By Kate Schjoneman
Valentine’s Day is coming up and it is one of the most dreaded holidays for both men and women as many associate it with having (or not having) a significant other. But when did Valentine’s Day become about loving someone else? What if Valentine’s Day were advertised as the day where you gave yourself the gratitude and self-love that are most typically reserved for a significant other? I know most of us are thinking, “Alright, I can give myself chocolates? I like this idea already!” Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day has also evolved into a day where we shower others with candy, chocolate, stuffed animals, extravagant dinners, ornate jewelry and sparkly cards. So, the question is, how can you shower yourself with the ultimate intangible act of self-love and kindness?
What is self-love? It may mean something different for each person and I encourage you to think about what it means to you. Practicing self-love is appreciating yourself daily. It is a gratitude that you have for your body, your beliefs/opinions and also involves genuinely believing in the true beauty of your soul. To me, it’s overcoming those voices in your mind that tell you that you can’t do something. That you can’t wear that bikini. That you can’t finish that half-marathon. That you can’t get that degree. Practicing self-love is telling yourself that you can. For some, practicing self-love is a daily occurrence, but for others, it’s a feat similar to that of climbing Mt. Everest. It isn’t something that comes overnight. It may take years to embrace the idea of self-love.
Below, I have listed some ways to explore the idea of self-love.
1. Find beauty in all individuals. I challenge you to find something beautiful in each person you observe. When you’re exercising in the gym, or sitting in the coffee shop sipping your morning cup o’ joe, look around you. Focus on one individual. Identify something that you find unique or beautiful in them. Maybe it’s their smile, their confident demeanor, or maybe it’s their infectious laugh. This task encourages you to open your eyes to details of positivity and beauty in all forms.
2. Answer these three questions. At the end of each day, ask yourself: What am I grateful for today? What do I regret about today? And what inspired me today? These questions will lead you to more awareness of what moves you or what your passions and goals are. They facilitate conscious introspection into what can help you to become your best self as they allow you to gently recognize and reflect on your mistakes.
3. Choose mantras or affirmations that drive you. These statements can be meditative or, if that’s not something you feel comfortable with, they can help you gravitate towards a sense of peace in any given moment of your busy day. Some examples might include, “I radiate love to all persons, places, and beings,” or “I am open to receiving love,” or “choose happiness”. Remember these affirmations when you need strength or empowerment.
4. Invite spirituality in. I want to emphasize here that I do not necessarily mean spirituality in a religious form. Invite all forms of creativity and life that touch your spirit and soul. Maybe this means lighting a candle, journaling, taking a nature hike, or listening to peaceful music.
5. The best way to learn is to teach. Sometimes it’s easier to start with sharing love and kind words with others than it is to start with yourself. Encourage others to practice self-love. Eventually, as you help others reframe their negative self-talk into words of positive affirmation, you may notice that there is joy in selflessly helping others. In the process you may also reveal a love for yourself that you hadn’t nurtured before.
So, when you wake up, not just on the morning of Valentine’s Day but every morning, be proud of the body you’re in. Appreciate the place your soul calls home.
When you practice self-love, you will reflect it outwardly in your actions, your mood, mannerisms, and radiate this newly found light through your skin.
About the author: Kate Schjoneman is a speech-language pathologist working in the medical setting in a skilled nursing facility. She loves getting creative in the kitchen with gluten free baking, doing yoga, and running by the lake. Stay tuned for more posts by Kate.