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Self-Love First: Being Your Own Valentine 

We’ve heard it time and time again: Love yourself first before getting into a relationship. How about we modify that statement a bit and simplify it to: Love yourself. Period. Without any qualifiers about being in a relationship. Yes, the first statement is true, that loving and respecting yourself will absolutely help you to be a healthier partner in a relationship, but working toward loving yourself should be a priority regardless of if you are seeking a relationship at this time or notBeing your own valentine doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you or that you can’t spend your time with someone else. It shows that you enjoy your own company and you have self-love. There is nothing shameful about that. 

Why It’s Okay to Love Yourself First 

With so much emphasis being placed on your relationship status, it can be hard to rationalize putting yourself first. But prioritizing self-love is actually very closely related to prioritizing your mental health. If being there for other people while neglecting yourself sounds all too familiar, this may be the perfect time to work toward a shift in your mindset and behavior. Self-love isn’t selfish or vain. Even if your goal is to be in a relationship, taking care of yourself actually allows you to grow and be the best partner you can be.

Here are some reasons why it’s okay to love yourself first, yes, even before the other important people in your life.  

  • Not subscribing to the idea that self-sacrifice equals love
  • Setting authentic boundaries
  • Combat the need for external validation
  • Fostering freedom 
Self-Sacrifice Does Not Equal Love 

Loving yourself helps you let go of the romantic (and harmful) idea that you need to sacrifice yourself on the altar of love and put the needs of others ahead of your own. In reality, the ultimate show of love is respecting and honoring your own desires and wishes. If you don’t treat yourself well, then your mental health will end up suffering eventually. And suffering definitely isn’t the same thing as love. It is hard to go about daily tasks if you aren’t treating yourself well. 

Authentic Boundaries 

Setting authentic boundaries allows you to show up in the world as your true self. When you say “yes” when you really want to say “no,” you are not honoring yourself and your own wishes. Yes, in life sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, but if we tip the scales too far over into that “do not want to do” territory, we run the risk of losing ourselves. Saying yes when you want to say no is a dangerous habit. Your time is meaningful. Try your best to spend your time on things that feed your soul, not suck your energy. Loving yourself means working to do just that.  

Internal Validation 

If you truly love yourself, you will have less need for external validation. That means that when you are feeling lonely or low, feeling better won’t be determined by the people around you and how much attention they are or aren’t giving you. You won’t need to be in a romantic relationship to feel a sense of self-worth. Loving yourself means that your self-worth comes from within. That doesn’t mean that attention from others doesn’t feel good, it just means that you don’t need that attention to feel good about yourself of to regulate your emotions. 

Be Free 

Finally, loving yourself is freeing. If you love and respect yourself it frees you up to spend your time and energy on things that are meaningful to you instead of doing things that you feel like you “should” do or that you “should” enjoy. If you love yourself you won’t compromise your mental health for anything. Not a job, not a lover, not school. That’s freeing, because you won’t have to spend time agonizing over decision-making if you already know what is in your best interest and what is healthy for you. 

 The above list includes just a few of the reasons why it is not only just ok, but necessary for you to love yourself first. It’s a process, but well worth the effort.

How To Be Your Own Valentine 

If you feel lonely or you’re currently struggling with some mental health concerns, it may be hard to find love for yourself. Here are some ways that you can start to be your own valentine. 

  • Really find out what you like, what interests you, and what you enjoy doing. And do more of that!
  • Start to enjoy your own company. This might include going to the movies, getting coffee, or going out to eat by yourself. Don’t just stay at home if you feel like going out.
  • Give yourself the amount of down time that you need. This might include taking breaks at work, wrapping yourself up in a blanket at home, saying no to social engagements, etc.
  • Decorate your living space or office space to suit you. Take the care and time to make it a place that you enjoy being.
  • Treat yourself kindly on hard days. This means reframing negative self-talk.
  • Disengage yourself from people who bring negativity and hostility into your life. Guard your peace of mind well.
  • Buy yourself something nice (that you can afford) and try not to feel guilty about it!
  • Spend time doing things that nourish your soul. This might include creative endeavors like writing or painting, taking hikes in nature, meditating, etc.

Extra Support 

Self-love is a practice. Meaning it’s not a onetime decision that you make and then you’re done. You have to work at this daily and it can be a challenge. Some days will be better than others. If you would like more support to work on self-love or to process how you show up in relationships, make an appointment with Angelus today. Your therapist can help you to identify some areas for growth and action steps that can jump start your journey to practice self-love daily 

Blog Credit: Natalie Drozda, MA, LPC is a PH.D student in Counseling Education and Supervision at Duquesne University & therapist at Angelus Therapeutic Services

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