As Valentine’s Day passes us by again, the question of who’s your true love might have come up. Perhaps a magazine or TV ad posed this question or it’s your best friend or your frenemy. No matter who brought up this question, most of us think externally for the answer. Is it my boyfriend or husband? Is it my girlfriend or wife? Is it my best friend? After all, love comes in all different forms and types.
What’s interesting to me though is how infrequently people look internally for that answer.
That’s what I’m talking about.
How often do we tell ourselves that we are amazing, worthwhile, and loved?
How often do we thank our body for all the incredible things it allows us to do like running to a meeting when we’re late, catching ball with your child, playing tug-of-war with your puppy, or even typing articles or papers for school or work?
One thing I’ve noticed a lot in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA, is that true healthy changes require some level of self-love in order for us to achieve it and maintain it.
What I mean is that the patients who seem to be the most successful in making healthy lifestyle changes or in pursuing their health goals are those who deem themselves worthy of such effort and that requires self-love.
As in many aspects of life, when we try to achieve a goal in health, there will be the initial excitement in starting the path but as obstacles come up or as the novelty wears off, I’ve noticed that those people who value themselves, love themselves enough to keep trying and pushing, are the ones who succeed.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this such as severe illness, loss of income, loss of loved ones or many other things we can’t control for which could impede our healthy goal outcomes. But, if all things are stable, those people who focus on all aspects of loving oneself, tend to do better. Which is why depression can be an associated factor in higher negative outcomes in many types of diseases; hence we all take depression and other forms of mental health issues very seriously.
At the end of the day, what we think and how we perceive ourselves and the world can impact our entire body and health; it’s not just in our mind or head.
I know you might be thinking this is not some novel concept I’m talking about but I feel like it’s worth writing about because despite most of us knowing this, many of us forget the importance and start to sometimes either self-sabotage or just simply give up. I’ve been guilty of that. To err is human they say, but I also say, to be strong and to persevere is also a quality of human beings and the way to foster that is to foster the fact that we are all worthy and deserve self-love.
I challenge you this month (and every month) to focus on aspects of self-love.
Whether it is to explore activities that help you to grow in areas you know you need to or simply because you want to.
Or to read inspirational words and articles to help inspire yourself into healthy behavior and self-love.
Or to list out things you love about yourself.
Or to have your friend list amazing things about you and you do the same for her or him.
Or to simply put your feet up and relax and rest.
Just do something at least a few times per week to reflect on what’s amazing about yourself, to emphasize that you are worth everything good in this world, and that you are worth making the time and effort required to optimize your mental and physical well-being.