This month is February. And here’s the thing, February, to me, automatically triggers one important thing, right? And that’s Valentine’s day, I consider February to be the love month. Yeah, it has President’s Day in there but it’s really all about the hearts. And I thought it was pretty important to have a conversation about love.
And this isn’t going to be a mushy kind of conversation, but it’s something that we ‘ought to have because we don’t necessarily learn about it in a context for us to have healthy relationships. But I don’t want to have a conversation about a two-person relationship, whatever type of relationship that may be. Rather, I want to have a conversation about the relationship with yourself.
This type of relationship with yourself is something that is critically important. We don’t give enough credence to it. And here’s the reason why I believe this is. My running theory of why we do not put enough emphasis on self-love or “self-” anything, really, is that as children we’re taught not to be selfish. We were told that we have to share; we have to give; we have to do all of these things that are not for ourselves. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. These instructions are great and necessary as we sure up an inclusive culture.
Given this context then, the concept of self-love causes many to hear their parents’ voices saying self-love is being selfish. As a result, there is a huge challenge for people to take grasp of self-love.
But I want to turn that around. I want to have a conversation on how we can turn that around and embrace self-love as a critical component of a healthy relationship with yourself.
I often coach people on this topic as many of my clients tend to be givers. And when you are a ‘giver’ you tend to give to others and rarely to yourself. So the concept of self-love becomes difficult for them, yet, the four points that I am going to cover is going to make it easier for even the most giving of givers to change their relationship with self-love.
So let’s dig into it.
The first one, of course, is: Self-love is not selfish.
When you are prioritizing yourself to be of importance, to love yourself as you love someone else, therefore you are doing something that is healthy for you to be able to provide your best in this life.
Here’s what I mean by that. You are no good to yourself if you are helping everyone else. You’re making sure that everything is taken care of for everyone else and everything for you is in disarray.
How can you then progress yourself or anyone else forward if you can’t take care of yourself?
You see, the concept of being selfish has construed the way that we think about self-love/self-care and the way that reflects on others. I can’t be a great parent if I don’t take care of myself and learn how to best parent my children. I cannot be an awesome husband unless I figure out how to best love myself so I know how to love my wife.
I can’t do anything in this world well unless I understand my self first.
Look, relationships are hard. They’re hard for various reasons. Communication, understanding, empathy, so on and so forth, right? But there is a relationship with one’s self that we have to have an understanding of. We must learn how to communicate with ourselves meaning understanding our inner workings. Because until we do so, we cannot expect other people to understand us.
If I don’t do the introspective exercises to really dig in deep to who I am (good, bad or indifferent), then I can’t reflect back on someone else how I want to be best-loved, for example. So this why self-love is not selfish.
Self-love enables you to love others.
In order for me to love you, I need to first understand how I love myself. So then I understand what love really looks like and then I can reflect that back to you genuine love. Without this, we are all faced with challenging relationships because we do not understand how we should receive love and therefore we accept anything that may resemble love.
One of the most rewarding experiences of developing self-love is asking yourself what love really means. Through those answers, you have the standard of what it means to express and receive love.
This opens up the opportunity and realization that if you asked yourself, therefore, you should probably ask others what love really means to them. This allows you to understand if you can or are willing to meet that standard of their definition of love.
You see there are too many assumptions that occur in relationships. We are literally in a relationship with ourselves and certainly with others. Until we are able to have the conversation, with self and with others, then we can’t demystify these assumptions that we have about ourselves and each other.
If I do this exercise, if I do the work to understand yourself and have a love of yourself, then you can have a better relation of that love to others. I can know how to better love someone else.
This is why self-love is not selfish.
Alright, number three: Self-love means you put yourself as a priority.
Moms…[really this is for any parent] You can’t be great moms if you are not putting yourself as a priority. Now, that doesn’t mean that every single day that you neglect your children so that you could put yourself as a priority. What this means is that as a mom, you need your time. You need your ‘me’ time. This is time away from the kids and from your spouse / significant other.
You need your ‘me’ time so you can sit back and rest and reflect. I introduced the concept of Rest+Reflection in my previous video, Combating Comfort and Challenge. For this to be effective, you need to have your periods of rest and reflection built into your schedule.
I know things are going a hundred miles per hour.
I know there’s a lot on your plate.
But unless you put in your periods of rest and reflection, then you’re going to run yourself ragged. You’re going to lose your self-identity. And certainly if you lose your self-identity, you don’t know how to love yourself and all the other things that I said earlier still apply.
Self-love means that you got to put yourself as a priority.
That means it is on the calendar. There’s no other way that I know how to think about this. Things will always come up where you are tempted to put yourself on the backburner. You must stay committed to the practices that are healthy for you and support your wellbeing. That means you must schedule on your calendar your periods of rest and reflection.
I don’t know what that would look like for you. It may be a ‘staycation’ that you have every couple of months. It might mean every two weeks you have a movie night or our book that you read in a bathtub full of water and candles. Self-love means that you put yourself as a priority.
And the last one: self-love establishes healthy relationships.
If you don’t know how to love yourself, again, you cannot love someone else.
And I don’t mean romantic relationship perse. I’m also talking about platonic relationships. How are you truly going to love your best friend? If you don’t have a true understanding of love for yourself your relationship is going to be shortsighted somewhere. You are not going to give your best nor are you going to be able to receive your best because you don’t have an understanding of what your best for yourself is because you have not prioritized self-love.
So healthy relationships enable you to love others better.
Self-love is certainly not selfish and love means that you put yourself as a priority.
It’s critically important that we take this and really understand it. We need to move from the space of this simplistic understanding of selfishness and move to a more complex appreciation for what self-love really means.
So if I put anything into practice today, I suggest that you make yourself a priority.