Valentine’s Day: the international day of love where half the population feels smug (as cards pour through their door and red roses take root in their homes) and the other half feels pretty awful.
It’s all very well deciding that the antidote to Valentine’s Day misery is loving yourself more. Or indeed, that holding a ‘Galentine’s Day’ on the 13th, which is all about getting together and celebrating your friends, is the key.
But it’s not that easy. We’re much kinder to others than we are to ourselves; if your loved one piled on a couple of pounds you might notice, but you’d probably (we hope!) not beat them up about it.
If your friend was short-tempered and grouchy because life’s pressures were getting on top of them, you’d probably put an arm around their shoulders and offer some much-needed sympathy. But if it’s you that’s indulged in a little over-eating, or it’s you who can’t seem to start the school run without turning into a screaming banshee, the odds are you’re less forgiving.
Would you tell your friend they looked ‘disgusting’ in their jeans because their muffin top was evident when they sat down? Would you call your pal a ‘terrible mother’ because she lost it the 10th time she asked her kids to put their shoes on? Of course you wouldn’t.
So why do we do it to ourselves?
The truth is this, we’re all pretty wonderful in our own ways. Yes, we might not look exactly like we’d want to, and yes we’re not always cool, calm and collected. But every day each and every one of us does good things, is kind, is thoughtful, puts others first. And, it’s time we started realising how blooming brilliant we actually are.
1. Practice praising yourself:
We all know practice makes perfect, and learning to see the good in yourself is something that gets easier the more you do it. Make a commitment to spend a moment each day in front of the mirror focussing on the things you LIKE. Say it out loud, or just in your head, but say it. Imagine it’s your best friend looking back at you and say the things you’d say to her. “You look great,” or “That top really suits you,” or “You don’t look like you’ve spent the morning running around after the kids.”
2. Write yourself a love letter:
Every night before bed, grab a note pad and scribble down a couple of things you love about yourself. The day might not have been perfect, but there will be one or two things you did that even you can’t deny were good. Were you patient, kind, thoughtful, caring? Write them down so you start seeing the good in yourself as well as the good in others.
3. Create some distance:
There are people in all of our lives that bring us down. That bring out the worst in us or make us feel inferior. The truth is you don’t HAVE to have these people in your life – or at the very least you can minimise your exposure to them. First of all, identify who falls into this category. Then focus on replacing time usually spend with them, with the people who bring out the best in you.
4. Recognise it’s okay to fail:
If you feel like a bit of a failure, you’ll stop trying, but it’s so important to keep challenging ourselves. Failure is fine – and it’s important to know that. It’s the effort that’s important, and to remember we learn from failure too. So whether you’re fearful of making the wrong decision, or making a public fool of yourself, resolve to overcome that fear. Set yourself small tasks and dare to do them. Then grow to the bigger ones. The happiness you gain from daring do something new outweighs the negative emotions of failure, so it’s worth the risk.
5. Eliminate self-criticism:
There are enough people in the world to put us down – we don’t need to be one of them. Every time you hear that little niggly voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough, notice. Write it down. Noticing you do it is the first step. Then, days later, check out those criticisms and rationally appraise them. Yes, you might have screamed at the kids, but surely all the loving things you did that day were more important. Sure, you might have eaten a cupcake, but you’ve resolved not to do so again this week, so don’t make a big deal out of it.
6. Make time for happiness daily:
This is key, and it is not self-indulgence. The people who count on you for their own happiness, need you to be happy yourself. Whether it’s exercise, walks in nature, a great TV show or lunch with friends, it’s as important to schedule these things into your day as the selfless tasks that keep everyone else’s life ticking over just so.
7. Date yourself:
Loving yourself is the first step towards finding someone who will love you – and whether it’s a new relationship you’re looking for, or you’re already in a 20-year-long marriage, if you don’t think you’re much fun to be around, odds are other people won’t think so either. Take time to get to know yourself. To remember what makes you tick, what makes you happy and who you really are. Take yourself out for lunch, go and see that new release movie you really fancy. Enjoy your own company and the results will be great.
Did you enjoy this? Here’s why making me time is so essential, especially if you’re a parent. This is how to love your body, without hating your exercise routine and this is why Mary Berry loves herself, and especially her wrinkles.