Here’s an update of a post I wrote last year about self-love for Valentine’s day…
Whether you are happily loved up this Valentine’s day, happily single or actively searching, one things for sure, unless you love yourself it’s going to be more difficult to have a healthy happy relationship with someone else. This may sound a little cosmic but I’d urge you to ask yourself how intact your self-esteem is?
Our children are constantly bombarded with messages of needing to look more ‘cool’, and look up to size zero models. When there’s an increase of self-harming in teenagers, and increasing depression, anxiety and suicide rates – surely our self-loathing has gone too far? I’m not suggesting that we all become vain and arrogant and ‘worship’ ourselves, but we could practice gratitude, a spirit of thankfulness, and recognise that we aren’t born with a lack of self-love. How many babies and young children berate themselves? None! They are immensely pleased with themselves. Low self-esteem is a learned trait, but we can ‘unlearn’ it and if we want to really experience love, it’s essential to practice self-love, or perhaps it would be better to see it as ‘self-care’.
Angela Bradshaw is the author of ‘Be in Balance’ and she says ‘When you practise being kind to yourself as a default ‘attitude’ to life, you can then be happier too – not overburdened or overwhelmed because you are being responsible to yourself first!’
You may have seen the rather odd phenomenon across blogs and documented in the women’s pages of daily newspapers about ‘Mirror fasting’. It’s a new craze started by a blogger who was concerned she was obsessed with her own appearance. But I’d like to encourage everyone to look in the mirror more often – but not in the name of vanity, to worry about your wrinkles, commiserate about greying hairs, or pull faces to tighten your jaw, indeed I think we should be looking in the mirror in order to be appreciative, to show love to ourselves as we really are.
Louise Hay, dubbed ‘The Queen of New Age’ by the New York Times, after writing ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ in 1984, (it’s sold over 35 million copies), owns the extremely successful international publishing company Hay House and is a strong advocate of self-love. Louise believes in affirmations and is a great advocate of what she calls ‘Mirror work’ – looking in the mirror several times a day and saying ‘I love you…..(and add your name). Just try it a few times (in private is fine) and you’ll realise how tricky it can feel. Most of us are so conditioned from an early age to be self-critical, and have low self-esteem because we feel we don’t look ‘attractive’ enough or we’re not in some way ‘good’ enough.
Hay House author David Hamilton has written books on kindness including the excellent book ‘The Five Side Effects of Kindness’, and he looked at the science of how the mind affects the body in his book ‘I Heart Me’. David says…
‘It’s so hard for most people (to love themselves) for two reasons. One is that they don’t know what self-love actually means, which makes it difficult knowing what to aim for, and two, that a lack of self-love is deep-rooted; mostly it’s a consequence of learning and experiences in the first 6 or 7 years of life.
One simple trick, that doesn’t require any effort like thinking positively, is to notice your body language. Your muscles always betray how you feel about yourself as you go about your day. So, at least 2 or 3 times a day, simply notice how you’re sitting, standing, walking, or interacting. Then shift your body language to something that says you feel good about yourself. If you do this consistently, you will start to shape your brain wiring for a more healthy sense of self-love.’