Photo Credit: Amy Shamblen (via Unsplash)
Although you may be used to spending your Valentine’s Day lavishing gifts and affection onto your significant other, this year I challenge you to treat yourself with the same compassion that you would show a loved one.
Putting in the effort to show the people you are closest to how much you care is imperative, but too often we forget about the person who deserves our affection and tenderness first and foremost. Showing yourself love should be a priority after the year we’ve had. Valentine’s Day presents the opportunity to check in with yourself mentally and physically and determine whether your emotional and spiritual needs are being met.
There are many ways to practice self-love, including showing yourself acceptance, ensuring that you only set realistic expectations for yourself, and reminding yourself that you’re only human when you make mistakes.
The best way to build your self-esteem is to learn to believe that you are worthy of your affection. Searching for validation from others is a sign that you’re overdue for some self-love. Be mindful of the thoughts you have about yourself. If you notice intrusive, negative thoughts directed at yourself, replace them with kind sentiments and remind yourself that you deserve to be treated with compassion both by others and yourself.
We tend to be our own harshest critics, so if you find that you’re putting yourself down often for things like not getting work done on time, or not achieving the marks you hoped for, you need to stop and consider how these criticisms make you feel. Do they encourage you to work harder next time, or do they cause you to feel stressed and defeated? Chances are you probably aren’t motivated by negative criticism – most people aren’t. If you wouldn’t say these things to a friend or a loved one, then why are you saying them to yourself? Make an effort to replace these negative feelings with positive, more constructive ones. It’s okay to feel upset or sad about something, but it is also in your best interest to be on your side. Support yourself in difficult situations and you will develop a more intimate relationship with yourself.
Doing your best to make healthy decisions for your mind and body is another way to practice self-love. Like choosing to eat healthy foods, cutting off relationships that are causing you stress is equally beneficial to your well-being. Permit yourself to think of your feelings first. Often, taking a step back from negative relationships to focus on your mental health will help you to realize how much better you feel when you’re not constantly worrying about how you’re performing in them.
Taking a step back from social media to reevaluate your standards and making sure that you only set realistic goals is also essential to developing your sense of love for yourself. If you set goals that you can reasonably achieve, you get to celebrate these achievements more often, and you can use these small steps to motivate yourself and encourage personal growth.
Learning to love yourself as much as you love and appreciate those around you is an arduous process and a lifelong journey of ups and downs. It’s easy to forget whose affection you deserve most when you search for tenderness and acceptance from others. You are the most vital person in your world, and so it makes sense that the person who should come first in your thoughts and feelings is you.
The more you can rely on yourself for love and compassion, the easier it will be to build a positive relationship with others. Instead of searching for validation from others, you will begin to look for companionship and put less stress on your interpersonal relationships to provide you with the level of empathy that you should be getting from yourself.