The Greatest Love of All
Despite what you may have heard in songs or otherwise, the greatest love a person can have is not that of a child, a spouse, a parent, or a friend. It is the love of self. Last month, we talked about the importance of paying yourself first, but this month, just in time for Valentine’s Day, I want to talk about loving yourself first
Self-love can be expressed in a multitude of ways, but simply put, it is the attention and care you give to your own well-being and happiness. Pressure from work, family, and day-to-day life both pre-and post-COVID-19 can make self-love a struggle for anyone to maintain. We are faced with difficult decisions about how to spend our time, money, and energy every day, and our instinct is often to give everything we have to those we love leaving little to nothing for ourselves. But this way of life is not sustainable.
Imagine five cups filled halfway. One represents you and the others represent different areas of your life. For example, the cups can be your family, your friends, your job, and your passions. Now, in your mind, pick up the first cup and begin pouring a little into each area of your life. Repeat. You will see that it is not long before your cup is empty. What now? How can you continue pouring into the areas of your life that mean the most to you when your cup is empty? The hard truth is that you can’t. You may be wondering who is going to refill your cup. Well, the answer is YOU, and that is the importance of self-love because without it, it is impossible to be your best self.
Self-love is waking up every day and deciding that your well-being and happiness is your top priority. That is what will keep you fulfilled with an abundance of love and joy to share with the world. But Self-love like love itself is an action word. Proclaiming self-love without actions that remind your body, mind, and spirit of your deep love of you is as hopeless as unrequited love.
Learning to love yourself is a life-long journey and a daily commitment that requires the same effort as any interpersonal relationship. The general rule I follow when contemplating when to apply self-love is if I would do it or want it for my loved ones, then I should do it for myself too. There is no one in your life more deserving of love than you are. So, pay yourself first with love every day starting today and your well will never run dry.
Ten Simple Ways to Practice Self Love
- Practice your love language on yourself – Your relationship with yourself is going to be the most important relationship you ever have. Take time to observe and learn what makes you smile. Whether it is quality time, acts of service, gift-giving, words of affirmation, or physical touch, celebrate yourself in the ways you understand.
- Invest money in your goals – Don’t short-change your goals. Instead, plan ahead. Budget for things that will advance your goals. It may require some adjustment but get those new walking shoes or that gym membership you’ve been wanting to support your fitness goals.
- Build sufficient time for your hobbies into your schedule – Whatever your hobbies may be, designate time every day or as often as possible to do something you enjoy. Treat this time like any other appointment or meeting you cannot miss.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep daily – Sleep is vital for your body and mind’s most optimal performance. As you continue figuring out the best daily schedule for you, remember to get enough sleep so you have enough energy to positively conquer the day.
- Eat healthy, exercise, and get evaluated– You are what you eat. Fill your body with foods that nourish you and reflect your desire to live a long healthy life. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will boost your energy and mood and help you maintain a clean bill of health for when you visit your physician.
- Learn to say “NO” when you are overwhelmed and/or uncomfortable – An important part of self-love is self-preservation. It is establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, being honest with yourself and others about your capacity to perform or show up, and removing yourself from situations that do not align with your best interest. There is no shame in canceling plans or turning down an opportunity that isn’t quite right.
- Take a vacation, mental health day, or sick day when needed – Give yourself a break when you need one. The idea of returning to work after a day off can feel daunting, but you will return reenergized and with a clear mind to tackle those emails.
- Compliment yourself. Rephrase negative feelings about yourself into goals for improvement – Whether your love language is words of affirmation or not, take a moment out of every day to say a kind word to yourself about your physical appearance, character, or gifts. Try to be mindful of the negative thoughts you verbalize about yourself. When possible, flip it. Instead of “I am such an idiot”, try something like “This is an area in which I could use some improvement” or “I would like to improve my decision-making skills” depending on the context.
- Establish a positive support system that encourages and uplifts you – Surround yourself with friends and family who actively care about your happiness and well-being. Members of your support system should provide you with emotional and practical support like comfort and accountability. Try your best to allow them to step in when you need them.
- Take periodic breaks from technology and social media – Sometimes we get so engulfed in our phones and social media that we forget to live in and enjoy the moment. Turn off or put your phone on silent every once in a while to disconnect from the noise and refocus on your here and now. Also, don’t hesitate to take a social media hiatus if you find yourself drawing comparisons or spending too much time scrolling into an abyss.