Me, Myself and I
We can work so hard to show those around us that we care we often neglect the person we spend the most time with — ourselves.
If you’ve ever taken a trip on a plane, you’ve heard that in the event of an emergency, when the oxygen masks come down, you must take care of yourself before you take care of someone else. Why? The answer is simple and obvious: To give others the much-needed, life-giving oxygen they need, you first need to have plenty of that oxygen for yourself. Otherwise, you won’t be able to function well enough to help anyone else.
This concept is as true of love as it is anything. You’re much more capable of loving others when you first love yourself.
Yet it’s pretty safe to say the person in your life most likely to miss out on your love would be yourself. We can work so hard to show those around us that we care that we often neglect the person we spend the most time with — ourselves.
For many of us, the idea of self-love can feel foreign. We’ve figured out ways to show our special, significant other that we care by showering them with gifts, time, affection, words of encouragement, and so on, but we rarely do that for ourselves. The problem isn’t that we don’t actually love ourselves as much as it is we haven’t practiced caring for ourselves as much as we could.
So, to help you show yourself the self-care that energizes you and makes all your relationships better, here are a few ways you can show love to yourself this month and throughout the year.
Make yourself a priority
If you ignore your own needs all the time while selflessly taking care of others, you’ll end up resenting it. Believe it or not, the person you’ll hold the biggest grudge against will be yourself. None of this sounds like a recipe for happiness, does it? Self-love and self-care don’t happen by accident. You have to set aside time to meet your basic needs, or there won’t be much left of you to give to anybody else. Schedule time right now to do the things that make you happy, then fit time in for all the other people in your life you care about. It really does work better that way.
Count the ways
At some point, hopefully recently, you’ve probably listed all the reasons you fell in love with your significant other. You likely included many of those traits in their birthday card or last month’s Valentine’s Day card. But when’s the last time you’ve done the same for yourself? List all your best qualities, and don’t be afraid to brag on yourself. When you’re in touch with all the reasons why others should fall in love with you, you’re much more confident and happy.
Take the time to notice your successes
If you’re like most people, you’re your worst critic. If all you do is remind yourself of how you have failed, that’s all you’ll ever focus on. Sadly, if all you focus on is failure, that’s what you’ll get more of in life. Thankfully, it works the other way too. If you take time to compliment yourself when you succeed at any little thing, you’ll be looking for more ways to succeed. You’ll start seeing all the ways you’ve succeeded, and it will breed more success. It’s a natural phenomenon. Try it. Plus, giving yourself compliments makes you smile more.
This doesn’t have to include yoga (not that it would hurt). Practicing mindfulness is also not some mystical Eastern religion kind of thing. Mindfulness is about stopping for long enough to tell yourself that you care how you feel. It’s much the same as letting your loved one know you care about their feelings. They appreciate it when you stop and ask, “How are you feeling?” When’s the last time you asked yourself what you wanted, or how you felt about something? What you think, want and feel are important. When you’re mindful of these things, you make better choices. That’s good self-care and wonderful self-love.
Take time to read
Sometimes, all we really need to do to feel refreshed and loved is to escape. Vacations are excellent ways to do that. However, reading a book can take you to those same faraway landscapes without ever having to spend a dime on airfare, fancy restaurants, and exotic hotels. Read the books you’ve been putting off. Indulge yourself by taking the whole day to read. Who knows where it will lead?
You love it when your boss goes to bat for you and gets you that end-of-year bonus for accomplishing all your yearly expectations, or when your partner rewards you after you’ve done something for them. Why not take the time to reward yourself when you know you’ve been doing exceptionally well? After all, you should know when you’ve been hitting it out of the park. And who better than you to choose your reward? If you’ve been kicking tail in the gym, reward yourself. Say yes, this time, to a reasonably-sized dessert. You deserve it, and you know it.
Stay relationship safe
Having the right people in your life is always the key to staying emotionally healthy. Sadly, we hold on way too long to relationships that do nothing more than suck the life out of us. Life is too short to spend time with those who don’t appreciate you and your values. Love yourself and let go of the frenemies in your life. It’s this kind of respect for yourself that will make your heart soar.
Forgive others. Much of the time, forgiveness is more for the one extending it than the one receiving it. Life isn’t as joyful when you keep a long list of the ways you’ve been wronged. Let it go, and you’ll find that the burden you’ve been carrying just hasn’t been worth it. While you’re at it, forgive yourself too. It’s the greatest form of forgiveness and probably the least given.
Try something new
As in every good relationship, having fun while trying new activities keeps things fresh and exciting. Discovering new situations will help you see yourself in a different way, giving you a new appreciation of who you are and what you’re capable of. Who knows? You may enjoy the new you, and others who appreciate you will too.
Stick to your guns
Stay true to yourself and create boundaries that serve your best interests. Then, stick to them. You’re being loving to yourself when you respect the limits in all the important areas of your life. In work, in love, and in all your activities, communicate with yourself and those around you what you are willing and able to do. Too often, we allow these things to completely deplete us physically, emotionally and mentally. Stick to your guns and you’ll feel more refreshed more often, loving yourself while enjoying every moment of your daily life.
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