This is the first of three articles to help us create more love in life – healing, calming, joyous, revitalizing love. After all, we are getting ready for Valentine’s Day! This was first published in Sixtyandme https://sixtyandme.com/love-story-self-love/https://sixtyandme.com/love-story-self-love/
According to Harvard Health, social connections and support can improve health and increase longevity. Of course, we enjoy being in good relationships, but did you know they can influence our health just as sleeping and eating well?
Clearly, there is value in ensuring we are happy and complete on the relationship front. Where to begin?
We are defining ‘love’ broadly – love for yourself, love in close personal relationships, and intimate relationships such as romance.
Each is an essential component of a life rich in relationships and love. We will explore each in the order of how love can unfold and flourish in your life.
Three years ago, when I chose to enrich my life with more loving relationships, I began with loving myself. In full transparency, I was recovering from a long-term relationship that was not supportive of me. I had to hide myself. If you have ever done that, you know that you end up feeling “not good enough.” No self-love there!
Only after falling in love with yourself are you able to nurture true intimacy with others and allow authentic romantic love to manifest.
What does it mean to love yourself?
According to the Brain and Behavior 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.” Not a small task!
Here is how that looked on my journey. I focused on creating what I wanted in my life, rather than what I thought others wanted me to do/be. I decided to only be with people that treated me with love and respect. I deepened my spiritual practices.
I allowed myself to do things that bring me joy. Some things were simple… turquoise nail polish on my toes; hiking at any speed I felt like. Other steps took a bit of commitment, such as letting go of some habits that did not serve me.
Let’s take a look at the elements of self-love.
Why do we settle for less than we deserve? It could be something a parent said, and you still carry the little girl’s interpretation of that. It could be experiences in middle school or messages you picked up as a young woman from society. It could be from a significant relationship where you were treated as though you are less than you are.
You deserve love as much as anyone else on earth. Period. Just let go of those old stories and begin with deserving. If there is a specific story you keep replaying that does not serve you, practice changing the script to one of self-worth and replay that every time it comes to mind.
Why is this important? Because if you believe you do not deserve love, you hide, and authentic relationships can not find you.
Sadly, the messages we receive as women often spark a sense of shame. We can be good looking, but not too appealing. Be smart, but not too intelligent. There isn’t enough, so let others have first.
There is only one you, so be that boldly. There is no need to “settle” nor to chase after relationships. You are worthy of full, true, loving relationships with others who encourage and support you.
How would you show up in life if you knew that what you bring to the world is valuable and one of a kind? Only you can bring your gifts into the world. Be proud of who you are.
The opposite of shame is loving yourself.
Begin by treating yourself like you would a good friend you love and respect. Each day, look in the mirror and appreciate yourself for something. Did you work out? Keep a promise to yourself or someone else? Create something or learn something? Tell yourself, “Good job!” Or appreciate some quality you have, such as being friendly, considerate, or capable.
What if you feel down? Tell yourself you can see you are feeling low and that you understand. Ask yourself what you need. Tell yourself that you love you no matter what. Hug yourself or something soft that comforts you.
Doing this is not narcissistic or selfish. It is allowing you to fully participate in and contribute to life.
Can you see how this is a giant first step in bringing more love into your life? How can someone love you when you are not loving yourself?
Byron Katie said, “Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.”
I’d love to know YOUR favorite self-love quote. What does it mean to you? In what ways have you learned to love yourself? What are your ideas for what you can do now to enrich your self-love?
Connect with Ardith at [email protected]