February is the month when we usually focus on loving others. Which, of course, is a very good thing to do -- but so is loving yourself. One of my favourite quotes is, "You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection." ~ Buddha
We've all come to SparkPeople to improve ourselves and part of that process is self-acceptance and self-compassion. Research has shown that self-compassionth - the practice of stopping all judgment of yourself, accepting yourself fully, and being kind to yourself regardless of what you do or don’t like - is the real key to feeling motivated to work on improving yourself. It starts with noticing that critical voice inside your head and consciously replacing it with a voice that sounds more like a caring friend.
"But how does one love oneself?
In The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he identifies the five ways in which we can give and receive love. Below, these languages are applied to self-love with practical suggestions:
1. Words of Affirmation: Think Self-Love
*Practice daily affirmations. Our thoughts precede our emotions and behaviors.
*Recite mantras that encourage self-compassion. Bring your attention to being good to yourself.
*Journal your strengths and everything about you for which you are grateful. Document everything you accomplish, feel good about, do right, like about yourself, etc.
*Keep your self-talk positive. Turn down the volume of your inner critic and choose to be your best coach or cheerleader.
2. Acts of Service: Do Self-Love
*Prepare healthy meals for yourself. Put thought and effort into grocery shopping and meal preparation.
*Create an organized, clean and aesthetically pleasing home environment for yourself. Love where you live, even if on a budget.
*Schedule regular physical, dental and mental health check-ups. Address any health concerns in a timely manner if they arise. Without your health, you have nothing.
*Groom yourself with love and care. Put yourself together so that you feel like the beautiful person that you are.
3. Receiving Gifts: Absorb Self-Love
*Buy only what you love. Don’t allow things in your home and closet that don’t bring you positive vibrations. (While you’re at it, purge that which does not bring you joy.)
*Gift yourself with an experience on your bucket list. Always wanted to sky dive or go whitewater rafting? Budget it out and plan it. Enlist the help and support of friends as needed.
*Invest in your education and advancement. Want to pursue a higher degree? Take a cooking class? Learn how to be a yoga instructor? Do the research, apply for grants and scholarships, volunteer to learn new skills. Gift yourself with knowledge.
*Treat yourself to the wisdom and perspective gained from travel. Limited funds? Consider volunteer or service work or pooling together resources with friends and traveling on the cheap.
4. Quality Time: Be Present with Self-Love
*Set aside time for daily mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These devotions will help you connect with your highest self.
*Make time for leisure and hobbies. Time for play and enjoyment is an important aspect of celebrating the gift of life.
*Prioritize sleep and exercise. You must reboot and revitalize your physical being.
*Do not over-schedule, over-book or over-commit. Your life is worth more than being a gerbil on a wheel...
5. Physical Touch: Feel Self-Love
*Stretch your muscles and give yourself a massage with a foam roller. Relax into your body.
*Release toxins by taking a hot bath with epsom salts. Release the stress and soak in the love.
*Moisturize your skin with lotions or oils. As you touch your skin, thank each body part for all it does for you.
*Give yourself a spa treatment: manicure, pedicure, facial, deep conditioning treatment, etc. Know you are worth extraordinary care."
While many of the above suggestions may not be possible for different reasons, many of them are. Self-love is a journey and it will take dedication, devotion, and practice, but we are absolutely worth it!!
Coincidentally I heard this song on the radio this morning and while it's not wholly applicable it sure did strike a cord with me - "I've Gotta To Be Me" by Sammy Davis Jr. - an oldie, but a goodie. If you've got a minute, take a listen at: www.youtube.com/