Many of us seek romantic love and in doing so, we tend to neglect the concept of self-love. But what is self-love and why is it so important?
The practice of self-love will allow you to recognize love and, more importantly, allow love into your life. We are all very familiar with self-criticism, self-recrimination, and negative self- talk. How many times have you been aware of your own critical voice dominating your thoughts?
We are far less familiar with self-care, self-nurture, self-understanding, self-acknowledgment, self-affirmation, and ultimately, self-love.
So what is self-love?
There are different components to self-love. These components are both physical and emotional.
The more obvious aspects to self-love relate to taking care of one’s physical needs such as eating well, sleeping well, and taking care of your mental health. Taking good care of yourself is fundamental to nurturing self-care. Keeping yourself healthy and fit and ensuring that your physical body is well. However, there is a lot more to self-care than the obvious physical ones. It also means being good to yourself.
Indulge yourself from time to time. This means doing nice things for yourself, such as taking yourself out for coffee or making yourself a meal with the same love and nurture that you’d have when preparing a meal for someone you love. Go to a movie, get a massage, get lost in a book store, go on an exotic trip.
Make it a habit to treat yourself, take care of and love yourself as you would care for someone you love deeply.
Self-love begins with an acceptance and a tolerance for your quirks, foibles, and mistakes. It means not being hypercritical of yourself. Give yourself acknowledgment when you do something well, even when you are going through difficulties.
Be supportive and tolerant of yourself. Negative self-talk and harsh criticism will not improve your difficulties, but kind self-talk and compassion will ease the process. Have compassion and understanding for yourself, as you do for others.
Make sure you know what your boundaries are and set healthy boundaries with others. Be clear on what’s okay for you and what’s not. Tell people what you want and don’t want.
For example, if you have a friend who betrays your confidence, speak up. Don’t allow people to treat you badly. Become your own advocate. If someone is disrespectful or hurtful to you, speak up. Tell them you don’t want to be spoken to that way.
If someone was unkind, hostile or verbally abusive to someone you love, chances are that you would stand up for that person. Protect yourself, value yourself and take care of yourself, in the same way.
Believe in yourself and your abilities. Become aware of your inner critic and learn to keep it under wraps. Self-love means that you have the ability to recognize your uniqueness, build on your strengths, and give yourself encouragement.
Be compassionate and kind to yourself. Have compassion for your humanity, and that includes your flaws. You’re human and it’s inevitable that like everyone else, you will make mistakes.
Become aware of your inner dialogue, lessen the amount of time you spend punishing or criticizing yourself. Reassure yourself, comfort yourself, and in time, learn to accept yourself unconditionally.
Following these steps can take you on the journey to answering what is self-love and nurturing it in yourself. At the end of the day, it’s true, only when you love you, will you be ready for the love you know you deserve to give and receive in all other relationships in your life.