February 11, 2021
How to Nurture Your Relationship With Yourself First!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and our focus has accordingly shifted toward romantic love. But in 2021, most of us are focused on surviving as opposed to thriving and this often begins with self love, which can be defined in so many different ways.
What is self love?
I’m so glad you asked, because oftentimes self love is narrowly defined along the lines of spa days and bubble baths, but it can be so many different things. Self love and self care might involve working out, cooking, taking a nap, running, dancing, calling a friend, painting, attending a political protest, setting boundaries with someone in your life, working on your stamp collection or anything else that makes you feel good.
Self love is about holding your own well being and happiness in high regard. This might be in emotional ways, relational ways, spiritual ways or political ways. It’s often rooted in self compassion. Maybe it simply involves waking up in the morning and making a promise that you won’t be hard on yourself today.
What holds us back from loving ourselves?
Many factors affect how we feel about ourselves, but trauma can certainly hold us back from love. When we’ve experienced any sort of trauma — loss, abuse, hurt, distress, we often respond with coping mechanisms to protect ourselves. This might involve fear, anxiety, avoidance, self blame or other responses.
Some people develop trauma responses that involve avoiding being loved — by themselves and others. They may not feel safe enough to feel loved — even by themselves. And all responses manifest along a continuum. It might be mild or more extreme.
It can be as simple as not giving yourself credit when it’s well deserved or being really hard on yourself. Or it might involve sabotaging your relationships by looking for problems or starting fights for no reason.
Can you change some of these trauma responses?
Yes. Just as you adapted and created one response (e.g. avoidance of love), you can adapt to create a new response (e.g. embracing self love).
1. First and foremost acknowledge what’s happening if you’re avoiding love.
2. And then think about what makes you feel safe and worthy. What makes you feel secure enough to receive love? Do you feel safest and most worthy when you’re calm (e.g. after meditation or yoga)? Or do you feel safe and most inclined toward self compassion when you spend time with certain people?
- 2a. Also think about scenarios and people that make you feel unsafe and least likely to love yourself.
- 2b. And then think about what you can do to maximize the former (situations when you feel most worthy) and minimize the latter (situations when you feel unworthy).
Is it true that you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you?
No! You can be loved even if you’re working on loving yourself. Feelings and behaviours aren’t permanent arrival points. So your love for yourself will fluctuate and that’s okay. And it’s a myth that you can’t be loved if you don’t love fully yourself first.
What are some ways to invest in yourself today and why is it so important?
I’d love for you to take a moment and just say the words out loud or in your head, I am worthy. Right now. And then do something kind for yourself. Eat or drink something you love and relish in it with no apology. Stretch for a moment. Massage your own hand. Reach out to someone who makes you feel good. Mark self care into your calendar. Turn off your phone or set limits on social media apps if you find they pull you down. Go for a walk. Write down what makes you happy. Ask someone to tell you they love you. You’re not needy because you need love and you deserve to be loved today and every day.