Let’s Not Forgot About Self-Love

Valentine’s Day prompts us to focus on our significant others and best friends. But we forget that we need to love ourselves, too.

I hear from therapists, “Treat yourself as kindly as you would treat a best friend,” but what does that look like? Do I surprise myself with gifts? Hug myself? Take myself out to dinner? That’s not what it means. What matters is loving myself despite my flaws, just the way I love others with their flaws.

Studies have shown that practicing self-compassion helps people adopt healthier behavior. Self-compassionate people tend to feel greater happiness and motivation and maintain better physical health and stronger relationships. They suffer less depression and anxiety.

Even with the evidence that self-compassion is good for us, though, people resist it. I resist it, too, because it feels selfish to focus on myself first rather than others.

Teachers tell me it is okay to focus on my mental health, but if I take a day off from school for that reason, I end up falling behind and then I’m called irresponsible. And as for friends, they consider me rude for “ignoring” them when I decide to take some alone time rather than to go out with them.

Lots of experts and artists have explored this issue. University of Texas professor Kristen Neff studies human development and wrote the book, The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. She wrote that self-compassion doesn’t come naturally to everyone and often requires practice.

Self-compassion is what American singer and actress Whitney Houston wrote about in her hit song “Greatest Love of All”. She praised the beauty people have inside them, and sang, “Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.”

Let’s be kind to ourselves not only on Valentine’s Day, not only on our birthdays, but every day.