February is a month to celebrate our most treasured relationships with our romantic partners and loved ones. However, February could also be a time to strengthen our most vital relationship with ourselves by way of self-love. This month could signify defining what it means to love and honor yourself while being gentle, forgiving and unapologetic with who we are. In the wise words of Brene Brown, "In a society that says 'Put yourself last,' self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary."
But for many, the finding of love causes a great deal of frustration and unhappiness.
And what about self-love and its significance to our happiness? Whether you're single, happily in a relationship, or in a complicated one, it's a loving relationship with ourselves that sets the foundation for all of our other relationships and is the secret to having fulfilling ones, too.
"In a society that says 'Put yourself last,' self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary." – Brene Brown
What is self-love?
Self-love is not the same as being narcissistic or selfish.
Rather, it means having a positive regard for your own well-being and happiness. When we inherit an attitude of self-love, we have higher levels of self-esteem. We are able to disarm our inner critic, celebrate our positive qualities and accept our negative ones. Additionally, learning to love ourselves enables us to emotionally connect and foster healthier relationships with others.
During the month of February, and on Valentine's Day, don't forget to celebrate loving yourself. Below are a few suggestions for making February the month for cultivating self-love:
- Learn to be compassionate with yourself. Often it can become too easy to admonish ourselves. Become attuned to what negative scripts could be playing ad nauseum in your head. Understand that this harsh rhetoric does not serve you. Challenge your self-loathing spiral by speaking to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love. Remember you are deserving of the same love and kindness you grant others.
- You are Enough. One of Brene Brown's most powerful affirmations reminds us, "We live in a culture of scarcity, of never enough. There is only one way out of scarcity-and that is enoughness. At some point we need to say: 'I am enough'." In an era where we are saturated with images of perfection, it can be a trailblazing act to accept and believe you are enough. Shed yourself of judgment and be unapologetically you.
- Make a list of the characteristics you like about yourself. Develop your own win column. Too often, we are hyperfixated on what we don't like about ourselves and what we wish to change. For most of us, recognizing and appreciating our positive qualities takes effort and practice. Set aside intentional time to read this list daily.
- Celebrate your accomplishments. No matter how big or small our successes or accomplishments are, it's important to feel worthy of celebrating them. Celebrating our accomplishments reinforces our acknowledgement and integration of our positive qualities.
- Allow yourself to ask for help when needed. Needing help is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign that you are human. It is courageous to understand your physical and emotional limits. Most of life's challenges can't be tackled alone. Allowing yourself to seek help from a trusted friend or professional reflects self-love. Asking for help is a salient way to take care of ourselves.
Need support in learning to love yourself? We're here for you.
Main Line Health's dedicated team of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, addiction specialists and social workers provide state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment for behavioral health concerns, complemented by compassionate care for your mind, body and spirit.