Love is a powerful emotion. It is the precursor to the highest-highs and the lowest-lows. Our connection to others is what feeds our souls, pushes us to be more and challenges us to grow or, at times, to remain stagnant.
Love for others is what we spend most of our time on. We take time to mend relationships, to pick up the phone, to send messages, to make dates, to support and build each other up. We show up places to offer a helping hand, we make sacrifices and compromises to please and keep the peace, we try new things and trust that the other person(s) has your best interests at heart as well.
In the book, How to Love Thich Nhat Hanh says,
"To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love."
And to learn how to love, you must start with YOURSELF. To embrace, love unconditionally, forgive, challenge, grow, and understand yourself.
We all could benefit from a little more self-love on a daily basis. If you were to spend as much time on loving yourself as you do on building and maintaining love for others, the love you are capable of feeling, giving, and receiving would expand exponentially. Hanh says,
"When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person."
So how can you practice and strengthen your self-love?
1) Research "Self-Love" for 20 minutes and take notes on what comes up for you. Fill a few pages in a notebook you keep close to you, and reflect on the notes and ideas daily, adding when new ideas, quotes, or activities come into your attention. Reflect on these notes daily and watch as your mind begins to activate self-love reminders when you need it most.
2) Create a self-love mantra that you repeat every morning. Start your day with some self-love and set the intention to keep coming back to that mantra throughout your day.
3) Be kind and forgiving of yourself. What are you holding on to that does not serve you? What judgements, beliefs, ideas do you hold on to that fuel negative self-talk? Change your thoughts, forgive yourself, remind yourself what is unique and awesome about you.
4) Fuel your mind and body. What you eat, who you hang out with, what books you read, what websites you frequent, how often you sweat, how much sleep you get, etc. These all play into your perception of self. Check-in. What changes do you need to make to allow yourself to be set up for self-love success? You can't control a lot of what happens around you, but you can control your reactions, your thoughts, your judgements, your subsequent actions, and the story you tell yourself.
"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love."
There are hundreds of blogs, articles, news reports, research, lists, and tricks available to develop tools, habits, and reminders for implementing more self-love into your daily activities. Take the time to build this as a strength, the same way you would put time in to develop any other attribute. How you spend your time, is how you spend your life. What are you waiting for?