Self Love: The Best Love There Is

With the month of February already halfway over, Valentine’s Day has taken over the minds of people everywhere. Grocery stores dedicate entire aisles to all things pink, red, and white: teddy bears, chocolates, stickers, and cards covered in hearts. Phrases like “Be Mine”, “Love is in the air”, and “Puppy Love” plastered on every available surface; the idea of love is everywhere you turn.

For some, this is a very exciting time. For others, the love “in the air” feels suffocating. Being single on Valentine’s Day can be very hard. When everyone and everything is all about the love that you don’t seem to have, it is very easy to head to a very bad mental space of self loathing. It starts to seem as if the whole world is capable of being loved, other than you. But! This is absolutely not the case. Being alone on Valentine’s Day does not make you incapable of being loved at all!

Even though there may not be a significant other in your life to love you, you always have the love that you give yourself.

Self love and self care is probably one of the most important things, single or not. Although the meaning of self love can vary from person to person, it generally means understanding yourself, validating your own emotions and experiences. Self love is understanding that you may not be perfect, but appreciating the person you are and how you got to that point.

Practicing self care and self love go hand in hand. You have to take care of yourself in order to show love for yourself.

There are infinite ways to practice self love; what you need and enjoy doing is a very personal thing. One of the most popular ways of practicing self love is creating a list of affirmations for yourself. Affirmations are simply words and phrases you can say to yourself to make you feel good and encourage yourself. Examples of affirmations are “you are loved just for being who you are, just for existing” (said by Ram Dass), “Open your heart and drink in this glorious day” (said by Heather Havrilesky), or “Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life” (said by Mister Rogers). These are not the only affirmations you could use. Affirmations can even come from none other than your own heart. The important thing is that you feel a connection to the words you’re saying.

Another popular form of self love is simply doing things that make you happy, without caring about what other people think of you. If you enjoy doing something, the opinions of other people shouldn’t stop you from liking it. Getting the hateful voice out of your head is one of the most important steps of self love. This is a task that sometimes feels impossible, but the more you start ignoring that voice the closer you get to true self love.

Taking time to just be by yourself is a great way to practice self love. Doing things on your own that you would have normally done with other people (ie. seeing a movie, going to a cafe, going to dinner) allows you to experience and appreciate your own company.

Practicing acts of self care and self love allows you to learn things about yourself you wouldn’t have otherwise known. Being by yourself forces you to experience things as an individual, which lets you learn how to be comfortable in your own self.

Self love doesn’t necessarily come easy. It can be hard to unlearn old, possibly destructive habits. Sometimes self love feels like an impossible task, so self acceptance seems like a more plausible answer.

Self love is a long and ongoing process, and self acceptance is an absolutely necessary stepping stone along the way. Practicing self acceptance is simply the idea that something that you may not love about yourself still serves an important purpose for the functioning of your body. Say, for example, you are self conscious about your arms. Practicing self acceptance would mean you can understand that you may not love how they look, but they serve an important purpose of allowing you to lift objects, and more importantly, allow you to hold the people you care about.

The benefits of self love are endless. Learning to love yourself lets you learn what you would and wouldn’t like in a relationship. Loving yourself gives you an understanding of your own self worth, which gives you more confidence in yourself in and out of a relationship.

There is a common belief that you have to love yourself before you can let someone else love you. While this idea has some value (loving yourself lets you know your own self worth and could potentially make you a better partner), the end goal of self love should not simply be to end up in a relationship. This ‘loving yourself before you can be loved by others’ ideology could actually be seen as harmful to your self love journey. The end goal of self love, from this perspective, is to be loved by another person. Although being loved by someone is a positive thing to want, having this mindset can be a setback in your process of loving yourself.

The end goal of learning to love yourself should simply be to love yourself. Yes, it is important to have a good relationship with yourself before you enter a relationship, but it is not the most important thing.

Loving yourself is a complicated process; it takes time and a thoughtful lens to be kind to yourself, but just remember: even on days like Valentine’s Day, you are worthy of love, and who better to love you than you?