One of the greatest joys of being single on Valentine’s Day is that it affords the golden opportunity of celebrating one of life’s most important triumphs: self-love.
As countless licensed and armchair psychologists have noted, without the love and acceptance of oneself we are not fully capable of offering a complete love to anyone else. That means every Valentine’s Day decadence — the chocolate, sexy lingerie and Zales' diamond infinity necklaces — are simply idol and useless without the foundation of self-love for support.
This February 14, before diving head-on into the bottom of a glass at XYZ neighborhood singles’ bar, remember what Whitney Houston once said: "learning to love yourself / it is the greatest love of all."
Regard the following points as a preliminary guide. This place is a mere starting point and, while these insights may not guarantee instant results, when used as a daily tool they will encourage self-esteem and, at best, sow the seeds of a life-long self-love affair.
Often times, those who have the most self-love are those who have the most self-awareness. In order to improve ourselves we must first be willing to examine the tools with which we are working. Without the knowledge of such, we are hapless, rolling around with no direction, utterly and embarrassingly oblivious.
Imagine trying to improve your table manners but never noticing that you chew with your mouth open or eat with your elbows out. Developing mindfulness not only allows a better understanding of yourself but also the world around you.
Perhaps the most essential step in the self-love process is acceptance. This means taking a good, long look at yourself — the person you fall asleep with at night, the person whose teeth you brush every morning — and accepting him or her, while simultaneously working to make them the best creature they can be.
Sure, almost everyone has a list of personal failings and shortcomings. It’s totally okay to dislike these things. In fact, it’s important to dislike these things. It is even more important, however, to use these criticisms for self-improvement.
Cut the can’t
Pay special attention to the words you choose in daily conversations. Many people utilize a tremendous amount of negative speak without even realizing it or fully understanding the implications. Among affirmationists, these words are considered to be snapshots of what we truly believe about ourselves and, furthermore, what we are manifesting in our lives.
It’s pretty amazing how, by simply tweaking a few words, we can completely alter our perceptions. By eliminating negative speak (“can’t,” “wouldn’t,” “shouldn’t”) from our vocabulary and, what’s more, negative sentence structure (“I can’t do it,” “that won’t work,” “I don’t want that”), we are open to a more positive state and, thus, better attuned to success.
Focus on the positive
Resist the urge to pick yourself apart. Self-love means developing comfort with who you are, how you look, and what you want from life. These individual qualities, among many others, are what make you precious and rare. It is your duty to yourself, by way of positive speak and self-appreciation, to honor and respect your uniqueness at every turn.
So the next time you find yourself standing in front of a mirror, practice focusing on what you like. Maybe at first you can start with looks — an interesting freckle formation or a set of stunning cheekbones — then later move on to the qualities that actually define you — a strong sense of character or a giving heart.
Take care of yourself
Self-love isn’t just about staring in the mirror, reciting affirmations, or eliminating negative speak. It’s about self-care, too. Make time for the things you love and you will love yourself more. Nourish yourself with daily exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, responsible intimacy and healthy relationships. Set boundaries and limit the reach of potentially toxic interactions or superfluous sources of stress, such as activities that drain you emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually.
Once a week (let’s say Valentine’s Day, for starters) consider sneaking out of work a little early to partake in a guilty, selfish pleasure. Think of it as taking yourself out on a date. If once a week really isn’t possible, try once every two weeks or even once a month. The important thing is that you honor yourself.
Remember: Valentine’s Day, just as life, is a lot about how we look at it. Have some fun, let your hair down, focus on the positive, and resist the urge to drunk-dial your ex.
Try taking the aforementioned tips for a test drive and, when nobody’s looking, take a long look in the mirror and whisper some sweet nothings to yourself. You’ll be surprised at how great it feels.