It’s Valentine’s Day and love has been a key marketing word this month. Unfortunately, most people wait for someone to come and love them. But, have you ever thought of focusing on self-love? Loving yourself and being kinder to yourself?

This is not a common concept especially in our culture. However, it’s a topic that’s gaining ground in personal development. This is because nothing is more important than a healthy sense of self-love (esteem) and kindness (self-compassion).

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

3 key reasons why self-love is important

1. Life becomes simpler and lighter.
Everything in your life is centred around how you view yourself. Once you fall in love with yourself (in a positive way that is…not narcissistic), its much easier to forgive yourself even for failures and setbacks.

2. It boosts your self-confidence.
Your self-confidence shoots to heights you would never experience were you to wait for love from someone else. By loving yourself first, you learn how to validate yourself and never have to rely on validation from others.

3. You’re more fulfilled.
You’ll be fulfilled in whatever situation your life is currently at because you’re able to see something positive in even the darkest situations. You’ll be complete as you are, not needing another person to complete you.

Aren’t these worthy goals to work towards?

Is self-love selfish?

Some people fear that focusing on self-love will make them selfish, or (worse still) turn them into narcissists. On the contrary, self-love is not selfish.

The reality is that you cannot truly love another until you learn how to love yourself. Also, self-love doesn’t make you let go of your obligations. It makes you more deliberate about what you focus on.

Another reason why self-love is not selfish is because you cannot truly love another until you learn how to love yourself. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.

Love yourself first; that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. Allow yourself to fully believe that you are enough, that you are worthy. Love yourself fully and everything else will fall in line.

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.”
~ Andre Gide

4 ways to increase your self-love

Below are tips on how to take care of 4 aspects of your body and mind:

  1. Physical body.
  2. Emotions.
  3. Mental state (your psychology).
  4. The soul.

1. Physical self-love

The physical body is the easiest one to start with because it’s highly visible. Any changes can be seen and felt within a short time.

Loving your body includes:

  • Eating healthy, balanced and regular meals.
  • Drinking lots of water.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Having adequate rest and sleep each day.
  • Playing hard even as you work hard (the right kind of play…).
  • Loving your body as it is – stop hating it if it doesn’t look the way you want.
  • Scheduling ‘me-time’ to unwind.
  • Becoming your own best friend.
  • Listening to your body and taking action the moment you notice or feel that something isn’t right.

Pick one of these options and practice it for 30 days. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. It takes about this long before your mind takes a new action or state of mind seriously. The longer you do it, the easier it is to turn it into an automatic habit.

You only have one body and most parts cannot be replaced. So why not take care of the body optimally, especially when you’re younger?

“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.”
~Andrew Matthews

2. Emotional self-love

As you plan each week, try to include at least one of the following in your plan:

  • Forgive yourself.
  • Do not be unjustly harsh on yourself.
  • Accept and actually believe compliments.
  • Give compliments.
  • Be honest with your feelings rather than trying to numb them through coping strategies. It’s OK to break down and cry. Then wipe the tears and move forward.
  • Speak only kind words – to yourself and to others.
  • Love all parts of yourself – the strengths, weaknesses, the pretty and not so pretty.
  • Make positive affirmations.

When you take charge of your emotions, you’ll also be taking charge of your life.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
~ Bob Moawad

3. Psychological or mental self-love

It’s easy to love others and take care of them. It’s also easy to forget that you exist and that you too deserve love and kindness from yourself. Constant self-abuse reduces your self-esteem which in turn impacts your mental health.

While we’re able to see good in others, it’s not easy to see the same in ourselves all the time. It’s much easier to see your faults, be your worst critic, and to become your own worst enemy.

What can you do to increase your mental self-love?

  • Watch your inner critic.
  • Move away from negative self-talk.
  • Do you constantly berate yourself for failing in some way? Be gentle with self-criticism.
  • Stop complaining, whining and gossiping.
  • Avoid complainers, whiners and gossips.
  • Take time to explore who you really are and what you really like. Then be that person – regardless of what other people think.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements.
  • Take responsibility for your thoughts and fuel them with love.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remember that negativity is very contagious. So stop hanging around negative and toxic people. Build relationships with positive people who love you and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. This will mean creating strong boundaries that keep negative people out of your life.

4. Soul care

The soul is one area that’s easy to let go of. Unlike physical, emotional or mental health, you don’t get to see the effects of neglecting your soul until it’s too late.

Having a busy schedule means that many people are unable to take time off to do things that satisfy the soul. Sadly, with time, the nagging feeling that something should be done is overcome and forgotten.

Here are some things you can do to give your soul some love:

  • Volunteer your time to a worthy cause. Do something for someone who really needs it. It costs nothing, pays nothing, but grants you great fulfilment.
  • Give hugs.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Laugh often, the kind of laughter that makes you shed a river of tears and bend over double.
  • Practice gratitude every day, even for the smallest things.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people, those that uplift and grow you.
  • Work on your spirituality; the one-to-one connection you have with your Higher Power.

Beyond these, pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll often hear two inner voices when you are thinking an issue through. There is the quiet, subtle voice and the louder voice. Try as much as possible to go with the quieter voice, which is your instinctive, wiser self. The louder voice…that’s usually your ego looking for attention.

When you give your soul love, it reciprocates by helping you make decisions that are wiser and very profound. You find yourself easily avoiding or overcoming situations that would have brought you down previously.

As you take better care of your soul, you become a much better person to be around and people gravitate to you naturally. You also find opportunities opening up without much effort on your side.

“To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.”
~ Alan Cohen

One more tip…

Rest is a critical part of self-love so let’s give it some more attention. Going beyond daily rest, it’s advisable to have a full day of rest each week. For most people, this day is Sunday.

When you form a habit of resting fully on Sundays, Mondays are powerful days because you’re sharp and ready for the week. When was the last time you rested on a Sunday?

This is a habit that many high-achievers have a problem forming. For one, many are so used to working that they don’t know how to not work, even for a day.

If you find that your work or social activities are taking over your life, then you’re probably allowing one or more of the following to happen:

  • Over-commitment: You take on yours and other people’s work and end up doing more than one person can handle.
  • Perfectionism: You’ve set such high standards that even you are unable to meet them all the time.
  • Poor planning and/or prioritization: As the popular saying goes, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. No more explanations needed…
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO): You’re afraid of missing out on opportunities and information…so you’re ON all the time.

Does this describe you? Then check out this article for more info on how to handle the challenges mentioned above. And make time for rest today.

Over to you…

If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.

Demonstrate love by giving it, unconditionally, to yourself. And as you do, you will attract others into your life who will love you without conditions.

You can receive all the compliments in the world, but that won’t do a thing unless you believe it yourself.

Here are some questions to ponder on:

  • How do you see yourself?
  • Do you respect and value yourself?
  • What if you simply devoted this year to loving yourself more?

Can you imagine how powerful, happier and more fulfilling your life will be when you do so?

The ball is in your court…only you can decide and take action to love yourself more and treat yourself with kindness.

Do you need help?

Creating and sustaining a personal development regime that takes care of self-love and self-care is not easy. If you’re having a hard time, then you’ll benefit from a Clarity Coaching Session with one of our coaches. In this 1-1 session, your coach will help you:

  • Create a crystal clear vision of the life you want.
  • Identify the obstacles that are holding you back or keeping you from living this vision.
  • Come up with a simple 3-step action plan for a happier, fulfilling and more balanced life.

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Veronica Waithaka
Veronica Waithaka

Veronica is a Fulfillment Coach based in Nairobi, Kenya. She specializes in personal development and customer service excellence.

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