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February: The Month of Self Love

Written by: Sim Shergill, MSc, Psychotherapist at One Elephant Integrative Health Team

February is a short, cold month. It’s notoriously known for Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate loving others and to demonstrate that love. What about self-love? We spend a lot of time in our lives, trying to love ‘other’ people. Do we spend the same amount of time, finding love for ourselves? Why is that harder? Why do we throw our efforts behind being a good partner, sibling, daughter, son, parent etc? Yet, when it comes it loving ourselves, our efforts seem to be lost. I am not talking about self-care here. It’s a true self-love. Do you love yourself? Just the way you might love another being in your life?

We push the notions of romance and love stories; we see them embedded in the world around us; constantly in the shows and movies we watch; the people we see online and around us. We circulate love stories as if they were some commodity. We fall for love stories as romantics and lovers. We dream of finding a romance that is pure and golden. We are not encouraged to be the romantic in our own life. We are not encouraged to be the lover in our own life. But if we were encouraged, if we were taught to love ourselves as complete humans, wouldn’t that make a difference?

What if, we learned to love the parts of our bodies that have carried us for this long - instead of hating the rolls or curves that come with living life? What if, we learned to love and nourish our bodies because we are connected to our bodies? What if, we practiced saying ‘I love you’ to ourselves in the mirror every day, instead of waiting for someone else to say it? What if, we practiced giving ourselves a loving touch every day? What if, we stood up against poor treatment from others because it doesn’t align with the love we have for ourselves? What if, we loved ourselves enough, that we stopped looking at ourselves as incomplete without a partner? What if, we loved ourselves enough to lose the need to achieve social timelines of marriage, children, family, career etc.

Self-love is a skill. It is not common practice. We are not taught that. We are taught to love others and give to others. We are taught loving ourselves and giving to ourselves is selfish. It is not. Self-love and self-perseveration are important parts of being human. We cannot fully feel love from others, until we are secure in the love we give to ourselves, from ourselves.

So how do we practice self-love as a skill?

1. Get to know our own personal values. Do you act on these values for yourself? If you hold being loyal to others as a strong value, are you loyal to yourself in advance?

2. Take 5 minutes each day; sit with yourself. Reflect on how you have grown through time and give yourself praise, affirmation and kindness for persevering.

3. Say ‘I love you’ to yourself every day. Use your name in the sentence. ‘I love you Sim’

4. Learn to set boundaries that allow you to have space for yourself. We hold space for others a lot! We need to learn to hold space for ourselves as well.

5. Learn to say ‘No’ when you really want to say NO.

6. TAKE UP SPACE. Your thoughts and feelings can be shared with others. Don’t hold yourself back for the fear of being judged, stepping on toes, or taking up space. You are meant to be here. You are not meant to be hidden.

7. Socialize with those who see your values and hold you accountable to loving yourself; to speaking about yourself with loving-kindness. Those we spend our time with, especially the top 5, influence our personalities and behaviours. Choose wisely.

8. Nutrition and Exercise and Sleep: Feed your body, soul and mind. By treating your own body with love and kindness, we practice self-love from a foundational place. The food we eat, nourishes our organs. If we love ourselves, we love our organs and respect them as their own little beings, just trying to keep us alive so we can meet out goals. The brain is an organ too. It needs fuel. Without the right fuel, the way we think is negatively impacted and self-compassion, kindness and optimism is impacted. Prioritize sleep and exercise to help your organs be able to do their jobs, the jobs that we take for granted; like breathing.

9. Journal - write weekly about how you have grown; what challenge did you take on that you thought you would lose? What was one nice thing that happened to you in the week? Did you notice the little positive moments?

10. Self-Compassion Practice: can you speak to yourself with compassion? If you aren’t going to talk to others in this tone, talking to yourself in a negative tone isn’t helpful either. Be kind, balanced and compassionate in your self-talk. What you say, matters! So say it compassionately!

February - the month of self-love. It isn’t just about others.

Take care!

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