Written By: Cassandra Petrella, M.A., CCC, Psychotherapist with Capital Choice Counselling Group
Most people don’t realize that we need to learn how to love ourselves. Self-love is something we must teach ourselves in order to grow. One of the main reasons why we must teach ourselves is that as little girls and boys our caregivers rarely told us “be kind to yourself”, “be proud of who you are” and “love your self”. Instead, we are often told “congratulate Suzy” or “be nice to Timmy”. Also, we are socialized from a young age to believe that speaking well about ourselves is narcissistic or vain. In our western culture it is more virtuous to put others first and to be self-less. Yes, these are important qualities to possess, but they shouldn’t negate the fact that it is also important to spend attention and care for yourself as well. Myself, growing up in a home greatly influenced by Italian culture which traditionally involves a mother staying at home to care for the family needs, I was rarely taught to focus on myself. Instead I was taught that the needs of the family should come first. Then, if there’s time, you can think a bit about yourself! Imagine my surprise when I first starting to learn about self-love! I thought, “why didn’t anyone tell me this?”. So now, I am sharing my learned knowledge of self-love with you as I believe maybe people grew up in a similar way as I did, one in which no one talks about self-love!
So if there is a good chance that we didn’t learn about self-love growing up then how do we make this a part of our lives now?
Well there are three components of self-love that I believe we need to learn about and then practice: worthiness, acts of kindness and unconditional love.
1) Worthiness: As human beings we are all worthy of happiness in life. We are all equal. We must validate for ourselves that we deserve to have our hopes and dreams come true. That we deserve to have healthy happy relationships and success in our endeavours.
2) Acts of Kindness: We must treat ourselves kindly each day. Taking times for breaks, exercise and to pay attention to our own needs when necessary. We must listen to our intuition about what we need and commit to doing things simply for us.
3) Unconditional Love: Liking the person we are and the qualities we possess regardless of the choices we make or the circumstances we experience. Being supportive of our own choices and realizing that mistakes are a part of life’s process. Making sure to be gentle on ourselves when we are struggling and being compassionate with ourselves when we are hurting.
As with learning any new habit, we must practice self-love each day before it becomes a natural part of our lives. Take a pause each day to think about something that you are proud of within yourself, take a look in the mirror see yourself more compassionately, take that night off to take a long warm bath without feeling guilty, or go for a long walk when you feel you need some space. Start listening more to your needs and taking pauses throughout each day to focus on incorporating the three fundamental components above into your thought process.
To read more about self-love, I recommend the article A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love by Deborah Khoshaba.
Wishing you peace, love and calm as your journey towards a life with self-love.
Written by Cassandra Petrella M.A., C.C.C., Psychotherapist for Capital Choice Counselling Group.