Happy Valentine’s Day, to me!  Certainly, we have all heard someone make the statement, “You’ve got to love yourself first, or you can’t expect to be loved by another…” at least once. This is true, without a decent amount of self-love, the love of another person will feel revolting and foolish and we often times subconsciously set out to repel and disappoint it, possibly through our overt behaviors or misconstructions that we don’t deserve the deep affection of another being, which speaks volumes of individuals who also fall in love with others who lack self-love.

Often times the idea of self-love can get confused with being self-centered. This is not the case, self-love consists of acknowledging who you are and accepting yourself as a whole being, mind, body and spirit. Self-love is not just about maintaining a keen physical appearance, or conforming to society’s standards of beauty, or telling ourselves “I’ll love myself when I lose these last 5 pounds.” Just as happiness is not a destination, neither is self-love. Self-love allows us to make more sound decisions surrounding important aspects of our lives such as interpersonal relationships, health, psychological well-being, and spirituality.

“But, what is self-love, and how can one grow to love themselves?” Self-love is a process of fully accepting all aspects of ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, our failures and our successes. Self-love is knowing when to say no, when to set boundaries and when to let-go. Even having compassion for others entails some aspects of self-love.

Below you will find 5 steps to beginning the journey back to SELF:

Setting Boundaries:  Having the ability to say no, whether it is to a loved one whom you have always been a rock for, a job that you have always loved, or a partner who’d you often feel you’d do anything for, it is important to know your own limits. If you don’t know your limits, it will be imperceptive to think someone else will even care to.

Self-Care:  You will develop more self-love when you become more conscious of what you consume, this includes your nutrition, media overload, exercise, thought patterns, intimate connections and other social-interactions. People who love themselves are also particular about the company they keep. They tend to want to surround themselves with those of higher energetic frequencies, and make every attempt to steer clear of negativity.

Set Your Intentions: One definite way to self-love and self-appreciation is to live purposefully. Living each day with meaning and visualizing what it is you truly desire, and recognizing any barriers you’ve subconsciously adopted that are keeping your desires from becoming a reality, creating daily rituals and repetition so that you don’t forget to stay focused are all features of living with intention. When we live with purpose and see meaning in our everyday lives, we are more likely to love and appreciate ourselves for who we are.

Mindful Meditation: Practicing mindful meditation is a good way to enhance one’s awareness of the present moment, by paying attention to your body, thoughts and feelings. It helps to decrease fears of the future or regrets of the past, bringing about many forms of healing and gratitude for where you are in that moment, on purpose, without judgement, and with love.

Letting Go: When you know when to let go of negative thought patterns, outdated views, self-loathing statements,  past mistakes, certain behaviors, and even people who no longer serve your best-interest, this is a sign that you are on a journey to healing and self-love.

People who love themselves didn’t get to that place over night. They’ve endured many situations, experiences, and lessons that have led to their ultimate decision to love themselves unconditionally.  Learning from our past mistakes, and the mistakes of others, is definitely an important facet while on the journey to self-love. When taking small steps in this process, success can be even more promising. Tell yourself each and every day that you are deserving of the love you give to others, and when you love yourself first, you give others permission to love you back.

By, Ashley Vazquez, EAP Counselor, MBA, MA