Valentine’s Day brings up different emotions for different people depending if you are in a relationship or not and if you feel happy or lonely. But regardless of your relationship status, let’s talk about the most important relationship in your life, the one with yourself.
Are you as attentive to yourself as you would be to the love of your life? We make an effort to spend quality time with the ones we love, we listen to their needs and go out of our way to do things that bring them JOY. Do you feel you do the same for yourself?
In this blog, I will share why self-love must be your top priority and give you a few ideas on what you can do to show yourself that kind of care in your daily life.
Why you must start with yourself?
When traveling by air, I’m sure you’ve heard the flight attendant instructing us to ‘put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others’. Why is that? It’s logical in that instance, that without you getting oxygen to your brain, you’ll faint and therefore won’t be able to help anyone else around you. Can you see how this applies to your life in general?
If you are too focused on everyone around you (i.e., putting on oxygen masks for everyone else) but forgetting to take care of yourself, you’ll ultimately run out of air. You will be emotionally drained. You’ll find you are far less productive at work, and much more likely to snap at your kids or spouse when something goes wrong. Said another way:
In order for you to be at your best self, you have to start by taking care of yourself first.
What’s holding you back?
The one and only reason why it’s so hard for us to love ourselves is because we often believe that prioritizing our own needs, even if it’s just for an hour here and there, is selfish. The time we take for ourselves may mean that we don't take that time to do something for others, leading you to worry about others not caring as much about you anymore.
Our subconscious programs make us do anything to make others happy and therefore feel their love, even if your conscious mind knows that it’s unhealthy.
For example, do you feel sad when your teenage daughter can’t say good morning to you and walks around grumpily? You just want to do something for her so she smiles again.
Would you feel guilty asking your friends to push back your dinner plans by an hour so you can make it to your favorite yoga class? No matter what situations create anxiety in your life, it always boils down to us wanting to feel loved. That desire to be valued by others often exceeds our desire to do something good for ourselves.
But don’t allow those voices in your head to stop you from loving yourself. Here are a few easy ways for you to learn to love yourself better.
How to love yourself
Each of us has different ways to practice self-care but in general there are a few guiding principles you can apply to set yourself up for success.
1. Understand your needs – first you want to know what gives you oxygen. For me, getting hugs from close friends and family fills my oxygen tank.
Self-love, for me, also means moving my body a few times a week knowing that I’ll feel better afterwards. Also spending a little extra money on organic, nutritious produce falls into that self-love category for me. So, think about it. What do you need to feel rejuvenated?
2. Use kind speech for yourself – We have on average 60,000 thoughts per day with 80% of those being negative. The voice in your head tells you that you aren’t good enough seeing all the moments where you seem to fall short vs. focusing on those when you succeed. Health coach Lisa recommends that you listen to your mental chatter for a moment and ask yourself if you would ever talk to your best friend the way you are talking to yourself.
For example, when I messed something up, I used to tell myself that I was an idiot or dumb. I realize this language wasn’t supportive of me. So, when you are hard on yourself ask yourself what your best friend would say to you in that moment and rephrase your own hurtful words into words that are supportive and kind.
3. Practice self-compassion – There are many ways you can feel compassion for yourself. One is in the way you talk to yourself as shared above, but another is about small gestures that you know will nourish your soul.
When JOYVIAL health coach Liani feels stressed, she likes to put her right hand on her heart. She feels when she does that, she connects with her life source and it brings her back to the present moment, where peace is found.
I give myself hugs. Yes, you read that right. I take my right hand and wrap it around my left shoulder and take my left hand and wrap it around the right shoulder and then squeeze. This may look silly (I don’t actually do this in front of people) but it feels so nurturing for me.
What small gestures can you do to calm yourself down; like you would a child?
4. Keep your promises to yourself – Did you make commitments to yourself that you will ‘go to bed earlier,’ or ‘eat more nutritious foods’ or ‘try out this new yoga class’ but somehow you haven’t done it? What are your excuses for saying no to yourself? JOYVIAL health coach MJ points out that energetically, you are telling yourself that you are not worth the time and effort. In some ways you lose credibility with yourself when you don’t follow through.
Think of just one small commitment you can make to yourself right now and put it in motion. Once you keep your first promise to yourself and see the effect on yourself as well as others, you will be motivated to follow through on other promises to yourself.
5. Give yourself grace – Grace is all about being okay with where you are. It allows you to acknowledge that you would have liked to manage a situation differently, but also see why you were not able to at the time. Grace is remembering that you are human with good intentions.
Having grace for yourself allows you to accept where you are in life. You have the ability to even celebrate where you are while seeing that your journey ahead is still so long. Embrace your journey and learn to be at peace with wherever you are.
Valentine’s Day is all about love so, don’t forget to practice self love.
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