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The gift of self-love on Valentine's Day

The gift of self-love on Valentine's Day

Florists setting up bouquets in the flower shop centre in Cibinong, Bogor, W Java, Tuesday (13/2). (ANTARAFOTO/Yulius Satria Wijaya/pd/18)

I think a self-love is an act of taking care of yourself despite knowing that you are a house of imperfection
As the day of love, February 14, approaches, lovers scramble to find gifts fit to express affection and endearment to one another. Chocolates and flowers are among the most popular choices, while others resort to dinner reservations or organizing a low-key home cooked meal together.

“Making home cooked meals, goofing around with our dogs and watching the long list of online streaming movies we'd like to watch,” said 26-year-old property agent, Ezra Abdiel when asked about his Valentine’s Day plans, adding that he felt the most loved by his significant other on daily occasions such as supporting each other’s career decisions.

Regardless of the rituals, making someone special feeling loved and appreciated is the gist of Valentine’s Day celebrations, and making sure they know just how much we value their presence and companionship. Whilst showering a loved one with affection is important, it is important to split the outpouring sentiment two ways, some for them, some for us.

The term ‘self-love’ has been widely used in the modern age, especially across social media platforms. Valentine’s Day, as the day of love, serves as a great momentum to remind everyone to give themselves some of the love they give out.

The wide circulation of the term on digital platforms can often lead to its very essence being blurred, but to Ezra Abdiel, self-love is accepting how, what, who and where one is and not giving in to what other people are doing or where other people are in their lives.

Similarly, to 29-year-old Rinaldi, who is a businessman, an act of self-love shows that one is hopeful of growth.

“I think self-love is an act of taking care of yourself despite knowing that you are a house of imperfection,” he said.

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Indeed, acceptance is a part of the act of self-love, as clinical psychologist Tara De Thouars said. Self-love can ultimately lead to a healthy and resilient mental state, beginning with the act of acceptance.

“Accept yourself as you are, imperfections and all, including physical ones, past mistakes, and unchangeable situations,” De Thouars wrote in her Instagram post titled ‘Have you practised enough self-love?’

Besides acceptance, she listed four other ways self-love can be practised, including acknowledging one’s strength, being flexible to change for the better, putting efforts to do the best for one’s self, and being true and authentic.

The elements of self-love make up an important part in one’s self esteem, which then lead to positive behavior and emotions, and ultimately to a healthy and strong mental state.

Lack of self-love can lead to one treating other people so well but failing to do so to themselves, dismissing positive events and qualities, only focusing on the negatives, and always feeling like the neighbor’s grass is greener, she wrote.

Sometimes without realizing, we often seek the validation of others to feel good and accepted, without realizing or acknowledging our own potential. The psychologist said that it is one of the challenges to the act of self-love.

Changing one’s mindset surely cannot be done in the blink of an eye. Knowing this, it is fair to say that practising self-love is not an end achievement, rather, it is a journey with its highs and lows. “No one was born loving themselves. Self-love is created because we wanted to,” De Thouars said.

Knowing that the journey of self-love can possibly be a bumpy one, but shifting the focus from the negatives to the positives can be a way to keep going.

This, of course, does not mean that the negatives will disappear once focus is shifted, nor would they be abandoned altogether. Rather, it is the effort to accept and let go of what cannot be changed and reflecting on the good things, as well as appreciating our abilities

Wholeheartedly loving someone else, be it a significant other or a family member, even a friend, often means accepting them as they are with all of their imperfections. We would often forgive the mistakes they make and lift them up when they are in situations that make them feel low. The same acts of love and compassion can be directed towards ourselves in the efforts to practise self-love.

This Valentine’s Day may just be the momentum to give oneself the gift of love. When the going gets tough and the journey of self-love became just a little too bumpy, De Thouars came prepared with positive affirmations:

“I know it is hard, but I thank myself for fighting to give me the best.”

“I deserve something better, I deserve happiness, just like anybody else.”