Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about the most important kind of love – loving yourself! You are the most important person in your life that needs to be loved. When you love yourself, you have more capacity to truly love others, and to spread that love into the world. All too often, we forget how to practice self-love, or we think that loving ourselves isn’t important. (Or worse – that self-love is a bad thing!)
I’m here to remind you: it’s most definitely not selfish! I probably need to do a whole episode on that, because so many women feel selfish taking care of themselves first! In reality, it’s selfless and smart, because it’s going to help everyone in your life.
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Self-Care vs. Self-Love
You might be confused about the difference between self-love and self-care so let’s talk about it.
Self-care is an act of self-love – so self-love is all encompassing.
Think about your child – you take care of them by feeding them, bathing them, helping them with their homework which is also a way to show them you love them. But you also love them by talking kindly to them, smiling at them, hugging them, giving them gifts, doing nice things for them, encouraging them when they’re down, and the list goes on.
Today, I’m going to give you 6 things to focus on while learning how to practice self-love.
First, I want you to start practicing noticing what you do love.
If you don’t currently love yourself, it’s easy to be in a state where you don’t really love much about your life. So, I find it a bit easier to notice what you do love, and get yourself in a more positive mindset before you dive into some of deeper practices surrounding self-love.
This can look like noticing what you love about different people in your life. It can be noticing what physical things you love that you surround yourself with in your home and office. You can start noticing what you love about the different activities you do in your day.
Once you start noticing what you love, take the time to appreciate what you do have. This is a start of a gratitude practice, and the more you can be grateful for what you have, the more you are going to enjoy your life. So start with the awareness and appreciation of the lovely aspects of your current life to get you in the more positive, loving state of mind. And that is the first step towards being able to practice self-love.
Second, I want you to figure out how you love to be loved (and start practicing self-love).
Have you heard about the five love languages? Do you know your top two love languages? I learned mine about two years ago and it’s been a game-changer for me in the relationship with myself and others.
In the book, it separates the love languages into five categories: acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation.
You can take the test over at 5lovelanguages.com. (But really, you don’t even have to take the test – you can just start thinking about and noticing what others do that make you feel loved.)
Try taking out the trash for yourself, or telling yourself how great of a job you did on your work project. You could give yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers too. Try making a long list of things that make you feel loved and appreciated. Then notice the commonalities!
For me, my top two love languages are quality time and acts of service. If my husband does the dishes without me asking, I feel loved. If we have a good conversation while making dinner, I feel loved.
Once you know how you love to be loved, start practicing those ways to love yourself!
It’s no wonder how I feel so recharged and more like myself when I have some good quality alone time with myself. Journaling, taking myself to a meal, or just going on a nice walk.
And for acts of service – I prepare beautiful and delicious meals for myself. I also make regular health appointments for myself, I give myself a nice face mask, or get dressed up in a way that makes me feel my best. All of these small things are ways I can practice self-love.
If yours is words of affirmation – you need to be telling yourself “good job” and “you are strong” and “I am worth it”.
For gifts – that could be consistently buying yourself things that bring you so much joy. I just bought myself a subscription to a magazine to feel like I get a little gift in the mail each month.
For physical touch – that could be spending extra time on your skincare routine, using some really nice lotion to rub into your body, give yourself a hug when you are having a bad day, do a self-massage your hands and feet.
Figure out how to practice self-love in a way that feeds your soul. Also, share this info with your loved ones so they can know how to best love you. Ask them how they want to be loved as well, so you can love them how they want to be loved.
Third, quiet the inner mean voice in a loving way.
That inner mean voice gets nasty sometimes. Telling you things like “You have no willpower – why did you eat that?” or “You aren’t strong enough to do this” or “If you only lost 20x, you would look way better ”Yikes, she can be ugly!
But you know how when people and children act out, they are usually just wanted to feel seen and heard? Often there is something else going on that’s making them act in such a way.
As you maybe know from watching movies and TV shows where kids act out in school – they just need more attention and love.
So tell your inner mean voice you hear her and see her and everything is going to be ok. Tell her how it’s going to be ok, and why she is actually wrong about her negative feedback.
So if she says, “If you could just lose the weight, you’d finally look good.”, you can remind her, “I’m so sorry you feel that way. But the truth is that you look great at any size, and the only thing that matters is your attitude. So let’s work on being more loving and taking care of yourself, and that will make all the difference.”
Give her some love and guidance on how you are going to move on from here, just like she is a young girl that needs a big hug.
Fourth, make sure your mindset it in the right place while you take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is a big part of loving yourself.
And going to the gym can be a great act of self-love! But if you are going to the gym to burn off the big lunch you had that you feel really guilty about – that’s self-punishment. So anything you are doing to take care of yourself, make sure it’s done because you want to take care of yourself.
Just like if you feel you need to lose weight: doing a diet to try to shrink yourself is not self-love.
Creating a new habit of eating salads at lunch because you have more energy in the afternoons: that is an act of self-love.
Make sure the mind is in the right place, my friends, or else the habit is not going to stick. And when you do reach your goal, it’s not going to feel nearly as satisfying as you thought it would, because on the inside, you still hate yourself.
Fifth, keep moving forward, even when life gets in the way.
You are always going to hit roadblocks or have setbacks. It is just a partof life. But if you make it mean something bigger than it has to and get stuck in the “why me” phase, you are going to stay stuck and self-sabotage yourself.
For example, your coffee was made wrong at the coffee shop. The train got stuck. Your child threw a tantrum. You could tell yourself “This is going to be a horrible day!” and continue to see every negative thing. Or you can realize these things happen, and take a few minutes to do something to reset. Maybe a meditation or a nice chat with a friend. Then keep moving on.
There will be setbacks. You can always take a quick rest if you need it. But then keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Lastly – number 6 – you have to learn to accept the things you do not love.
Acceptance is a hard one, but it’s an important piece in loving yourself. (So ironic that the best way to practice self-love is to accept what you might not really love!)
You aren’t going to LOVE every single part of yourself. The more you can accept it and embody all the different things that make you, you – the better your life will be.
Something simple you can do is say it out loud. A nice phrase that I learned from the emotional freedom technique is:
Even though I have bigger arms than I want, I fully and completely love and accept myself.
Although I’m not as outgoing as I’d like, I fully and completely love and accept myself.
Even though I don’t make as much money as I’d like, I fully and completely love and accept myself.
Just like people you love in your life. You probably don’t love every single little thing about them. But you fully and completely love and accept them anyways.
I talked about this in an email recently and called out my husband. He most likely would never have read the email, except a mutual friend told him about it! It was pretty funny.
He always takes off his socks when he puts a blanket on, like when he’s on the couch. So socks are strewn about the house quite often! So no, I don’t love that he leaves he socks strewn about the house. But does that make a difference in how much love him? Nope, not at all.
On the flip side, he has to deal with my multiple tea mugs I leave strewn about the house. So I guess it’s kinda even. And he loves me anyways too.
Practicing Self-Love is Healing
Bringing awareness to those things you may never love is a healing moment. You can take a minute to acknowledge that you may never love this piece about yourself. However, you are consciously going to accept and practice self-love anyways.
Ok, friends! Now it’s time to go love yourself (and others) tomorrow! It’s going to be weird having a Valentines day in the states for the first time in 7 years! As a holiday, it wasn’t really celebrated in Switzerland. But I’m looking forward to it. It’s fun to have these holidays feel new and exciting again.
I hope you have an amazing holiday for those that celebrate, and a lovely week.
(Listen to the full episode on my podcast, Quit Dieting for Good!)