Okay, I admit it. "Self-love" sounds a bit cheesy. But it fascinates me. It's important to helping each of us remain sane and balanced human beings, and yet we're so bad at it.
How many hours this week have you in some way, dedicated to other people?
We're multi-tasking, easily distracted, rarely paying full attention to the world around us, and running on empty fighting off the latest bug.
Yet we find time to be good partners / wives / mothers / colleagues etc [delete as appropriate] and we always find time for our friends.
Now, imagine a friend has some kind of emotional trauma and calls you up. You drop everything you listen intently, you use a calming voice, you soothe them, you say "everything's gonna be alright", you remind them that they've got through challenging times in the past, you offer your wisdom, you tell them how great they are, and eventually they calm down and begin to feel a bit better.
You've been kind, caring, attentive, soothing and loving. You get 10/10 for being a great friend, by the way.
Now, imagine that you are going through some kind of emotional trauma. You decide not to call a friend because it's actually a small problem and you can deal with it if you just brush yourself off and carry on. You berate yourself for feeling upset telling yourself to get a grip, or you wallow in self-pity. You tell yourself to be strong. You disguise how you're really feeling as no-one likes a whinger. And by the way, you get 0/10 for being kind to yourself. But that’s okay because in this headspace you don’t believe you deserve any better.
We have a problem.
It's hard to be nice to yourself because (unless you're a narcissist) you tend to value other people more than you value yourself. It's in our nature to self-deprecate.
There's evidence from social and evolutionary psychology that suggests that by tending to others' needs we are reinforcing our own value to the group (if we were horrible and selfish, the group would kick us out). Being nice to others causes emotional elevation, which helps us feel good about ourselves. So actually, being a good friend is not completely altruistic.
But that still doesn't explain why we're so bad at being nice to ourselves.
In my search for the answer, I'm learning to be kind to myself. I deserve that (although that felt awkward to write so I'll write it again from the heart)...
I deserve it.
And so do you.
The good news is that it's really easy. You just have make time for it.
In the last few months I've been asking people what helps them to feel better about themselves. I've listed some of these below to help get you thinking.
Some might resonate with you, and some won't. Feel free to add to it.
Whatever it is that helps you show yourself some love, right now, today, or some time this week, please please go ahead and do at least one thing for yourself.
Not only will you feel better for it, but people around you will notice that you’re calmer, or happier, or more present.
These are not in any particular order:
Take the dog for a walk
Get my hair done
Go for a treatment (massage, facial, nails)
Lie in the bath with bubbles and candles
Play uplifting music
Have a lie-in
Have breakfast in bed
Read a favourite book
Meet a girlfriend for coffee
Call a girlfriend
Go for a run
Listen to my favourite tunes
Sing at the top of my voice while hoovering so no-one can hear me
Dance in the kitchen
Dance around the house
Sit in silence, and just breathe
Meditate (download Insight Timer or similar app)
Call my favourite aunt
Write in my journal
Read a favourite book
Hug a friend
Watch my favourite movie
Go for a walk in the park
Go to the gym
These are personal, physical, spiritual or require connection with others.
But this is all about you and your self-love.
So go and do something that energises you, or soothes you, and let me know what works for you in the comments below.