Rose are Red, Violets are Blue, You're Pretty Awesome, but I Love Myself Too: Engaging in Self-Love this Valentine's Day
Since Valentine's Day causes the general American population to be inundated with notions of romance, love, belonging, sappiness, and in many cases, unrequited love, I thought it would be a great idea to write a post about self-love. I have flashbacks to one of my worst Valentine's Day in college after my boyfriend and I broke up a few months before (admittedly, it takes me awhile to get over things). I went to the gas station on campus and bought as much chocolate and sweets that my wallet could handle in addition to a bottle of wine. That night alone probably gave me a few cavities, and definitely was not a proper way to channel my emotions, although I still like to eat my feelings here and there. I am a human being after all :-)
Anyway, whether you are in a relationship (no matter what the context is... who knows what constitutes a "real" relationship anymore) or not, it is always important to love yourself first. This is a concept and practice that I have struggled with my entire life, but I think I've been making some pretty good progress with treating myself kindly these days :-) Maybe the insight that I have to offer will help you out too! Even better.
On this health journey I have had to REALLY force myself to be loving for many reasons. When you wake up one morning and don't recognize the person looking back at you, it's a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended considering I take a boat load of supplements every day :-) My image took a huge hit as soon as I got the IUD in. I lost most of my hair, I gained almost 40 pounds, I couldn't workout to lose the weight, I broke out in cystic acne, the list goes on. I also couldn't think properly or logically anymore. I had to be very patient and loving toward myself to get through this scenario. Unfortunately, that wasn't always the case, and I spent a lot of time putting myself down, feeling like I was ugly, and devaluing my self-worth.
Over the past few years I have tried to implement a few tactics that help me realize how strong and passionate I am, among the other qualities that I value about myself. This is of course not an exhaustive list, but hopefully I will get some feedback from you all in the comments section regarding ideas not listed here!
- Take yourself out/treat yoself
It's fun to do things by yourself sometimes, and I highly recommend doing so. This past year I've spent a lot of time by myself in coffee shops, cafes, movie theaters, the library, concerts, and so on. With each experience I have gotten in touch with myself better and was able to enjoy my time as well. Let's face it, sometimes we want to go do something and no one will come with us, so why should that hold us back? Plus, no one I care about has to see me bawl through an entire movie...
- Do what makes YOU happy
This relates to the previous piece of advice, and may seem simplistic, but make sure to do one thing a day that makes you happy whether it's watching Netflix, having a dance party in your room, catching up with an old friend, or whatever works for you. Prioritizing your happiness is a surefire way to work on loving yourself :-)
- Make sure to surround yourself with positive people who love you for you
Another self-explanatory point, but this is something that I used to pay no attention to. How can you expect to grow and feel good about yourself if you have jabronis putting you down left and right? Get rid of those people, if possible, and keep an entourage of encouraging, supportive peeps instead. #byebyebye
- Do not look to others to validate your self-worth
If there is one piece of advice I need to follow, it's this one. Growing up I always wanted praise and validation, as most kids do, but when you're a sensitive Sally like myself, that need is stronger. I wanted people to compliment me on sports accolades, musical endeavors, grades, a new haircut, a nice outfit, etc., but I would NEVER congratulate myself inwardly. Of course there is a fine line between being confident and cocky, but I think I'm finally able to give myself props if need be. I still look to others sometime to validate how awesome I am, so this one's a work in progress ;)
- Learn to say "no"
I am a people-pleaser at heart, but I have found that saying "no" and avoiding situations that make me anxious or drained has served me well. For instance, saying no to partying = a happy liver = a healthier Yoolie = self-love. Your situation might be completely different, but if you truly do not want to do something, try saying no and feel empowered. It is okay to not hang out with your friends every second of the day or do something for a significant other. It is okay to put yourself first sometimes :-) This is ESPECIALLY important if you have a chronic illness because there are moments in time where you need to get some rest a relaxation, or truly cannot just have a slice of bread or a piece of cheese, so learning to say no is a huge part of recovery.
- Be more forgiving and accepting of your flaws
So this doesn't turn into a novel, I'm going to list off some other suggestions that I pulled from the web while researching this topic and/or tactics that have worked for me.
- Don't beat yourself up over the past - move forward from your past mistakes and learn from them to help you overcome obstacles in the future.
- Don't sweat the small stuff - cliche, but seriously, life goes on and trivial drama and mishaps are not worth your time and energy.
- Spend time journaling and getting in touch with your emotions - this is an area that I really need to work at, but whenever I do mentally check in during the day I am better for it.
- Practice yoga - doing yoga teaches you patience, helps you get in touch with your body, and ultimately is a great way to treat yourself kindly. I highly suggest doing yoga at least once a week! Either way, you'll get a good stretch in :-)
- Write a positive letter to yourself and/or a list of your favorite qualities about yourself - it doesn't have to be cheesy, it can even be one thing on a sticky note. Either way, praise yourself for how awesome you are!
- If you catch yourself in the midst of a negative feedback loop, stop the inner-demons and think positive - this is something I've been trying to be better at lately. Once my mind picks up on a negative thought its off to the races and I'm left drained and miserable after a downward spiral of negative, belittling thoughts. I've found that distractions help to cut off this supply, and for me, they include working out, reading, watching a documentary, talking to someone on the phone, playing the ukulele, etc.
Okay, hopefully one of these tips resonated with you or there was a novel idea that you hadn't heard of before. I hope that you all have a lovely Valentine's Day whether you are single, taken, in a gray area of a relationship (if so, I feel for you, because gray area relationships are my forte), etc. While I think it's awesome to be able to show love and affection toward another human being, it's very important to give ourselves that same support too.
What are some tactics of self-love that you have used in the past that have worked? What strategies do you implement on a daily basis to show yourself love? What benefits do you think self-love provides?
I'd love to hear any feedback from you all, so feel free to leave a comment and make sure to treat yourself to something delicious and special this Valentine's Day! I'll be making some AIP-approved truffles for Valentine's Day, and I can't wait to try them.
Until next time!
Moffe, E. (n.d.). The Secret of Surviving Criticism. Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Galleries/The-Secret-of-Surviving-Criticism.aspx
Scade, P. (2014, May 6). Why Self-Love Is The Key To Finding True Love. Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-self-love-is-the-key-to-finding-true-love/
Sekendur, B. (2014, July 17). What Self-Love Means: 20 Ways to Be Good to Yourself. Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/what-self-love-means-20-ways-be-good-to-yourself/