How to love yourself

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like no sooner is Christmas behind us than the shops become a sea of red and pink in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

Long before 14 February arrives the shelves are heaving under the weight of anything and everything heart shaped. Boxes of chocolates, balloons, huge bouquets of flowers, jewelry, cuddly toys and soppy cards.

Social media is a seemingly endless love fest, meals for two, marriage proposals, happy couple selfies and public displays of affection and appreciation, all to remind that special person in your life how thankful you are to have them around and just how much they mean to you.

Yet as wonderful and romantic as Valentines Day can be, it’s the little moments that we share each day that matter more than the Instagram worthy grand gestures that might only happen once a year.

Expressing love, appreciation and kindness for the ones we care about regularly is important, whether that’s romantically, or in friendship, with family members or even our pets. It brings us closer together and strengthens our relationships. We accept that giving and receiving love and appreciation can make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but how often do we show that same love, kindness and thanks to ourselves?

I accept that the idea of embracing self-love can be a struggle, for many people exploring emotions and feelings doesn’t come easily or naturally. Lots of people love to love others, and happily share their love and kindness with them, but can’t accept it for themselves. It’s the idea that self-love is selfish, that they don’t deserve to be loved or that they aren’t good enough to receive it.

Some people think that self-love is telling ourselves that we are perfect or that we think we are better than someone else. It isn’t.

It’s accepting who we are, faults and all, embracing the things that we do like and working on the bits we’d like to improve. But doing it in a way that’s kind and compassionate, it’s about being as nice to yourself as you would be to someone you love and care about. That means not putting yourself down with unkind words or hurting yourself physically or emotionally in the process.

The way we treat ourselves becomes an indicator of how we expect other people to treat us. When you’re constantly negative about yourself and being critical of everything you do, other people will think that’s OK for them to act that way towards you too. It isn’t.

When you treat yourself with kindness, self respect, compassion and love, that tells people that’s the kind of person you are and that’s how you’d like to be treated by them.

As your understanding of self-love develops, so will your self-esteem, you’ll start feeling better about yourself, your opinions, and your abilities to accomplish the things you want in life. You will have more trust in yourself to make good, healthy decisions about your circumstances without having to seek approval or permission from anyone else.

Your resilience, mental wellbeing and self-esteem will improve. Your positive relationships will strengthen, and the relationships that don’t bring out the best in you will subside because you’ve discovered what makes you happy and what doesn’t.

The truth is that you do deserve to be loved, respected and appreciated. Not just on Valentines Day, but every-single-day. When the love you feel for yourself grows, you’ll have more of that loving energy to share with the people around you. And when you realise that, it doesn’t matter if you receive a card or not.

Here are some of my favourite self-love suggestions

  1. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You are a unique one of a kind person, there is nobody else like you, the only person you should compare you to is you.
  2. Find one thing a day that you like about you, are you kind, funny, caring?
  3. Celebrate your success, it’s OK to be proud of yourself.
  4. Sometimes self-love is about doing something you might not want to do but you know that you’ll feel better if you do, exercise, eating healthier, cleaning up.
  5. Learn to be kinder to yourself, if you make a mistake don’t be so hard on yourself- what would you say to a friend? Be a better friend to yourself.
  6. Make friends with people who encourage you to be your best self, friends who support and care about you. Leave friendships and relationships behind that don’t make you feel good.
  7. Get plenty of sleep, everything feels better when you are refreshed and clear minded.
  8. Don’t believe everything you think about yourself, we all have a voice that tries to put us down sometimes, you aren’t alone.
  9. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s incredible how good we feel when we realise we have achieved something we didn’t know or think we could do before.
  10. Accept compliments graciously- accept that people see something good in you

This post was written by Shannon Humphrey, a First Aid for Mental Health Instructor EFT & CBT practitioner for more information about the work she does visit