Love is in the air! Cupid’s got his bow & arrow, restaurants are booked out, and some of us are eagerly chomping at the bit for Valentine’s Day to end so we can score 50% off our favorite candy.
Although Valentine’s Day inspires us to show our loved ones how much we appreciate them, we wanted to encourage a different kind of affection: Self-love.
When it comes to our mental and emotional well-being, self-love is an essential component. Unfortunately, too many of us struggle to cultivate self-love, leaving us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.
Let’s explore why self-love is important, why it can be so hard to cultivate, and what we can do to increase our self-love.
Why self-love matters
Self-love is important because it sets the foundation for our relationship with ourselves. When we practice self-love, we accept ourselves for who we are and recognize our worth, which has a healthy impact on our self-esteem.
Self-love also encourages us to take care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally, and helps to protect us from outside influences that might diminish our self-worth. Feeling good about ourselves allows us to be more confident and make healthier decisions, both in our personal and professional lives.
And possibly most importantly, until we fully love ourselves, we’re never able to truly love others. Plenty of evidence that feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred can interfere with relationships. People with low self-esteem tend to underestimate their partner’s love and view their partners in more negative terms, perhaps because they don’t believe that “a good person” could love them. Those who question their own self-worth are more likely to anxiously expect rejection and always be on the lookout for rejection from their partner. From that place, a person may misinterpret a neutral act or even a positive act from their partner as hostile and rejecting.
Why self-love is so hard
Unfortunately, cultivating self-love can be difficult. We live in a culture that often puts a lot of emphasis on physical beauty and material possessions, which can make it hard to truly accept and appreciate ourselves. We may also have internalized negative messages from our past that make it hard to recognize our own worth. And the icing on the self-hate cake: Our society often puts pressure on us to compare ourselves to others, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
Ways to increase self-love
- Practice mindfulness. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel, and want. They’re more likely to act based on what they actually need rather than what others say they “should” do. Mindfulness also keeps you tapped into the present moment which can make you far more grateful for life’s little gifts.
- Practice good self-care. You’ll love yourself more when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy, and healthy social interactions.
- Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, relationships, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
- Forgive yourself. As humans, we’re often very very hard on ourselves. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect) before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures if you have learned and grown from your mistakes.
- Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. No matter how small, try to find one thing to celebrate every day.
If you struggle with low self-confidence, low self-esteem, or are having a hard time finding love for yourself, it might be a good idea to talk to someone — and we’re here to help.
At StarMed, we’re proud to offer affordable access to behavioral health.
With regular counseling sessions, our professional, licensed behavioral health providers are here to help you cope with trauma, manage anxiety and depression, and help you establish internal healing so that you can live the life you’ve always wanted to.
Learn more at starmed.care/behavioral-health.