Last year's Valentine I wanted to get myself a bunch of fresh flowers, and I was certain I was going to as I had just begun to appreciate flowers. (And had only received flowers ever on the day of our wedding & when I failed my driving test). But I just really wanted to do something for myself that day. Not because I didn't think I'd get val'ed so to speak. But because I felt like showing myself love in a tangible way.
I have no objections at all to celebrating Valentine as a lovers day. As a matter of fact, I think it's kind of cute - as it was to see so many people (particularly older men) at the store at about 6pm (obviously last minute decision makers like me) struggle to find the perfect greeting card which captures their feelings.
No doubt it's great to be in a loving relationship around this time to be loved & to love. But you know what I've come to really appreciate as I grow older, self love. Because it's so so true what they say - you can't pour from an empty cup. And you can't give what you don't have. I've come to realise that on days I'm cranky, unhappy, deflated - it's genuinely hard to love. And it's probably also harder to be loved.
So with each passing day, I'm a little bit more conscious of self love. But hold up. This doesn't mean pride or narcissism or selfishness. It's simply a regard for your own well being and happiness, self acceptance and not necessarily seeking validation from someone else. You know what they saw about peaches:
You may be the juiciest, ripest peach in the whole world and there'd still be someone who doesn't like peaches.
And here are some great ways to practice or build self love!
1. Accept those flaws!
If you asked me a few years back what's the one thing I'd love to change in my body I'd probably not let you finish before I respond "my feet!". I thought they could do with being narrower and prettier (all the pretty shoes are narrow! Someone fix this please!). But now, I couldn't honestly care less (maybe because I've seen some feet that I'd rather not have). But the point is we're all gonna have flaws. Some of which are basically beyond your control. The sooner you accept those, the better.
2. Realise how awesome you are
I have a hard time receiving compliments - but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm pretty awesome (Haha!) And you should too. No matter how many flaws above you've come to accept, I bet there's so many many other things that make you pat yourself on the back. If you're struggling to find it, you know what to do. Grab a sheet of paper & get writing. Or be more attentive to the compliments people give you - and write those down too!
3. Buy yourself a tangible gift
I have this weird thing I do, particularly when I buy myself a slightly expensive purchase. I gift it to myself (only if the gifting service is free though!) so it says "From Kachee, to Kachee, because you deserve it! It really does go a long way. So whether it's a bunch of fresh flowers or a designer hand bag, be conscious about gifting yourself too!
4. Indulge in intangibles
Arguably, this is more important than buying tangible items. Those things that make us feel alive - whether it's a fresh manicure, going to the movies getting your makeup on fleek or just having a good night sleep. They make us walk with our shoulders higher & make us happy from within. I overhead someone say recently that he was overwhelmed with life's daily activities & had no time to go to the gym (the one activity that makes him feel great!). I know with all of life's lemons it can be hard, but hopefully if we prioritise and manage time wisely, it can be done.
5. Positive Affirmations!
I'm believing in this more daily! And why shouldn't you - there's nothing to loose! So asides from realising how awesome you are, say it out. Affirmations have been proven to work and help to empower you, through the thought-speech-action process. And we should affirm the good in every other parts of other lives - business, relationship, health - you name it!
Take care how you speak to yourself. You are listening!
6. Celebrate your victories
How many times do you knock yourself for the many things you've failed to achieve. But then fail to pat yourself on the back for the excellent ones you've done right! You know what to do, fix it and celebrate every little victory - these are the victories that add up to the big ones!
7. Let go of past emotions
There's a traditional Igbo proverb that says something about people who only wash the back of a cup but leave the inside dirty. No matter how much tangible items we buy or make time to get those eyebrows right, we must realise the need deal with our insides. And I know it can be pretty tough. Past breakups, neglect, hurt and even your own past mistakes . So acknowledge them & try to deal with them else they'd just keep weighing us down.
8. Surround yourself with positive people
Even after you've let go of all the hurt, realise how awesome you are and constantly affirm good, if you have negative people around you, they are sure to constantly pour a trailer load negativity into your life. So severe those relationships. From those who gossip about others, to those who constantly bring you down. Nah, flip the coin & make sure everyone around you is adding good value. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have people who give constructive criticism or never tell us the bitter truth - as we need that in order to truly grow.
9. Quit Comparing!
Ugh! We've said this a million times, but we'll keep saying it. Stop it already. We're all running different races, we have different gifts & purpose. We're simply different with different DNAs, tongue patterns and finger prints. Okay, I accept it's not that easy particularly in this social media age. But it's possible (and oh so necessary!). If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others you'd be filled with so much negative emotions on the outside - and that also means you've got too much time on your hands, & you've taken your eyes off your own goal post!
10. Be Present & Mindful
Thanks to my friend whose boyfriend is Danish, I've recently come to learn of the concept of Hygge (pronounced heu gah). It's as real to the people of Denmark, perhaps what Jollof rice is to Nigerians & Sunday roast is to the English. Hygge is basically all about feeling present and mindful living to actually recognise and appreciate the little moments, as well as creating simple rituals that give that warm fuzzy feeling away from the daily hustle & bustle (and our phones & TV) - whether it's enjoying a cup of tea all by yourself or stretched out in bed and reading a good book, let's try to live more in these moments.
11. Show love to others!
In one episode of the amazing sitcom FRIENDS, Phoebe claimed that nothing we need was truly altruistic but at the end of the day, was for our own benefit - even showing love to others. She claimed that we still did that so we could either feel good about yourself or because of the belief that we'd be rewarded if we're kind to others. I guess it's kinda true - maybe like a chicken & egg situation. But showing love to others (particularly those who have less) defintely helps us often see how blessed & fortunate we are, which in turn should help us love ourselves!
I know these all seem easy to write & harder to put in practice. But if we're conscious about it, step by step - we'd see the changes!
As popular Nigerian crooner, Onyeka Onwenu says it. "Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift of all"
Out of a 10, how much will you say love yourself on the average? And which of these (if any) do you need to pick up or improve on? or me, its number 10 - being more present & mindful. By the way, do you think this is stuff everyone already knows? I sometimes struggle with these kind of posts...thinking "duh, this is basic knowledge..."
ps: Last year Valentine, I wrote about my preference for tangible gifts over experiences - actually I'd love both, but I think I'm beginning to prefer the latter. Read it here and take the little poll if you missed it.
ppS: if you'd rather read something mushy on this day, you can try How We Met & Our First Date or see photos from our Civil Wedding Ceremony & Pre-Wedding Shoot