“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are”Malcolm S. Forbes
Self-love, quite simply, is about paying attention to your own happiness and wellbeing. Despite the misconceptions, it doesn’t have anything to do with being selfish or egotistical. Self-love is a basic human need, yet one we tend to preach more than we practise.
In recognition of a global self-love deficit, I decided to start a whole week dedicated to the state, day one being Valentine’s Day 2019. It’s a day we share our love with others, but it’s also a day when enough of us focus on the love we don’t have from others. I’ve been the single girl on Valentine’s Day and I don’t think it should be a bad thing. It seemed only appropriate that I helped bring the love back.
To start, there were a few things that I made sure I did every day, based on what I already know about self-care, self-love and my own needs:
- Walk or run at least 10,000 steps
- Spend quality time with loved ones
- Be kind to others
- Enjoy good music
- Challenge negative thoughts
- Reflect on the positives of the day
- Look at myself naked(!)
All of the above would contribute either to my own positive vibes or a general appreciation of “the self”.
At the beginning of the week, I made the mistake of thinking booking a day off work for a bit of pampering was was going to relax me and make me feel good about myself.
The nail technician at Lashious was perhaps inexperienced. My little finger bled for what seemed like an hour and she eventually applied gel polish over the top of the ooze. I left with a crust and rushed off to my hair appointment.
With my icky finger and uncut, uncoloured hair, I impulsively bought a bottle of hair dye from Boots, some nice clothes and went home to have a romantic evening. This wasn’t a self-love day.
Love Notes to Myself
OK, this may sound odd, but push aside any images of soppy love letters that have just entered your mind (although let’s not rule that out!). The idea here was to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives; the strengths rather than the weaknesses. It’s also about recognising what I love about myself, rather than what other people can love about me (very important for self-love).
These notes from Flying Tiger were fantastic.
What was going to become an indulgent self-love exercise instead has become a family ritual. There are 5 of us at home. We each have a colour and share what we love about ourselves before adding it to the pot. We are putting together a self-love pot for future memories.
Self-love has spread throughout the house, so this is definitely a positive from the week.
Great Times with Great People
I’ve mentioned being an extrovert before. Being around positive people gives me energy and so socialising is a form of indulgent self-love for me. Saturday was my peak day for this. I spent the morning with my immediate family, the afternoon and early evening with my extended family to celebrate my sister’s birthday and the night with friends to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Being able to relax, laugh and enjoy myself was an important part to feeling good about myself. Endorphins are key to self-love.
Writing, Blogging, Networking
Spending time on a passion is another self-love indulgence. Stevie.buzz is a hobby for me, a stress-free way to escape. I spent time writing, sharing the petition I had created and promoting my blog posts on social media. I do it because I like it, rather than to achieve an end goal, which is quite liberating and a welcome distraction.
I wanted to be mindful every day. I always find moments to do so, whether that’s on the train, on my daily walks, or at home. They are however the smallest moments and I am easily distracted, always on the go.
The Lessons I learned
I thought this week would just be lovely and that I’d come out the other side feeling relaxed and more positive than ever. Instead, I learned quite a bit:
- Self-love is about appreciating who you already are, not focusing on what you want to change
- It is difficult to dedicate time every day to practising self-love and effort is required to make it a state of being
- The only person you can truly rely on for self-love is you
- Despite that, we need other people to love ourselves, whether that be by indulging in their company, helping them, or listening to their advice (sometimes it’s allowing them to repeat your own advice back)
- Being mindful is very different to living mindfully; the latter takes more effort and has a greater impact, I’m sure
- Positive thoughts (personal compliments, celebrating successes etc) and positive experiences (for me, socialising) have a greater impact than creating change (being prettier, setting goals)
- There are negative influences on my life that needn’t be there. Their influence is significant, yet generally overlooked
My week of self-love has been a great time for reflection. It has enabled me to think about the negative influences on my life and the changes I would like to make. I will take positive action to remove negative influence in my life following this week, for the sake of my happiness and wellbeing. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to write about that later!
I quite like it when things don’t go to plan and the unexpected consequences are actually far more interesting. What was supposed to be an education to help me support others has been an important part of my own self-development journey. There is no doubt in my recommendation to others to dedicate some time to self-love and what that might mean. If you do, please let me know how you get on!