A few weeks ago Sabina posted an informative blog about self-love versus self-hatred, and the different ways you can incorporate self-love into your life. I felt that this topic was so important (especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner) that now would be a perfect time to talk more about what self-love is, and how it can benefit you in every aspect of your life.
When we think of the month “February”, it’s almost instinctive for our minds to wander right to the concept of love. Love can come in many forms and intensities. We can love someone as a brother, sister, friend, significant other, spouse, and the list goes on. Love does not even necessarily have to be for another person; we can love our pets, our jobs, our cars, and who could forget food? So how does one word encompass so many different feelings? Because each of these forms of love all centralize around one very important component- self-love.
All kinds of love can be fulfilling, but first you must let them be; and, the first step to accepting love is to first have it for yourself. The most important love to have is self-love. And, from having self-love, you are then allowing other forms of love to open up to you. You may be wondering, “Why is self-compassion so important?” and “how can loving myself allow me to love others, and others to love me?” Well, in order to understand the answer to these questions, we will need to know how to define “self-love”.
Self-love is a noun that is in “regards to one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic)”. So, to break this definition down a little more, self-love does not mean you are infatuated with yourself, rather that you accept yourself for who you are; flaws and all. Because, after all your little quirks and differences are what really make you, you! It also means that you respect yourself enough to do what is best for you and your own personal growth. And, stemming from this, self-compassion is when you give yourself the credit for all of the good you have done instead of harping on your failures. Self-love and self-compassion go hand-in-hand.
Now that we understand what self-love and self-compassion really mean, how does that help us to answer our questions about the importance and relevance of self-love to allow ourselves to love and be loved? Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., talks about the benefits of self-love and compassion in her article, “Overcoming Shame: The Powerful Benefits of a Little Self-Love”. She discusses three main benefits of practicing self-compassion, that I think can really help us answer these questions.
- Self Compassion Leads to Increased Strength
Strength in this context is meant to describe the motivation to do what is best for us, as opposed to easiest.
- Self Compassion Leads to Increased Productivity
Productivity increases because it allows the person to see failure as a learning opportunity, as opposed to a reason to give up.
- Self Compassion Leads to Decreased Stress
Stress is decreased because we are not focusing all of our energy on the negatives and self-criticism.
Now, knowing all of these things, how does that help us to understand our questions from earlier? It’s really quite simple when you think about it. Increased strength to motivate one’s self to do what is in his/her best interest, embracing challenges, and thinking positively about one’s self allows us to not only give love, but to more willingly receive it. Because if you do not love yourself, how can anyone get to know your true self? When you open up your mind to new ways of thinking, you may be surprised at how quickly your heart will follow.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of self- love, and Emma M. Seppälä’s four practices for boosting self-compassion, and the three elements of it, just click here!
– Virginia Johnson
Are you struggling with self-love and self-compassion in your life, or simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.