By Percy Mohn
Elm Staff Writer
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, everyone is bombarded with messages about love and romance. Ads will portray happy couples. Magazines are full of tips and tricks to help lovesick souls find that special someone. However, the hype of Valentine’s Day love often overlooks the most important person we should be loving.
While loving other people is necessary, we often forget that our own self-love should be a priority. We all crave the feeling of being loved and we often look outside of ourselves to find it. Love does not just have to exist in our relationships though. In fact, our interpersonal relationships can thrive if we learn to love ourselves just as much.
But just what is self-love and how can we develop it? Often, people say that self-love feels narcissistic or egotistical. However, the Merriam-Webster dictionary describes self-love as “an appreciation of one’s own worth or value” or a “proper regard for and attention to one’s own happiness or well-being.” So, no, self-love is not meant to be narcissistic. It is valuing yourself and your importance.
Simply knowing the definition, however, does little in fully developing your self-love. It is easy to say that you love yourself, but it is harder to follow through with such a statement. The world we live in is too fast-paced to properly cultivate a sense of worth within each of us. How do you practice self-love in a system that does not allow us the opportunity to do so? It is not easy to love yourself, however, it is not as hard as you may think.
One of the hardest steps in growing your self-love is to stop being so hard on yourself. In fact, according to Ana Sandoiu of Medical News Today, perfectionism is “not just ‘not ideal’ or ‘harmful when excessive,’ but actively bad. Like cigarettes or obesity.” Our society is geared toward being a perfectionist, and perfectionism is valued, but it is actively harming our views of our worth.
Moving away from perfectionism is key to our self-love. Therefore, we must defeat our inner bully. Sandoiu said, “Beating yourself up over every little error gradually chips away at your self-worth and makes you less happy” and that “happiness is something you’re entitled to, not something you need to earn.” Recognizing that you deserve happiness and that you are your own biggest bully, can help greatly in learning to love yourself.
Stopping yourself from beating yourself up can be hard, but changing the way you speak and think about yourself is key. In an article by Beverly D. Flaxington from Psychology Today, she states that we need to “practice loving self-talk” and to “use language that builds you up, not tears you down.”
Instead of berating yourself on your mistakes, focus on what you’ve done well. Reward yourself for the little things. If you would not treat another person the way you treat yourself, you probably are not practicing loving self-talk.
The most important acts of self-love, however, is recognizing that you cannot do all this alone. According to Jay Polish from Bustle, friends are essential for our wellbeing and for cultivating our self-love. Spending time away from friends can lower your self-worth and make you feel worse. Being around people you love and people who love you back does wonders for your self-image.
So, this Valentine’s Day, remember to love your significant others, love your friends, love your family, and most importantly, love yourself.