Learning to Love Thyself  (2 min read)

With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, love is in the air, but instead of focusing merely on romantic love, it’s important to consider the love that we have for ourselves (self-love!).

So many of us are conditioned to think that we need to have the love of a romantic partner before we can feel “whole” or “complete” in ourselves. Perhaps, by seeking the love of another person, we’re striving consciously or unconsciously to make up for old childhood wounds (having felt that we didn’t receive enough love from a parent or key caretaker while growing up), or perhaps we’re simply accustomed to thinking (based on messages that we receive from society) that if we’re single, it means there’s something wrong with us.

Whatever the reason, it’s crucial for us to give up the notion that we’re incomplete or unworthy without the validation of having a romantic partner. We are, in fact, more complete if we honour our uniqueness and live by our values while flying solo than if we blindly sacrifice and give up important parts of who we are for the sake of another person. The latter scenario will only result in further loss of self, an overall sense of dissatisfaction, or possibly even a full-blown identity crisis.

This February (during heart month), I encourage you to honour yourself with love and validation by taking the following steps:

1 | Take a few minutes each day and sit quietly with yourself

2 | Reflect on your personal values, strengths, and interests (ask: what really sets you apart from others?)

3 | Visualize the things you would like to do & how you want to be according to what you identified in step 2 (focusing on what you feel is right for yourself, not how others want you to be)

4 | Imagine yourself filled with love, self-compassion, and feelings of peace while doing so

5 | Chose at least one concrete step you can take that will help translate your vision into actions every day for the whole month

Although we may feel selfish taking this time for ourselves, it is possibly one of the best investments we can make. When we experience self-love, not only do we feel refreshed, inspired, creative, and more confident in who we are, but the people around us pick up on it too. Our family and friends will often feel more love and warmth simply by being in our presence. Ironically, by better taking care of ourselves (in celebrating who we are), we’re actually taking better care of those around us, and we can act as a role model for others in the process.

If we can build and grow our self-love, we will also begin attracting more like-minded people into our lives (because we’ll be in greater touch with what we believe in). When we become more authentically connected to others in this way, we begin decreasing any feelings of loneliness or isolation that we may experience. When we gain feelings of belonging, this helps cultivate loving feelings in general, which can help make our self-love and self-compassion grow even more!

The key is in engaging in this exercise on a regular basis and making it a part of our daily routine. The more we practice self-love, the deeper our love will go, and the more “whole” we will feel in ourselves. This is what creates the most solid foundation for our relationships – whether it be with ourselves, a current partner, or with someone who we can look forward to meeting down the road!

Counseling, Mental health


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