After decades of hetero-centric Valentine’s Day stories and articles that talk about savoring love, finding love, and keeping love with another person, it seems like there followed a tidal wave of “love yourself” topics and ideas for this holiday. And those have now become a little cliche. But since I’m in favor of self-love EVERY day, since I think loving yourself can enhance your ability to be a good partner, and since the topic of self-love can be extremely daunting, I’m going to cliche it up for the day.
Here are a few ways to show yourself some love:
- Diminish negative self-talk: Listen closely to your internal monologue. Whenever you feel it veering off into criticism of your body, your choices, your actions, your relationships, try to pause. It takes time to truly halt negative self-talk, so start by just making yourself aware of it. How often are you berating yourself? Could you do it less? Give it a try.
- Note your successes: Before you go to bed each night, think back on your day. What stood out as something that you did well, that felt good, that was a major or minor success? Did you close a deal or kick ass at a presentation? Did you make your kids giggle themselves silly? Did you put together a fantastic outfit? Some days this will feel more challenging than others, but keep at it. Even if the day’s success seems tiny, acknowledge it. And give yourself credit for it. You made that happen. You succeeded today.
- Talk to the mirror: I know, That Old Chestnut. But I trot it out often because it WORKS, people. Before you begin your day in earnest, look in the mirror. Praise your body out loud while looking at your reflection. Say, “I have lustrous hair.” Say, “I have strong, powerful legs.” Say, “I have kind and welcoming eyes.” Try to think of something new each day. You may run out, so feel free to recycle. Just try it. It’s amazing.
- Forgive yourself: This often goes hand-in-hand with diminishing negative self-talk, but can also exist separately. We are all our own worst critics. Next time you “screw up” and fall down a self-hatred rabbit hole in the aftermath, listen to how you’re talking to and about yourself. Would you say those things to your mom if she’d screwed up in a similar way? Your sister? Best friend? Partner? If not, why are you saying them to yourself? Everyone stumbles, and it’s important to learn from mistakes. But focus on the learning and forgiving, and try to move away from blame, shame, and self-loathing.
- Engage praise: In my experience, praise attracts praise. Offering praise to strangers, family members, friends, and colleagues creates an environment conducive to positivity. Praise someone else – for a choice, an action, a decision, a moment of bravery – and you’ll be amazed how quickly that praise returns to you. How is this beneficial in the Self-Love Department? Well, receiving praise is always good for confidence. But on a subtler level, when you dish out praise to others you are acknowledging the fact that the successes of others bring you joy. You are not buying into the myth that there is a limited amount of happiness, success, or beauty available in the world. You are fostering abundance for yourself and others. And that feels at once secure and liberating.
Image courtesy jaroslavd.