Love is a wonderful feeling. It makes us feel secure, warm, and protected. Often, we dream of receiving some form of love from others, or aspire to give some form of love to our nears and dears. However, the key to the best kind of love, lies deep within each one of us. Be it love for one’s career, partner, or the environment – all love for anything external can be directly tied to self-love. Without having love and compassion for the self, we will often find ourselves struggling to connect with things and people around us. That said, the pressures of today make it difficult to easily embark on a journey of self-love. Thus, mindfulness becomes even more important. As such, here are some pointers on how you can practice self-love in your daily life.
- Compare yourself to others. The irony is that everyone is a little less happy because they think everyone else is happier than them. Know that you are on your own timeline and life does not have to be a race. No one is behind or ahead of you. We’re all just floating in our own way through the ocean of life.
- Think what people will say. Although a South Asian staple, this is a recipe for disaster. No matter what decisions you take, you’ll never be able to please every single person. As long as your actions feel true to who you are, the rest will fall into place. Seek support from your inner circle, but don’t seek validation from those that are holding a bag of popcorn and watching the drama in your life unfold.
- Hold on to toxic relationships. Judge the role a relationship plays in your life not by its length, but by how it makes you feel currently. Try to save relationships with open communication and effort, but know that it is completely acceptable to walk away if a relationship is hindering your personal growth and tarnishing your self-esteem. If it’s doing more harm than good, let it go.
- Believe everything you think. We have a gazillion thoughts cross our mind everyday. Given the overload of messaging and media we see around us, many of these thoughts are a result of external stimuli. Ask yourself if there is concrete basis for what you’re reminiscing about, or if it is born out of anxieties and insecurities.
- Spend too much time on your phone. At your fingertips lies the entire world wrapped in the guide of Internet and social media platforms. However, in front of your eyes lie beautiful moments that can only be enjoyed by truly living in the present. Bask in the glory of making memories and give yourself time to take in your surroundings rather than mindlessly scrolling on your phone. " " DO:
- Deal with your trauma and fears. Seek counseling, talk to a trusted friend, or try meditative techniques when it comes to addressing your past or future worries. If you feel you have been supressing trauma, it is important to work through it rather than pushing it away. You’ll have a much more enriching life once you accept yourself with all your scars – they are what make you beautiful.
- Forgive yourself. We tend to overlook others’ mistakes, but are often much harder on ourselves. Know that you are not a perfect being, which makes you a unique collection of experiences. It’s all part of the human experience. Learn from things that don’t go too well and use them to make better decisions in the future. When you make a mistake, be kind to yourself and move on.
- Say No. Refusing to take on extra assignments at work or not giving someone a ride home doesn’t make you a bad person. Balance is key. Listen to your gut when you know the right thing to do is prioritize yourself. Assess your circumstances and recognize when you’re putting too much on your plate. Just be honest with others if you’re not able to say yes. They’re usually more understanding than you may give them credit for. Create healthy habits. Drink water. Sleep enough. Get in some physical activity. Eat nutritious, whole foods. Journal. Think about all that you are grateful for. Habits take persistence and consistency. Do not give up and continue building habits that you know will benefit you in the long term.
- Practice being realistic. Nobody can be happy all the time. Know that you’ll be down in the dumps some days and that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel a spectrum of emotions and don’t put pressure on yourself to feel good all the time. It’s important to acknowledge that your reactions to life’s events are always valid. If you’re there to pick yourself up eventually, it’s okay to not have an amazing day sometimes. Love for the self should exist in both happy and sad moments.
This Valentine’s Day, take a pledge of self-love and promise that you will show yourself the acceptance, encouragement, and patience you may show other loved ones in your life. By becoming aware of the different ways in which you can build on self-love, you’ll be able to create routines that enhance your quality of life and practice positivity when it comes to self-perception. There’s only one question to get started: Will you be your valentine?