February! The month of hearts, flowers, cards, cupid’s arrows and love – wonderful! Unless of course there aren’t any cupid’s arrows aimed in your direction, or the love of your life is no longer with you, or never arrived. Whatever your situation, there is one person, no matter what, whose love you need to cherish and accept. And who might that be you may ask? Your parents, partner, siblings, or offspring perhaps? While warm feelings coming from those directions can be wonderful, they aren’t guaranteed, and for some, can even be quite toxic. But there is one relationship that, through thick and thin, for better or worse, you will always have to count on. And that, dear friends, is your relationship with yourself.
So what is self love? According to the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation, “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.”
Self love is a lifelong process that’s important for everyone as part of mental wellness, and is maintained with action and effort. It is NOT a destination, nor is it self-confidence, or arrogance, and it is not dependent on what others think of you. It really is all about how you view yourself. If you want to find out more, take a look at this informative guide to showing greater care towards yourself, from The Mental Health Coalition.
As well as making you feel better, when you truly love yourself and feel fulfilled, it’s much easier to share that love outside of yourself and love others.
Of course, like everything else in life, you need to make sure that your love of self, or your self esteem as some prefer, is in balance and doesn’t become narcissistic. Narcissism, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, means “having too much interest in and admiration for yourself:” According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of a river God, and was distinguished by his beauty. When he rejected the love of a nymph, he attracted the wrath of the Gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and eventually killed himself. The flower that sprang up where he died is called a narcissus! It is certainly important for us to get the balance right (I will never look at that pretty spring flower in the same way again!).
However, for most people, their sense of self-love isn’t excessive, it is actually in need of some nurturing. A bit of targeted self-reflection is a great way to see where your love of self is these days. We don’t often stop and check out our feelings about ourselves. But when we do, our self esteem can rise. Try this simple exercise this Valentine’s Day: send yourself a card. Before you send it, write ten things on it that you love about yourself. Reminding yourself of some of your lovable qualities is a great exercise. Here’s to your own inner Cupid finding love for YOU this February! Happy Valentine’s Day!
What did you think of Kathy’s reflections on self-love? How will you be embracing them this Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!