“Love yourself first and everything falls into line.” – Lucille Ball
With Valentine’s Day come and gone, we’ve been inundated with talk of love and romance and relationships. If you’re single you might be thinking about what you’re missing. Given the themes around Valentine’s Day, we feel it’s important to emphasize the love we give to ourselves in addition to the love we give to others.
Self-love benefits not only ourselves but those around us, because we can only connect to others to the extent that we connect with ourselves. To put in another way, we can’t pour from an empty cup. We need a cup full of love for ourselves in order to provide love to those around us.
There’s no one formula for how to love yourself.
Anyone who claims they have a step-by-step guide to ensure self-love is oversimplifying things. The reality is that we are all born with completely different sets of needs, desires, and preferences. The challenge of figuring out how to love ourselves more and more every day is something that helps us to grow and change and keeps life from getting stale.
Check-in with yourself.
Because we are all unique, I can’t tell you what is best for you when it comes to self-love. For that you have to dig deep and regularly check in with your internal experience. As opposed to playing a game of “Keeping up with the Jones’” and experiencing FOMO staring at social media, consider the last time you felt really alive and fulfilled. If we define our self-worth by considering what makes us like ourselves, it can become much easier to achieve long-term peace of mind.
Self-care should be fulfilling, not draining.
Our self-care regimen shouldn’t feel like a chore. That’s why loving ourselves can be so challenging—our moods and interests can change from day to day. A good litmus test is to ask yourself how you’ll feel after an activity (like working out) is over. You need to judge if you’ll feel better, or if you’ll be run down. You might feel good about not indulging in dessert, or you might regret not treating yourself. The list of self-care activities that helps one day might hurt the next, so it’s important to honestly assess how we feel in the moment.
Embrace all sides of yourself, especially your vulnerable side.
None of us are perfect. While self-care can lead to self-improvement, it will never make you (or me) perfect. We’ll always have vulnerabilities and imperfections, and that’s OK. Those vulnerable parts of us—the hurt, the insecurities—are as much a part of you as any other aspect of your personality. These are the parts of ourselves we need to learn to love. Our vulnerabilities provide common ground with others, and help us connect and deepen our relationships.