As we come to the end of February we wanted to discuss the importance of loving oneself. Now we know that this might seem like a similar topic that we discussed last month: Self-Compassion. Ackerman explains the difference between these two concepts in their article What is Self-Compassion and What is Self-Love? To summarize Ackerman, self-compassion is to empathize with yourself and offering kindness and understanding towards yourself, while self-love is valuing yourself as a human being worthy of love and respect. An important distinction Ackerman makes though is the difference between self-love and narcissism, which is to love oneself without making downward social comparisons. The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation defines self-love as an appreciation for oneself that supports your physical, mental, and spiritual growth. In other words it means putting your needs first occasionally; we are all out here to help others, but sometimes we need to help ourselves first.
Self-love is an important part of being an SEL practitioner as the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. According to Martin from PsychCentral practicing self-love helps to prevent and reverse self-criticism by allowing you to feel proud of who you are. Self-love also helps to prevent perfectionism and set healthy boundaries – for more information on healthy boundaries check out last month’s blog post Healthy Boundaries. By loving yourself, you are better able to practice self-compassion and self-care activities which in the long run allow you to better help others. PsychCentral’s article 7 Ways to Cultivate Self-Love notes that self-love can improve sleep patterns, improved self-esteem, improved health, and better stress management.
You are probably wondering how to increase and cultivate self-love for yourself. Psychology Today mentions the importance of practicing mindfulness and acting on what you need rather than your wants. Acting on what you need might sound selfish, but sometimes you need to take a mental health day or just an afternoon nap to make you think more clearly and better help others. PsychCentral notes that to practice self-love it is important to practice self-forgiveness, self-expression, and gratitude. Eddins Counseling Blog discusses the importance of blocking out negative self-thoughts such as “you could have done better” or “you should have done this/that instead…” and to remember to celebrate your accomplishments no matter how small they are to someone else.
Self-love is an important part of our daily lives as SEL practitioners. Remember, we cannot pour from an empty cup.