It’s that time of year where hearts, flowers, chocolates, and gifts are being promoted everywhere you turn, enticing our emotions to surrender and spend money to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In 2017 projected U.S. spending on Valentine’s Day was a whopping 18.2 billion! It can be a wonderful gift to love a partner and celebrate Valentine’s Day together, while also celebrating your love every day in some way. Love is a significant foundational support system to our emotional well being, simultaneously providing enrichment and challenges that help us personally grow within all relationships we share. But, let us not forget about self-love, with or without a partner.
The concept of self-love can sound nice, or it may seem sappy or self-indulgent to others. Consider author Shakti Gawain’s beneficial perspective about self-love in her book Reflections of Light, “My primary relationship is with myself – all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment.” Or, to put it another way, when we learn self-love, we can provide a more authentic and emotionally healthy version of our self to others, increasing the probability of having more rewarding relationships with our partner, children, friends, and colleagues.
What Else Can Self-Love Provide?
Self-love has also been linked to increased inner strength and productivity, as well as a decrease in stress. Stress reduction is significant, because it can impact us physically and psychologically. Being less stressed can help reap the benefits of less muscle tension, better digestion, and avoiding and/or diminishing several emotional and mental disorders. Overall, it simply assists with our health and well being on a holistic level.
It seems logical to become the best love of our life if self-love can provide relational, physical, and psychological benefits. Or, as the poet and playwright Oscar Wilde noted, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Taking Oscar’s advice, let’s explore what self-love is and how we can integrate more of it into our lives.
What does Self-Love Look Like?
- Self-love is rooted in self-compassion, allowing ourselves to accept our strong and weak characteristics.
- It is dynamic in nature, whereby we are a masterpiece in progress, assisting us to grow as individuals.
- It supports our purpose, values, and responsibility to our own life.
How can Self-Love be Cultivated?
- Living who you are. Explore your purpose and values and take action to support them.
- Surrounding yourself with people that care about and energize you.
- Defining what works for you as an individual and honoring it. This doesn’t mean never trying something new. It means if something doesn’t feel right inside, listen to it.
- Being able to use discretion between needs and wants. Fulfilling our core needs propel us toward sustainability. Wants are often temporarily pleasurable, but can take us off the track.
- Incorporating self-care into your life through sleep, physical activities, social circles, and spirituality.
- Forgiving yourself. To error is to be human. Allow yourself to learn and grow from your errors and move forward.
- Mentally cancel out negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk.
- Be mindful of how you are thinking, responding to your environment, and relating to others.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Oscar Wilde’s wisdom is at it again, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
- Maintain a balance in a romantic relationship.
- Allow yourself to feel, it is part of being human. Our emotions are not meant to be stagnate. If your emotions are of concern to you, love yourself enough to reach out to family, friends, and/or professionals whether you are an employee or a student.
- Be patient with yourself while you continue to move forward. It’s not a race.
- Being kind and respectful to others, even those that may be different from you. Taking the time to learn about others can enrich you.
- Understand not everyone is going to like or love you, and that’s okay, others will.
In this month of celebrating love, consider starting with yourself. Put into practice any of the above suggestions and add something new each month, because celebrating love or self-love doesn’t have a time limit.
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For additional details and to sign up, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Seven.