Give the Gift of Self-Love This Valentine’s Day
February 14th, or Valentine’s Day, commemorates an ancient pagen fertility celebration, which is why the modern observance centers on couples. But what if you simply focused on love in general—and more specifically, self-love? What would that look like?
Wait—Isn’t Self-Love Selfish?
If practiced healthfully, no. Self-love is often the bedrock of our individual existence, affecting how we perceive ourselves, tend to wellness efforts, and interact with others. It’s the root of healthy self-esteem and provides a compass for future choices.
It’s easy to confuse the term self-love with selfishness, an inflated ego, and even narcissism. This is partly because we don’t have true role models of people living well with aspects of self-love—and we might struggle with the concept ourselves as a result. Psychologist and family empowerment coach Lynyetta Willis says, “Self-love isn’t a one-dimensional concept that you possess or you don’t. It’s a multidimensional learning process that requires daily attention.”
In this article, Willis outlines self-love behaviors that many of us should have learned as children that she encourages adults to model now. They include:
- Self-awareness. “When we tell ourselves that we are unworthy of love, or not good enough, we show up in ways that support this belief,” Willis says. “The first step towards self-love is to gain insight into how you talk to yourself.” She suggests “eavesdropping” on yourself by taking five minutes to examine your thoughts and what they “sound” like: Are they gentle? Harsh? Hurried? Skeptical? Soothing? These are clues into how you really perceive yourself, how you show up in the world, and what you might need to work on to build greater self-love.
- Self-compassion. Willis says that it’s ironic how “it’s easier to extend compassion to others while criticizing ourselves.” Her recommendation? Write down the self-admonishments you use, read them aloud, and then reflect on how someone else, such as a loved one, might feel if you spoke to them in the same way. This exercise provides the necessary pause you need to understand why self-compassion is so important.
- Self-acceptance and self-expression. “This is our ability to non-judgmentally embrace all aspects of who we are, including those we believe to be less admirable,” Willis says. “When we judge our personal traits or behaviors, we assume others judge us along those same lines.” Then, we have fear of judgment, which limits our abilities to set boundaries, live authentically, and celebrate our accomplishments and progress.
If you never received such clarification about the importance of self-love, now you have the opportunity to focus on building a strong relationship with, well, yourself!
Embracing Self-Love With Self-Care
For some individuals, choosing the path of recovery might be the first time they’ve really shown up for themselves. Maybe you identify with this. Perhaps you once believed you’d never get to the bottom of your substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. You might have even thought healing wasn’t possible. Now here you are, either in recovery or on the cusp of it, ready to change your life for the better.
This is a momental example of self-care: an instance when your preservation instincts enabled you to choose health over disease, discovery over secrets, and peace over chaos. What steps can you continue to take to foster a stronger sense of worth? Here are some ideas.
Prioritize your health. A whole-foods diet, regular exercise, proper sleep…sounds like a brochure from a doctor’s office, right? Nevertheless, these and other wellness habits are sound, proven measures for better emotional, mental, and physical health.
Develop meaningful routines. Even the most spontaneous souls among us benefit from a certain structure. The key to success is finding purpose in routines that matter most to you. Does your day start off right when you have 15–20 minutes of reflection or prayer first thing in the morning? Is there an opportunity to have “me” time to exercise and clear your mind? Do you find it easier to unwind from the day if you have a chance to sit in your favorite chair and read before bed? Showing up for yourself is reflected in these and other routines and rituals.
Choose positivity over pessimism. While it’s true that not everyone can be cheerful about everything, and we all come down from the pink cloud of addiction recovery at some point, your attitude definitely influences your daily outlook, how you feel about yourself, and the strides you make to enhance self-love. Work toward recognizing the value gratitude has in your life, and how it helps you see both sides of every situation.
Be involved in activities that matter to you. As Willis pointed out above, it’s essential to celebrate your accomplishments and progress. Making time to contribute to the hobbies, activities, and charitable efforts that you hold dear reinforces your identity.
You Deserve the Quality Care Seabrook Provides
Our board-certified professionals understand the vital connection between “love of self” and long-lasting wellness. With our addiction treatment model, clients learn their worth, not just on a specific day, but every day, so they have a life of promise. Ask how we can help you or a loved one.