by Lindsay, School of Public Health
Whether you are single, in a relationship, or “it’s complicated” this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to show yourself some love.
But what does it really mean to love yourself? Should we all go out and buy ourselves chocolates and teddy bears and maybe stand outside our windows with a boombox playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes?” The chocolates aren’t such a bad idea, but the truth is that self-love looks different for everyone. Here’s what self-love means to me…
1) Respecting yourself and expecting respect from others. This one is tougher than it sounds. But I think that expecting respect from others begins with respecting yourself. This reminds me of a quote I used to see sprinkled around Facebook: “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” Although I can imagine a few exceptions to this rule, such as some “selfless” acts, I think this is awesome advice. Don’t settle — you deserve respect.
2) Taking care of your well-being. Show yourself love by taking care of yourself, the same way you take care of your loved ones when they are feeling under the weather or the way you encourage them in achieving their wellness goals. Whether that means letting yourself sleep in, adding more activity to your day, or seeking counseling to help you through a rough time, treat your body and mind well!
3) Making time for you. It’s not selfish to make time for yourself. In fact, I think it’s the opposite of selfish — for me, getting enough “me time” actually allows me to be a better friend, coworker, and citizen of the earth. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to say “no!” If you don’t want to do something or don’t feel comfortable, allow yourself to say no. Being kind and understanding to others is great, but you don’t have to please everybody all of the time.
4) Forgiving yourself for making mistakes. Nobody is perfect. As a self-identified perfectionist, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. It’s okay to make mistakes — we all do! Yes, even Oprah makes mistakes. Forgive yourself, and then learn and grow from the experience. In fact, some of the most interesting, wise, and compassionate people I know are the ones who have made a lot of “mistakes” and learned unexpected and invaluable lessons from those experiences.
5) Indulging every now and then, whether it’s a good book, your favorite dessert, or a trashy TV show. Most would agree that life usually isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. So allow yourself to feel good and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. We all deserve a little break, right?
6) Cultivating your hobbies or passions. Even though you may have to do a lot of things every day that you aren’t totally passionate about (e.g. taking out the garbage), make a conscious effort to engage in more experiences that really satisfy your soul. Not only does exploring your passions and hobbies teach you a lot about those passions or hobbies, but you also learn so much about yourself and your strengths in the process.
7) Seeing the good in you. We are all so quick to dwell on the things we don’t like about ourselves. My nose is weird. I’m a bad writer. I have a silly laugh. My nose? Sure, it’s different, but I can see reflections of my parents and my grandparents when I look at myself. My nose is a marker of my ancestry, and that’s actually pretty cool. My writing? Yeah, it’s not that great, but I find it therapeutic to get my thoughts out, and I feel better after writing. My laugh? Even if it’s silly, it definitely lets people know I think something they said is funny, which in turn makes them feel good. And it makes me feel good to know I made someone else feel good. We so easily embrace the “flaws” of those we love, but why can’t we embrace our own quirks? Better yet, let’s not be afraid to be confident about all of the incredible things we’ve got going for us. Rock what you’ve got!
Loving yourself is not just a placeholder for loving another. It’s not just a silly self-help strategy, either. And loving yourself is certainly not conceited. Loving yourself, I believe, is an absolutely necessary requisite to finding peace and deep satisfaction within our relationships and lives. So this V-day, I want to leave you with those two little words: love YOU!