Valentine’s Day; a day for rosé, chocolate, bubble baths and….Self-Love!
What if we spent the time we use to prepare for someone else we love and admire, loving ourselves?! This was a thought than ran through my mind recently as I watched people shopping at Trader Joe’s and grabbing the last bunch of strawberries off the grocery aisle and gathering around the candy section as though it would suddenly become extinct. Personally, I always thoroughly enjoyed choosing and wrapping presents for loved ones but never took the time to examine the true meaning behind what I was doing it all for. When I came across an article by psychologist Dr. Deborah Khoshaba, it made me dig deeper into this subject.
According to Dr. Khoshaba, self-love is most important before any other type of love can truly flourish. I found this to be so helpful in my personal life application and wanted to share her research with you. I copied the research verbatim for your easy access as follows.
A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love by Dr. Khoshaba;
What is self-love? Is it something you can obtain through a beauty makeover or a new set of clothes? Can you get more of it by reading something inspirational? Or, can a new relationship make you love yourself more? The answer to all of these questions is No. Although they feel good and are gratifying, you can’t grow in self-love through these types of activities.
Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.
7-Step Prescription for Self-Love
- Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
- Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
- Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.
- Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
- Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term frenemies that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of “friends” who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My suggestion to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life.” You will love and respect yourself more.
- Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.
- Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.
If you choose just one or two of these self-love actions to work on, you will begin to accept and love yourself more. Just imagine how much you’ll appreciate you when you exercise these seven-steps to self-love. It is true that you can only love a person as much as you love yourself. If you exercise all of the actions of self-love that I describe here, you will allow and encourage others to express themselves in the same way. The more self-love you have for yourself, the better prepared you are for healthy relating. Even more, you will start to attract people and circumstances to you that support your well-being.