You probably already know that February 14 is Saint Valentine’s Day – a holiday that’s often associated with appreciating our romantic partners and friends. You may not have heard that the day before Valentine’s Day – February 13th – is celebrated as International Self-Love Day.

This is a day to foster more appreciation for ourselves – which we, at MINES & Associates, think is just as important (if not more so!).

Today, we’ll be giving you 5 easy steps you can use to cultivate more self-love and remember that you are a worthy human being who deserves appreciation.

Intentionally remember strengths

No one is perfect. But when you’re in love, you’re probably not focusing on the other person’s weaknesses and flaws – although they’re there. As they say, “Love is blind,” which usually means that we end up focusing more on the person’s strengths.

You can practice this with yourself as well. Does this mean that you turn a blind eye to all of your faults and mistakes? Absolutely not. It’s important to take personal responsibility, especially when you’ve hurt others.

But you can make an effort to intentionally notice and pay attention to your strengths, just like you may do at the beginning of a new relationship or friendship. It may be helpful to keep a written list – at the end of each day, write down things that you like about yourself or that make you feel proud.

Focus on efforts and intentions, and be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying, “I’m a nice person,” you might say, “I called my brother today, even though I was busy, because I know he’s going through a tough time. I like that I am a loving person who makes an effort to be there for others.”

Be careful of who you’re spending time with

Look around you, and take note of the people you spend the most time with. How are these relationships? How do you tend to feel after you’ve spent time with these people? Do you leave these meetings feeling rejuvenated and good about yourself, or depleted and insecure?

The people you spend time with can make a big impact on your life. Although it’s possible, it can make it more difficult to practice self-love when someone in your life is constantly bringing you down.

Work to heal toxic relationships, and don’t be afraid of letting them go if you need to. If the person is important to you, you can practice assertive communication skills to let them know how you feel. For example, you might say something like, “I feel very hurt when you constantly criticize me. I’m asking you to stop. If it continues, then we will have to discuss this relationship.”

Practice self-compassion

Researcher Kristin Neff has described 3 facets of self-compassion, which are:

    1. Self-kindness vs. self-judgment

    1. Common humanity vs. isolation

    1. Mindfulness vs. over-identification

Self-compassion becomes especially important when you’ve made a mistake or “failed” in some way. We tend to be our own biggest critics. Especially after a mistake, you might talk to yourself in ways that you wouldn’t dream of talking to others, and especially not your closest friends.

Instead, be compassionate with yourself. First, speak to yourself with kindness – as you would a close friend. After making a mistake, you can say something like: “I’m imperfect, and I made a mistake. That doesn’t feel good, and I will make amends. But it also doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible person. I’m doing my best, and now that I know better, I’ll do better.”

It’s also important to connect to shared humanity – in other words, realize that every experience you go through isn’t something you go through alone, but rather something that all humans share. You might say something like, “I’m not the only one who has made a mistake, and I certainly won’t be the last. Everyone has felt bad about themselves at some point.”

Lastly, practice mindfulness over your thoughts and feelings. Don’t get over-attached to them. Observe, without judgment, that you’re feeling bad or guilty – don’t take those feelings on as part of your identity. Mindfulness is the difference between “I failed at this task,” and “I’m a failure.”

Don’t compare yourself to others

One thing that stands in the way of self-love for many of us is constantly comparing ourselves to other people. In today’s social media age, it’s hard not to – we see the highlight reels of others’ lives, and can’t help but feel like we’re lacking in comparison.

But always comparing yourself to others will eventually start chipping away at your sense of self-worth.

If you’re a heavy social media user, you may want to rethink the relationship you have with these platforms. Research has found some possible links between social media and self-esteem. One study found that nearly 90% of people compare themselves to others on social media, and almost everyone in that 90% made upward comparisons (in other words, comparing themselves to others and coming up short).

That doesn’t mean it’s necessary to delete social media in order to practice self-love, but if you walk away from scrolling sessions feeling negative about yourself, then this may be a sign that you need a break.

Go to counseling

Seeing a therapist or a counselor can help you nurture more self-love. A qualified therapist can provide you a safe space in which to explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and gain more self-awareness and insight. Self-awareness is often the first step to deeper self-love. With self-awareness, you can also explore barriers that may have held you back from self-love before.

A therapist can also keep you accountable to self-care practices. It’s difficult to truly love yourself when you don’t get enough sleep, engage in negative self-talk, and more. Talking with a therapist can help you set goals for how you want to treat yourself and help you remember why these goals are important.

You can always reach out to MINES, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  MINES & Associates provides free and confidential counseling, and our licensed counselors are available 24/7. We are happy to support you in your journey toward self-love, not only on February 13th but every day.

To Your Wellbeing,

The MINES Team