Self-love can make or break your Valentine’s Day whether you’re single or in a relationship. When I didn’t truly love myself (sometimes I still struggle with this), I always felt like the things boyfriends did to show their love for me fell short, or the happiness that their show of love brought would pass quickly. Part of the problem was that because I did not authentically love myself, I was looking for the people I dated to fill a void that only I could fill. If you are in a relationship this Valentine’s Day, you may be focusing on what your partner is going to do for you and if you’re single you may spend the time feeling down and complaining about potential partners. This year I charge you to do something different. I encourage you to reflect on how well you are loving yourself and to take some intentional steps to indulge in self-love on Valentine’s Day.
To start, answer the following questions; if you answer is no to multiple questions you may need to work on your self-love.
- Are you gentle and patient with yourself when you are down or disappointed?
- Do you take time out of your busy schedule for self-care?
- Do you make sure that you are well-nourished with healthy food?
- Do you make sure you are getting enough rest?
- Do you make time to do things that you enjoy?
- Do you indulge your desires periodically?
What gets in the way of us loving ourselves?
As black women, we are constantly receiving negative messages about ourselves. News, social media, and sometimes friends, partners, and family members offer frequent critiques about black women being too angry, too independent, too aggressive, too provocative, etc. All of these messages can take a toll on how we view ourselves.
Another thing that gets in the way of self-love is being overly self-critical. Often, when we make a mistake or are feeling particularly low, our negative voice gets loud and starts reminding us of failures and making negative predictions about the future. Further, Valentine’s Day can cause us to feel shame about being single and past relationships that did not work out.
Self-love is also inhibited by a lack of self-care. As black women we are socialized to put the needs of others (partners, friends, family members) before our own. Selflessness can be a great thing but not taking time to care for yourself is a sign that you need to show more love to yourself.
Strategies for Self-Love
- Be gentle with yourself. Instead of giving in to negative self-criticism, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. If you are feeling upset see if you can respond to yourself as you might respond to a friend or a child if they came to you for comfort. Don’t over analyze disappointments or get caught up in self-blame. Instead see if you can bear witness to your experience and comfort yourself.
- Take care of yourself – Prioritize self-care (i.e. eating healthy food, sleeping, exercise, rest, and relaxation).
- Make time for fun – set time aside every week (or at least every month) to do something that you truly enjoy; this might be an activity with friends, a partner, family member, or by yourself.
- Identify an indulgence that you can treat yourself to periodically.