It’s Valentine’s day and love is well and truly in the air. All over social media people are trying to show how in love they are, how cherished they are, how sweet their significant other is. But, I wanted to kind of cut through of that and talk about self love.
Why? Isn’t Valentine’s day about couples and romance and all that gushy mushy stuff? Well, it is and probably always will be. But, I was inspired to talk about self love from an interview of Eartha Kitt, the legendary singer. She believed self love was necessary if not crucial for any kind of healthy relationship.
Yet, I find we don’t talk about loving ourselves enough. That is, spending time to figure out what makes you and then holding that in such high regard you become empowered. It’s something we seem to brush away.
Something to be done later, when we’re not busy loving someone else.
I too, spent many years being like this. I’ve always found loving others easy. Putting those that I respected on a pedestal, irregardless of red flags or things that they did which upset me. Many of us do this, loving those completely undeserving of our affection. And I saw self love as an over indulgence. Rather, unknowingly (and cruelly) becoming a martyr for other people’s insensitive ways. Not understanding that loving yourself is the beginning and not the end.
Where does this come from? Man’s survival instinct often tells us to protect ourselves from harm. Kicking in as either fight or flight. Practically, we are designed to run away from things that do not serve us. And though this describes our reactions in dangerous or violent environments – this is the very core of self love. Putting your wellbeing before others.
This is the act of being compassionate and forgiving towards yourself. Accepting and then changing when things are not okay. It’s like holding up a mirror to your flaws and then unashamedly saying ‘I like that‘. It’s not perfect, but it makes me who I am. Doing this also helps you to be grateful, for your existence, the things you do have and the opportunity to change things for the better.
Now before you start, this is not a plea for narcissism. I’m not encouraging anyone to dispose of their loved ones and focus solely of themselves. Rather, I’m asking you practise caring for yourself. This is easier said than done given the day and age we are in. Social media, I believe, plays a big role in why so many of us don’t love ourselves. Almost 90% of us young people are on social media to share and stay in touch with friends.
We are constantly exposed to perfect versions of beauty, lives and relationships making it no wonder that 80% of our thoughts are negative.
This is because we compare and contrast/ so much that we begin to dislike ourselves. Studies have found that comparing yourself with people on social media was more likely to make you feel depressed than comparing yourself offline. However, we should never do this. Comparing can make us doubt ourselves, breeding feelings of low self-esteem and confidence. Never mind the fact that nothing is ever as it seems online, it can stop us from enjoying the fullness of life. But, social media highlights a bigger problem. We’ve never truly learnt to care for ourselves.
Yet, is it the most important thing we need to do. It has the power to change our lives by; fuelling our motivation, having healthy relationships and achieving our dreams.
It’s a unique intimate knowledge that we couldn’t have with anyone else on the earth, even if we tried.
So this Valentine’s day I urge you to reflect. For once, forget about all the cute romance and check your self love:
Have you neglected yourself? Have you put yourself last yet again? If you have, work on changing it. Begin a process of learning to appreciate yourself. It can be hard and terrifying, but it’s worth it. That thing you’ve been putting off – do it. That person who no longer serves you – forget them. Make sure you are looking after yourselves as if you have no else -because you don’t.
And for those in the back, remember:
Be you, all-ways