February is undoubtedly the official month of L.O.V.E. This past Valentine’s Day you may have once again felt pressured to get caught up in all the hype. It’s highly commercialized, often over-exaggerated, and can be a major bummer when you’re single, divorced, heartbroken, or alone. We can easily get caught up in expressing love~ for/to others and then daydreaming of how we would like to be showered with affection.
What I think is missing? There isn’t enough said about how we love ourselves and just how important that is.
Okay, self-love sounds a bit cliché. It’s certainly not as exciting as being romanced by someone else. Think about it – most movies and shows are about heterosexual, head-over-heels love and dream-like romance! (We all know that’s fictional, right?) When you catch up with friends, no one is asking “Hey, are you feeling good about yourself these days?” They are more likely to ask about your partner, or who you’re dating, or when you will start, the kids, the job – as if these are the main tells of your happiness. Don’t get me wrong, a primary romantic relationship can be of huge significance to our lives, but loving yourself, now that’s the real magic.
Loving yourself sets the tone for your life. It isn’t just a fleeting emotion, i.e., “I look good today = I like me” – that’s a recipe for self-esteem fluctuation disaster. Rather, loving yourself is a practice, a way of living and thinking. Loving yourself equates to self-confidence, self-compassion, and, most of all, acceptance. Self-love directly informs and influences the major choices of your life- the job you pick, the people you date, the risks you take, even the clothes you wear. How much you value yourself and your worthiness impacts the choices you make all day.
Even the simplest, most seemingly benign choices are influenced by how much you love yourself. “Am I going to eat healthy, get a solid breakfast in to set myself up for success?” “Am I going to nominate myself to take the lead on that work project?” “Should I plan a weekend getaway to unwind?” “Should I work out on my lunch break?” “Will I share my heavy feelings with a loved one?” “Will I ask someone out?” “Will I beat myself up tonight for the mistakes I made today?” “Will I go to bed feeling like I did my best or like I’m a failure?” All those answers depend on how you view yourself. Your internal dialogue has either a negative or positive tone. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be positive at all times; even a neutral, non judgmental tone is better than self-hate, self-loathing judgment-laced talk. If you find that your inner voice is pretty critical and shaming, how do you feel about yourself day in and day out?
When we are willing to see our weaknesses and insecurities (and we ALL have them!), without the rush to fix them, we can settle into our authentic self.
Fact: Loving yourself, first and foremost, begins with what you tell yourself.
So start saying LOVING things to yourself. Right now- say something you LOVE about YOU. No one can do YOU, quite like YOU.
So, can this be the day when you really look at yourself and are completely okay with where you’re at? Trust me when I tell you – YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are worthy of love and belonging. Not only is this freeing, but I can’t say enough about how it will reduce sadness and worry, increase optimism and confidence, and lead to more positive relationships. If you’re feeling like you need a little self-love this month, here are some suggestions:
1) Give yourself a compliment every day for at least a week. Try to stay away from physical attributes as much as you can. Pay the compliment to yourself out loud while standing in front of a mirror. If you journal, write it down as well.
2) Practice self-care. Get in the basics: sleep, a healthier diet (even one healthy meal a day is a WINNING start), exercise more, take just 3 minutes for a quiet spiritual practice, see your doctor for your annual checkup, and even socializing counts as self-care! These building blocks helps us validate our needs. They remind us that YOU are a priority in your busy life.
3) Set boundaries. Saying “no” to taking on another project, committing to too many events, or over-scheduling yourself. Make sure you know when enough is enough so you can protect yourself from feeling drained and over-committed. It’s easier said than done (as a married, full-time working mother of two, I am still trying to learn this one!). Here’s my advice: figure out where the line is and make sure not to cross it.
Boundaries are healthy and necessary.
Remember, no amount of external validation can even come close to rival what real self-acceptance does for us. You can be in a loving and committed relationship, have supportive friends and family, and lots of degrees and awards on the walls, but if you do not feel value, acceptance, belonging – the power of these things is diminished.
The foundational belief of your worthiness tells your whole story…so make it a good one!