With Valentine’s Day just two days away, most of us are thinking about how we can show the people most important to us how much we love them. Expressions of love range from subtle to commercial; kisses to chocolates and everything in between, but have you thought about yourself? Before we can effectively give to others, we have to start by loving ourselves.
Inevitably when I ask the question, “what does love mean to you”, I hear answers like, “unconditional acceptance,” “patience,” “trust,” “affection.” But, when I ask, “what does it mean to love yourself,” those same answers may not reappear. There are 1001 ways to say, “I love you” to others. If putting yourself before others seems like a foreign concept, here are 10 Ways to Show Yourself the Love:
- Chill Out – Sleep in, play hooky from work or school, take a nap, read a book — just be. Give yourself a time out, and leave the guilt by the curb.
- Love Your Reflection – Seriously, look yourself in the eye in the mirror and repeat, “You are an amazing, beautiful person,” because it’s true. If this is too difficult, paste a picture of yourself as a child on the mirror and tell that little you how wonderful they are. P.S. You are one and the same.
- Be Fond of Yourself – Be kind to yourself, truly kind. If you make a mistake, cut yourself some slack. If you’ve achieved a goal you set, praise yourself loudly and proudly!
- Sing it Out – You know that love song that brings a tear to your eye, or a smile to your face? Sing it with yourself in mind. If you don’t have one, you can use mine, “Love Me Do,” by the Beatles.
- Have an Attitude of Gratitude – Grab a journal, your favorite pen, and jot down 3 things you’re grateful for about yourself. Do this everyday.
- Eliminate the Negative – Self-critique can be an addictive, self-propagating cycle. Stop it now. If you catch yourself saying something degrading, if even in jest, cut it off. Replace it with something positive.
- Trust You – Trust that all of the information and ability you need to be in the world, is already within you. You may just need to remove the obstacles that keep them from shining. Try something that scares you. Trust yourself and let go.
- Nurture Your Own Truth – Honesty is a critical part of any relationship, especially the one you have with yourself. Be honest with yourself about your needs and feelings, and nurture them like a new seedling.
- Jump on the Bed – Whether literally or figuratively, we all need to take some time out to have fun and be silly. If it’s been a while since you’ve been on roller skates, pull them out and give it a try or rent a bike and go for a ride with no goal. If you’re a yogi, try a couple of lion poses in the mirror…and laugh.
- Embrace Your Inner Yogi – If you practice yoga regularly, try a nice long heart opening sequence with plenty of backbends, child’s pose (balasana), and my favorite, fish pose (matsyasana). If you’ve never done yoga, give yourself an hour of your time, and try a class. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy surrender.
Even if you are able to work all of these exercises into your life daily, you may still struggle with putting yourself first. But know this, until we make time for and truly fall in love with ourselves, what we put out isn’t nearly what it could be.
Repeat everyday, “I love, and I am loved.” And, while you’re out choosing a greeting card, picking out the perfect box of chocolates or just spending a quite night at home, remember to be your valentine.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”