It’s February and all that it reminds us of first is obviously Valentine’s Day. Getting through another year as a single person while watching your Instagram feed full of lovey-dovey couple pics, red roses, chocolates and love notes that express how one person filled the other’s life with love makes you wish you had a ‘person’ too. Well, you do. You have ‘YOU’!
Buddha once said, ‘You yourself, as much as anybody else in the universe, deserve your love and affection.’ The idea of two people being in love and supporting each other has long been there in our society. Love and more importantly marriage, have been considered of the utmost value for every person. And that’s how we grow up; watching rom-coms with happy endings and humming love songs. At some point, we begin to crave it. We think our life is incomplete without it. As social beings, we do need affection as much as air and water. But what is easily mistaken by us is the kind of love. Modern society is gradually emphasizing the idea of ‘self-love’-the regard for one’s self, put simply. It’s easy to confuse the term with vanity; so much so we never practice it. Very early in our lives, we are exposed to competition and the urge to outperform. Instead of focusing on our abilities, we are scrutinized for our deficits. And slowly we come to hate ourselves for what we’re not. As a person filled with so much hate, how is it possible to love someone else?
Our beloved Mr. Anderson rightly said, ‘We accept the love we think we deserve.’ While it helps us look further within ourselves, self-love makes you realize that you deserve love in the right manner. More often we are engaged in toxic relationships just to feel complete. When you know your worth, you don’t settle for less. Self-love teaches you that support need not always come from an external source and you yourself are responsible for your happiness.
This thought empowers you to make better choices in life. Realizing what assets you have imparts strength and you begin to feel important. It helps with anxiety and it doesn’t matter who the other person in the room is. You compete against yourself to improve. Besides improving mental health, it reduces stress and complements your body. Now you don’t depend on others for happiness. You become your own person.
HOW TO PRACTICE IT?
COMPARISON: The grass on the other side of the fence is always greener. No matter how hard you try, somebody is always going to be better than you are. But that doesn’t mean you are lacking. Not everybody can make people laugh or make art or write beautiful stories. If you can, you must cherish yourself for that.
MISTAKES = LEARNING: Don’t bother stressing yourself over trivial mistakes. We don’t do that here! Making mistakes is proof that you’re trying to improve. Tell yourself it’s completely fine to make mistakes because that’s how you learn.
BE STRONG, BE KIND, BE YOU: This trio is the most important one. Self-love revolves around the acceptance of oneself and when you do that, there is nothing the world can throw at you. To be strong, you must learn to stand up for yourself. Don’t let people look down on you. Accept your faults but don’t forget to defend yourself, when necessary. Be kind to others and yourself. Compliment the landlady, help the old man with the crossing. Start the morning with a positive note. Look at yourself in the mirror and give the sweetest smile. Talk to yourself with love.
SET REALISTIC GOALS: Don’t overexert yourself over tasks. Learn to take it slow and strategically. You won’t be able to memorize the whole topic in a single read, so make plans accordingly.
ACKNOWLEDGE & REWARD: When you finish a task, don’t forget to reward yourself. It could be anything that gives you joy- a little treat, shopping, gaming, taking some time off, etc.
BODY POSITIVITY: In a world obsessed with glamor and skinny figures, own yourself. It is this body that houses your conscience and is your vehicle. It works day and night for you and you alone and deserves the right care. Exercise, eat healthily, meditate, laugh, and enjoy life.
SAY NO TO TOXICITY: You don’t have to think twice before cutting off toxic people. Those who judge you without knowing you, those who pass unruly comments, those who never acknowledge your efforts do not deserve access to your life. Don’t let your mental health suffer because of such things.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: Life is full of ups and downs and you have managed to come this far; you are a winner, not a quitter. You have experience and you can deal with setbacks wisely. Participate in meetings, classes, discussions- participate in life. It won’t always be a win-win situation, but you will learn so much and your confidence will build up.
STEP OUT OF THE C-ZONE: Because we are deathly afraid of failure and judgment we don’t even try. It’s always warm within the comfort zone but we all regret the lost opportunities. And remembering that you stepped out of that zone and tried will always be a fonder memory than having done nothing. So you choose!
‘ME’ FIRST: When it comes to choosing between two alternatives, choose what is good for you. Putting the other person first is always a bad habit because it isn’t long until people start using you for their benefit.
Our society offers plenty of examples. People from all walks of life face rejection, failure, depression, abandonment, and abuse, but what you decide to do with your grief is what matters. To read some inspiring self-love stories, click here.
About the Author: Naushin Nigar is a second-year student at Kasturba Medical College, MAHE.