Self-love has been getting a bad rap lately. Some suggest that self-love equates to self-indulgence, pedicures, and $100 yoga tights. It is none of these things. On this wonderful Valentine’s Day, we will explore why it is the most important kind of love you can have and how to cultivate it.
Love yourself first in order to better love others. We’ve all heard the oxygen mask analogy ad nauseam: put on your own mask first so that you can better assist others (sorry to reiterate it here). The image of thumbs and index fingers held together in the shape of a heart (usually with light streaming through) is another overused love-related image whose day has come and thankfully gone. I tell you these things so that you know I am no Pollyanna. Also to establish some footing with you. Now that we’re best friends, I can tell you to become your own best friend.
Why is self-love so important? Zen tells us that when we fall in love with ourselves, we discover an endless source of love. A beautiful sentiment, indeed. But how do we make it happen? Right here in the grey of winter, in the middle of the workweek, self-love can seems pretty elusive.
Here are some small steps you can take to start to find it:
Journal – As a writer, I love this one. Check in with yourself at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Journaling is one of the best ways to get to know yourself. And to know you, is to love you.
Remember – Remember something fabulous. The word remember comes from the Latin memor ‘mindful’, the re- part expresses intensive force. Really be mindful. The act of remembering something wonderful activates the brain’s pleasure circuit. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the actual delight and the recalled delight and thus its neurons release dopamine. Which is totally dope.
Be Interesting – You would not fall in love with a boring person, so don’t be one! Do something that strikes your fancy: take a class, learn something new, read a book, listen to a podcast, learn how to Hula Hoop, learn how to teach your dog how to Hula Hoop!
Make Some Goals – Having a goal creates ambition and direction. Direction creates momentum. Momentum gets your beautiful brain moving. If images work better for you than lists or sweeping statements, make a Vision Board that represents your aspirations. Refer to it over and over again.
Take Credit Where Credit is Due – Congratulate yourself for something you accomplished. Even doing something as small as making a list and checking off little accomplishments creates motivation as it releases dopamine. Again, totally dope.
Travel – Go to Rome or go to a new coffee shop. Either way, get out of your routine to get new perspective.
Appreciate the Little Things – Your new love (YOU) may not be totally perfect. Maybe you have a lovely singing voice, or beautiful ankles, or are an exceptional astronomer, or make great puns. Appreciate that wonderful thing about yourself. Even just for a minute.
Happy Valentine’s Day.