When we think of love and giving love, we often focus on other people; we think about how we can give more love to our romantic partners, family members, friends, neighbors and so on. Working in the wellness industry has shown me how selfless and generous my patients are, but also how stressed out and run down they can become from giving too much. While we should try to live our lives in service of helping the world and those we love, we cannot forget to fill our own cup first.
"You cannot pour from an empty cup."
Giving love and service to the point where you are not fulfilling your own basic needs or restoring your well-being, will lead to burnout and maybe even resentment of your service or your love. The phrase, “You cannot pour from an empty cup” means that you cannot show up for your loved ones or the world as your best self if you do not take care of yourself. Self-love may sound cheesy or overused, but it is essential to your health and to your mindset. Read below to learn about 3 Principles of Self-Love and why you should incorporate them into your daily life.
1.) Forgiveness (of others and yourself)
Forgiveness is one of the most important, yet challenging principles of self-love. Forgiving others involves a certain level of patience, perseverance, and love of self. While many of us have been hurt or harmed deeply by the actions of others, we must learn how to heal and let go for our own sake. Forgiving someone is not about the other person. Forgiving someone also doesn't mean you forget what happened, you trust that person again, you condone their actions, or you even you let them back into your life. Forgiving someone else has everything to do with you and your work of processing and moving forward. You may or may not get an apology, or the one you deserve. You may or may not receive justice for the betrayal, abuse, or wrongdoings. However, you will receive the feelings of freedom that come with the release of forgiving others or yourself.
Sometimes it can feel even harder to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes, wrongdoings, or perceived flaws. You can always work on making things right and holding yourself accountable, but don’t be too hard on yourself for being human. Move forward with a deeper understanding of why you acted out or why you feel shameful. Encourage yourself to improve without using harmful self-talk or destructive behaviors. Forgiveness is a powerful principle that allows you to release feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, distrust, vengeance, and even trauma lingering in your heart or body.
Forgiveness involves a conscious decision to let go for your own well-being and to take action steps to do so. Some of these action steps involve the following:
Setting intentions: consciously decide to forgive others and yourself.
Practicing Empathy: try to understand why you or someone else did what they did. Hurt people hurt others. Get to the root of your own feelings and actions, process them, and decide to move forward with an open and understanding heart.
Highlighting silver linings or lessons: instead of thinking of the controversial phrase, “Everything happens for a reason” try to think, “Even though this happened, I can still learn and grow." Ask yourself, "How can I help myself or someone else who might have experienced something similar? How can I find goodness from this situation?”
2.) Kindness (in Self-Talk)
How are you speaking to yourself? Are you saying words that are uplifting, encouraging, and kind or are you ragging on yourself all of the time? Self-love means giving love to yourself in the form of internal kindness. No one is perfect and we all have our shortcomings, but only focusing on those shortcomings does not inspire you to take action or make changes. When you are trying to make a change, reach a goal, or love yourself more, positive self-talk will get you to your results or desired outcomes much more quickly and sustainably than discouraging reminders or self-talk. When you speak to yourself with self-hatred or self-doubt using phrases like, “I’m not good enough,” “I always screw up,” “If I only had what they had I’d be happier,”“I look awful because ____,” then you are only digging yourself into a deeper hole of insecurity and self-doubt.
To start the practice of speaking kindly to yourself, you can do the following:
Start surrounding yourself with more people who speak kindly about themselves and others.
Practice positive affirmations that you believe in. Do this out loud, in your head, or both daily.
Write down a list of 3 different things you love about yourself every day for a week. You should have a total of 21 different traits you love about yourself by the end of the week. Read them after this week is up when you feel you are doubting yourself or are speaking unkindly to yourself.
3.) Quality Time (with an emphasis on self-care)
Too often we spend the majority of our time thinking about others' opinions, needs, and desires. How often do you sit with yourself alone and just think about your own opinions, needs, thoughts, and feelings? Regardless of whether or not you are an extrovert or introvert, you need to take time for yourself to fulfill your mental and physical health needs. While it can be motivating and fun to do self-care activities with someone else or a group of friends, make sure you allocate time to do these activities alone at least every once in a while (activities can include working out, meditating, cooking, eating, reading, listening to music/a podcast, doing a face mask, etc. BY YOURSELF). Learn how to be your own best friend and enjoy your own company so that you can restore your feelings of self-love without excessive external influence or dependency. That being said, you can call on professional help to jumpstart your self-care and designate your quality time. Sometimes scheduling time to take part in self-care activities will help you restore your mental and physical health with more ease and accountability.
"Learn how to be your own best friend..."
Here are some more healthy self-care activities or services you can do to spend quality time with yourself:
Remember that self-care is not selfish; it is essential to overall health and to your ability to show up fully in this world. During this coming month of love, and continuing on, practice showing yourself some love while you show others how much you care for them. Realize that you have the ability and the responsibility to give yourself lots of love. Know that you deserve to feel good and be at peace.