easy to get rid of, but I try to counteract this with some self affirming, positive phrases.
I took a few of my usual nagging, self hating thoughts and turned them around.
They don’t have to be complicated or too specific, I like simple ones such as ‘I am good enough‘ and ‘I am loveable‘.
Try to keep them positive in nature and in wording, because of the way the brain stores information, repeating negatives doesn’t make for a positive thought process. So rather than saying ‘I am not lazy‘, try rewording it to ‘I am active and hard working.’
Writing a list of things I like about myself
These don’t have to be big statements, like how wonderfully talented you are at one particular skill (though good for you for recognising your strengths!)
They can be simple like:
- I am a good friend.
- I have a good sense of humour.
- I like my eyes.
The trick is to write them out quickly, as they come to you, before any negative self talk or doubt can creep in. Don’t place judgement on yourself for what comes up. If everything you like about yourself that day happens to be about your appearance or what you can do for other people that is okay, but do try to keep them varied. Think about your personal qualities, skills, appearance, habits, ethics, lifestyle. There are many reasons to like and love yourself.
Sometimes you have to ‘fake it until you make it’ so it is okay if you don’t fully believe them all of the time. Some days when I’m wrapped in self loathing I would read those lists and laugh at myself for thinking so highly of myself, which is why it is useful to make this a regular, ongoing and fluid habit. It can be interesting to look back on and see how your perception changes, as your list grows!
Forgiving and Accepting Myself as the flawed human being I am
I don’t consider myself a bad person but I’m the first to admit that I’ve done some terrible things in my lifetime. I have made some foolish mistakes, I have hurt myself and others in the process. And I don’t know anyone who could say any different about themselves.
But if I don’t forgive my imperfections I can never move on, heal my heart and be at peace with myself and the world enough to carry on living.
I have come to understand everything difficult we go through is a lesson to be learned, all mistakes prepare you to cope better with things further down the road. Sometimes we have to make the same mistake twice (or more), and some mistakes have bigger consequences, that we can’t outrun. So we have to face them head on, admit where we failed, consider how we could do better next time, and forgive ourselves.
I find it helps to start small and work your way up to big things, the subtle change in attitude towards yourself and others can do wonders to how you perceive the bigger regrets that gnaw away you. A little self kindness goes a long way!
Self awareness is at the root of all personal growth. So should I find myself doing something imperfect, such as dropping a plate, or running late for an appointment, or feeling a bit grumpy, I shall remind myself that it is okay, I am doing my best, I am only human afterall, and that means being imperfect. Extending that kindness and understanding to other people really makes it easier to be kinder to yourself, because it highlights how vicious you can be towards yourself, in a way that you’d never be with others. We are often our harshest critics!
Doing Something Just for Me
This can be totally simple or it can be a grand gesture of self appreciation! But it has to be something that empowers you, or boosts your mood, that isn’t expected of you or driven by others approval or acceptance of you.
Yes work or study might ultimately be ‘for your own good’, as is eating your vegetables, but these are all responsibilities that are expected of you, so it has to be something more whimsical and indulgent.
For me this might look like treating myself to something pretty and impractical, or getting a massage.
For you this might look like:
- Buying something you’ve been eyeing up for a while
- Indulging your interests- go do something fun!
- Booking a day off and eating chocolate in your onesie all day
Or it might involve not doing something!
- Saying ‘No’ to someone else’s request
- Finally getting that early night
- Switching your phone/wifi off for the evening – peace at last!
It’s time to love yourself!
So that’s it, a few simple- but sometimes easier said than done– suggestions on how you can teach yourself to love yourself a bit more. It is not easy for some of us, and it is worth noting that it isn’t the norm to be delightfully in love with ourselves all the time. Of course seeking others love and approval is also natural, but if we don’t love ourselves first then we can never reach our full potential and will never care about ourselves enough to make the most of our lives.
If no one else told you today, you are lovely, loveable and loved!
Valentines Day card to myself!