There is Valentine’s Day for everyone who has a special one in their lives, there is a Family Day a day later that has been recently recognized as a holiday in many countries. However, there is no day to celebrate our love for ourselves. I know, we supposed to care about others and that’s what makes societies function better, in theory. However, in practice, we see a lot of injustice and violence in the world despite formal recognition of importance that love brings to our lives. How come we forgot to recognize the importance of love for one’s self?
I believe that a lot of people are driven by their fears, experiences, and emotions, and all these things come from presence or absence of self love. Recently, the concept of self-care became more accepted in society, particularly around younger generation (hello self-care packages and boxes!). I think it is great but it is not the same as self-acceptance and inner peace that self love brings. What am I talking about? Let’s break it down what I consider self-love (in my subjective opinion).
What IS Self-Love?
- understanding who you are as a person, having understanding of your personality, including strengths and weaknesses
- accepting your flaws and weaknesses and knowing how to control or manage them (or change them into strengths when possible)
- finding the time of the day for yourself
- recognizing that you are unique and bring something special to the world
- recognizing that you and your opinion matter
- self-awareness, being able to tell when you are struggling and need help
- seeking for the help or resources, whether it is help to have more energy or learn a skill or something more ‘deep’ by finding a therapist
- knowing what you like and what you dislike when it comes to small things like places, food, activities but also more important things like people/personality traits, developing views on variety of topics and knowing how to express your needs in healthy way (without hurting others but getting your point across)
- being able to say YES to anything that makes you happy and excited and feeling alive
- being able to say NO to everything that is harmful or that you are not comfortable with
- finding time to maintain and develop your physical health (e.g., physical activities, sleep, healthy meals) and mental health (e.g., reflecting, meditating, therapy, talking to friends)
- finding the time to develop yourself as a person – from psychology and better understanding yourself and others and what really drives people to reading books and challenging yourself mentally. I heard that millionaires find an hour EVERY DAY to learn something new.
- knowing when you need to rest and taking the time to do it. Whether you need an hour for a nap or few weeks to re-energize, you are allowed to do this (but I do not speak on behalf of your employer!). If you are not feeling like responding to someone, take your time (again, outside of work settings). You are not supposed to be happy and excited 24/7.
- knowing how to cheer yourself up. Know what makes you feel better and doing it.
- knowing what your boundaries are and maintaining them. Not giving time or resources to anyone who does not respect your boundaries.
- being true to yourself and facing your fears and also your deep emotions because you will finish on another side, stronger and better than ever 😉
What is NOT Self-Love?
- Always saying Yes to yourself (especially when you know it is a weakness and actually bad for you)
- Always saying No to yourself (especially when you know it is related to stepping out of your comfort zone)
- Doing something because someone else considers these activities to be ‘self-care’. Do what YOU feel is ‘self-care’
- Doing only ‘self-care’ activities but not addressing other things (list of self-love things) that can improve you and your life
- Doing anything that makes you feel good but also hurts someone (stop lying to yourself)
- Doing something that makes someone feel good but hurts you
- Doing something or continuing doing something despite knowing that it is bad for you (e.g. staying in unhealthy relationship or not addressing ‘blocks’ in your life that prevent you from living the life you actually want or realizing who you actually are)
- Ignoring your gut feelings, signs, dreams or any other things where you feel something is not right
- Feeling sorry for yourself too long and using it as excuse not to do anything good for yourself or to push yourself forward
- Not taking responsibility for your life and for people (pets?) that depend on you
- Not believing in yourself or your ability to learn, change and/or improve
- Believing that your love for other(s) is more important than love to yourself
- Thinking you need someone ELSE to love you for you to love yourself
So take some time on Valentine’s Day (or Family Day) and do something for the most important person in your life – YOU! If you believe that love can change life – start with your own!