This past Valentine’s Day was the first ever in my adult life that I spent alone. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, my friends are typically split into two camps – the happy lovebirds and the lonely singles who deny the V-word’s existence.
I’ve never been on the singles side of Valentine’s Day before, so I wondered if I would fall into the lonely camp. As someone who has struggled with co-dependency in the past, holidays can be triggering and bring up difficult emotions and old patterns. But this year was different for me. As Wayne Dyer says, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
Not only do I like the person I’m alone with, I love the person I’m alone with. It has taken me a long time to get here, but I have finally come home to myself and realized that I am the one I have been waiting for. And it sure feels good.
My life radically shifted the moment I stopped waiting for someone to rescue me and decided to save myself. What pulled me out of co-dependency was a steadfast commitment to self-love. But how do you turn self-love into a practice, not just a buzz word?
Here are my top 6 ways to cultivate self-love:
1. Practice self-care. Tune in to your needs and put yourself first. On an airplane, you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others in an emergency. The same applies in life. You can’t fill up someone else’s cup, when your cup is empty. Take time to do things that nurture and replenish your mind, body, and spirit. Book a massage, get out in nature, or draw a long hot bath.
2. Set boundaries. Best-selling author and shame researcher, Brene Brown puts it best: “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Setting healthy boundaries means learning to say no to people and situations that drain you. If saying no feels uncomfortable to you, remember that what you’re actually doing is saying yes to yourself.
3. Forgive yourself and others. Resentment harms you, not the person you are resentful toward. And if the one you are hardest on is yourself, know that you are worthy of your forgiveness more than anyone else in this world.
4. Cut out toxic people. Toxic people can not only drain you mentally, but the stress they induce can harm you physically by taxing your immune system. Ask yourself, ‘does being around this person nourish me and give me energy? Or does this person deplete me?’ Surround yourself with people who lift you up and get rid of those who tear you down.
5. Be vulnerable. To again paraphrase Brene Brown, vulnerability is an act of great courage. When we dare to be vulnerable, we dare to allow ourselves to be fully seen and expressed in the world. Vulnerability also opens up the door to connection by revealing to us the sacred truth that we are not alone.
6. Eat right, exercise and practice mindfulness. One of the most common ways we abuse ourselves is through an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Nourish your body with good food and your body will reward you with good health. Treat your mind as reverently as you do your body. It’s no surprise that self-aware people, have the healthiest relationship to self. Mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and depression, improve the way you relate to yourself and others, and create a greater sense of contentment and equanimity.