Valentine’s Day is approaching, and with it comes classic celebrations with flowers and candy, as well as an opportunity for friends to gather. It got me thinking about what love really is, and how it can tie into our mental health and well being. Setting aside romance, or feelings of love for others for just a moment, we can also take a deeper look at what this really means to us as individuals.
Love, in the simplest sense, is a feeling that comes from deep within ourselves. It allows us to feel deeply about someone, and to prioritize another's well-being or happiness above things like work or basic friendships. It means respect and loyalty. Love brings with it the feeling that the recipient of the love you feel is somehow worthy of your trust, and your focus. As a result, you put that relationship above all and work on nurturing it. As we prioritize things, they grow, and the feelings deepen.
While this is certainly important in any relationship, it can also be important in the way that we love ourselves. If you look at the definition above, you can see how easily these qualities could apply to how you treat yourself, or how your inner voice talks to you when no one is around to listen.
Do you prioritize your own well being and happiness above work or friendships? Do you respect yourself? Respecting yourself can sometimes mean that you don’t get into relationships, if they are not healthy for you, so you can see how this is a good first step in understanding love.
Loving Yourself Unconditionally
So often, we hear of people who are in relationships where they feel that they will only be loved if they somehow meet the expectations of the other person. For example, you may have felt someone loved you, but only if you kept your room clean and ate your vegetables. Or, you may have felt that you were unworthy of love if someone in your life or other external influence made you think you were “too fat”, “too thin”, “not smart enough”, or “lazy”.
When we love unconditionally, it means that no matter what we say or do, that we are enough. Think about that for a moment. We are always enough. If we can embrace that meaning as truth, it can be our guiding light to see ourselves as worthy of love. Then, and only then, can we prioritize ourselves and allow ourselves the freedom to learn what we want to learn, and to experience life with utter freedom and strength.
How We Self-Sabotage Ourselves
Growing up, my first ideas of love came from my family, but so often they seemed to be tied into how I was dressed, whether or not I had cleaned under my fingernails, and whether I brushed my teeth. It took me years to realize that this was just how my parents showed love.
Oftentimes, those that love us don’t realize their actions may be perceived as “I’ll love you if….” What actually hurt me more was my own inner voice, that told me that the 25 pounds I had put on would somehow make me “ugly”—and this illogically would spiral into thinking that if I was ugly, then I was undeserving of love. Repeatedly beating ourselves up and comparing ourselves to others leads to a false perception of ourselves, resulting in doubt whenever we are told we are beautiful: we do not actually believe it. This negative conditioning can also extend to other parts of our lives any time we receive positive feedback about how we look, how we act, or what we accomplish.
We do have the power to silence that small voice in our own head, and to tell it to be quiet! If you need help, you can get a piece of paper and begin to write the reasons why you are worthy of love. This can be a daunting task for many people. If it is too difficult, start with someone else that you hold dear, maybe even a pet. What do they do that makes them worthy of love? Are they light-hearted? Funny? Intelligent? Do they turn up when you need them and are sad? Do they eagerly anticipate being with you, without care to what you wear or the location where you meet?
If you can do that exercise, then you can take a pen and paper and do one for yourself. When I first began this exercise, I was able to start by thinking of things that I had in common with the people that I loved. I was a good friend, and I was trustworthy with people’s emotions. I meant well. I was caring about feeding people, or I tried to anticipate what my friends needed, and then did what it took to make them happy.
At the end of the exercise, hopefully you have a list of reasons why you are worthy of love.
Giving Ourselves Much Needed TLC
Set some time aside this week (and every week!) to show yourself some love. Think about it like you were preparing something special for a dear friend. If you can, take yourself to a movie or to lunch, or maybe do a spa day with a facial mask or a pedicure.
My favorite spa day is every weekend, when I do a facial scrub, using Reveal Exfoliating Facial foam. During the week, I just use the foam to remove my dead skin cells, but on the weekend, I like to mix two pumps of the foam with a teaspoon of kaolin clay to create a mask.
- Massage the mixture of Reveal and kaolin clay on to clean skin, and leave it on for up to five minutes. Rinse with cool water, and pat dry.
- Apply a few drops of facial oil, like our fair trade Virgin Marula Oil
- Follow with Pure Moisture and Awaken Eye Serum for a refreshed, and hydrated skin.
- A couple times a week, treat your hands, feet, and body to our body polish for an extra layer of pampering.
- Taking that extra time to put on soft music, light a candle or diffuse essential oils can make it extra special.
This Valentine's Day, I encourage you to think about love in a more personal sense, and to find ways to show love to others, but most importantly, to see yourself worthy of that same love, through loving self talk and self care.
Bye for now!
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