Words by Caitriona Potter

Valentine’s Day embraces the joy of romantic love but let it be a reminder to celebrate yourself too. The longest and most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves, which simultaneously impacts all other aspects of our outer lives. Nurtured, nourished people who practice self love are in harmony with themselves and their environment. It is a lifelong journey, but certainly one worth pursuing. Here are 5 ways to practise self-love, today.

Recognise that ‘self- love’ is an active verb, not a passive state. 

Different periods in your life will call for different needs to be met, and it is intrinsic to our wellbeing to identify and meet these. We all have a range of core needs, such as the need to feel seen, heard, valued, and respected. The foundation of self esteem and self-love is built from meeting these core needs on a regular basis. It is then that we can begin to show up deeply for others, and allow others to meet us deeply, too.

Self-love is paramount, but social connection is valuable.

Self-love is paramount to healthy self esteem and wellbeing, but we cannot overlook our innate need for social connection in our lives, either. A healthy practice in self-love is learning to identify if, and where, we are holding ourselves back from true connection. Fear of rejection, intimacy and/or vulnerability are common ways we sabotage healthy connections, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if left unchecked. True self-love means working on these beliefs over time, healing the core wounds, and allowing ourselves to be met by others. This not only enhances your confidence and inner peace but your relationships too, as you will begin to meet others from a stable position rather than from fear and scarcity. 

Learn to accept unknown and uncomfortable feelings.

Self- love is the act of developing the awareness, strength, and the tools to tame our internal storms without allowing ourselves to descend into emotional chaos when uncomfortable feelings arise. A dysregulated nervous system is always on the lookout for danger, which can be exhausting. Learning to soften these emotional pulls on our own is the greatest sign of love for ourselves. 

Begin taking responsibility for how you feel and how you show up in the world. 

It is not your ‘fault’ if you feel low or unhappy, but understand it is within your power to improve any aspect of your life, should you want to. Do not underestimate your ability to greatly improve your internal experience with sustained gentleness, consistency, and effort; it is all an internal experience, after all. 

Allow yourself to embrace feelings of joy. 

Finally, simply allow yourself to bask in the energies of joy and happiness when they arise. Give yourself permission to process the good feelings in your life as much as you would the bad. Internalise compliments and kindness from others. Self-love does not always have to be an enormous pursuit; it can be as simple as soaking in the goodness around you. Believe you are worthy of this lightness of spirit.