There is a terrible cliche that goes: “you cannot love someone else until you can love yourself”. Over the years, there have been so many interpretations based on the original quote that have strayed far from the truth. Most of the time people misinterpret that you must love yourself fully before you can give love. It is dated, unfair, and it is time for a change! Let’s switch it up: “you can love yourself”. This Valentine’s Day, let’s dive into self-love!
At every intake my clients hear my golden Becca rule: be nice to yourself! I believe it is a radical act of social justice to stand up against society’s ideals. We can love the things that don’t make us “Instagramable” or “picture perfect” by social media standards. Society tells us that self-love is selfish or self indulgent; that loving yourself is something reserved for influencers and models. The only way we can “deserve” such love and praise is to be perfect. But fun fact, we get to define what it means to be perfect!
Self-love starts with self kindness and learning to radically accept yourself for the things you especially don’t like. Take a second to think about it, is there a reason you don’t like a certain part of you? If you answered “it’s because X is bad because Y says so”, you’ve probably fallen into the social media trap that we can only be valued by comparison. It becomes a slippery slope when we only value things based on others opinions. We need to first establish a sense of self that is rooted in love and compassion.
H – Hear these words: you are enough. Now your turn! Stand in front of a mirror and say these to yourself, out loud. “I Am Enough”.
E – Eat those Valentine’s treats! We don’t need to harbor guilt for the cute heart shaped cupcake we had.
A – Appreciate the things you don’t like. It might feel weird to start telling the things you don’t like that you love it, so begin with appreciation. We can take a tip from the body positivity movement and appreciate how our body functions for us. For example, we may hate the cellulite on our thighs, but we can begin to appreciate our skin’s elasticity and how it grows with us. If this does not feel helpful, you can try body neutrality. Ex: My body is my body and that is not important to who I am.
R – Rest more. Another myth to debunk? That productivity and relaxation are correlated. While things like cleaning and organizing might feel good to some, it is okay if for others the most restorative practices are watching TV on the couch. Listen to your body and take breaks when you want and need to.
T – Talk to someone! We sometimes feel alone in our struggles, but relating to a friend on these common human experiences is a helpful practice in self compassion. The more we extend kindness to their pain, the more we can give it to ourselves.
Hopefully these ideas can help you begin to bridge the gap between self kindness and self concept! Allow yourself to extend some kindness you would towards a friend to yourself. Remember at the end of the day, you can love yourself by giving the same love you would give someone else.
Becca specializes in anxiety, depression, adolescents, OCD, and LGBTQ+ mental health. To learn more about Becca, read her bio here.
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