What better time to talk about self-love than Valentine’s day? When I say self-love, I am not talking about a narcissistic or egocentric attitude. Self-love, or self-compassion, is the act of understanding your own weaknesses and strengths, and appreciating your multidimensionality through an approach of acceptance and positive change. If you’ve been working to improve your health, self-love is not an option, but actually a must-have attitude for achieving your goals. Here’s why:
Low self-esteem harms your wellbeing
Low self-esteem is closely related to various issues that can impair your health, such as chronic (long-term) stress, depression, eating disorders, and inflammation. Long- term self-esteem issues tend to cause constant pressure, stress, and anxiety, which makes most people feel less satisfied with their lives. These feelings can result in unhealthy practices that further impair people’s physical, emotional, and social health—such as disordered eating, excessive exercise, sedentary lifestyles, addictions, social isolation, and more.
On the other hand, people who have high self-esteem are happier, have stronger social connections, and are better able to improving their health and wellbeing. They are also more likely to instill this same ideology within their kids, family, and society.
Self-love and compassion builds self-confidence
I think one of the best ways to implement any health-related change is by practicing self-love and compassion. Self-love is not narcissistic—it doesn’t blind you from your tendencies and behaviors. In fact, it helps you to see them more clearly with compassion and resolution. For example, a self-loving person who wants to improve their health might look at their goal as an opportunity for growth and positive change. Rather than feeling helpless, this person would seek prospective answers and excitedly plan how to achieve the goal.
Compassionate self-criticism helps you see more clearly
Objective and gentle criticism is crucial to leading a well-rounded life. A compassionate critic analyzes an issue without judgment, which helps to see the possibilities for improvement. Negative criticism, on the other hand, brings up negative associations, emotions, and experiences related to change or improvement. These thoughts and feelings can result in grief, guilt, ignorance, and other factors that prevent you from learning and growing from your experiences. When trying to achieve a healthier life, negative criticism can prevent you from gauging your wellbeing, creating healthy goals, and staying consistent with your healthy habits.
On this Valentine’s Day, give as much time to appreciating yourself as you give to your loved ones. You can start by building your self-esteem, forgiving yourself for something, or challenging an old story that you feel badly about. An empty or half-filled glass does not offer as much as the one that is full. When you fill yourself with love, acceptance, confidence, and compassion, it will naturally ripple down to anyone who connects with you.