Why practising self-love is essential even in relationships and here’s how you can do it
You know that saying, “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you...”
“Here’s one habit that I want you to start, every single morning,” says Jay Shetty, “I want you to go to a mirror and do the following. Write down I love you because and then every morning I want you to write something nice about yourself, compliment yourself because so often we stand in front of a mirror and just criticise ourselves.” He then takes to the gram to post it with a caption that reads, “Love starts with you. It’s important to practice giving yourself the love you need before you expect it from someone else. People determine how to treat you in large part by observing how your treat yourself.”
For a long time, the idea of self-love and self-care was neglected for social obligations, friendships, relationships and other responsibilities. Yet today, we’ve seen a sharp rise in the conversation surrounding self-love and with good reason. According to science, self-love is a purposeful pursuit. An article in Ness Labs, refers to a study conducted by researchers at Tufts University which emphasises that the benefits of self-love include but are not limited to better mental health, increased self-acceptance, self-awareness, and more motivation.
But here’s the thing—self-love can be a messy journey. It comes with its own baggage of overwhelming emotions, and may initially induce a sense of loneliness in people. In his book, 8 Rules of Love, the first rule that Shetty writes about, is self-love and the journey from loneliness to solitude. As you go through this journey, you not only begin enjoying your own company, but you become increasingly aware of your values, your vision, your principles, strengths, areas of improvement and more. When this happens, you know what you can bring to a relationship. “We don’t think about the importance of bringing self-knowledge to a relationship, being self-aware means you can temper your weaknesses and play to your strengths,” he writes.
According to self-love expert and mentor Gina Swire, your relationship with yourself determines how you handle and deal with your relationship with others. “The type of relationship you attract from a place of self-love is exponentially different to that of a pre-self-love awakening,” Swire tells Stylist, “The depth you can go to with a partner and the space you can hold for each other reflects that which you have grown into yourself.”
When you look down on yourself, or don’t cut yourself some slack—you’re allowing others to treat you that way too. Without self-love, you may find it hard to draw boundaries, indulge in people-pleasing behaviours, settle for less, and be susceptible to emotional manipulation. On the other hand, practising self-love can help you become more self-assured and know exactly what you bring to the table. Self-love generates a sense of radiant happiness and fulfilment, which in turn helps you give more of yourself, and your values and goals to your relationship.
Here are a five ways you can practice self-love in a relationship
Saying two to three affirmations on a daily basis is a great way to start your journey of self-love. In many ways, these positive statements about yourself will motivate you to challenge the self-doubts you often experience. It will encourage you to treat yourself with the kindness, love and affection you deserve. You can also use this activity to experience more emotional and spiritual intimacy with your partner by practising relationship affirmations together.
Write yourself a love letter
Every six months or so, take out the time to write yourself a love letter complimenting yourself on how you’ve grown, what you’ve been through and how you’ve dealt with it all with utmost grace, compassion, love and empathy. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you might have made in the past, and focus on what you’re looking forward to and your goals for the future. Then, you can also write a love letter to your partner—expressing your love, challenges, areas of improvement, and more. Don’t worry about how well you write the letter; just focus on expressing yourself and practising gratitude.
Spend time with yourself
Even while being in a relationship, it is necessary and healthy to take out time for yourself. Treat this as a solo date—be with your thoughts, feelings and emotions while enjoying a day at the spa, volunteering your time at an animal shelter, splurging with some retail therapy or even sipping on a glass of wine at home.
Heal from the past
Sometimes, experiences of the past such as childhood trauma, and a troubled relationship with parents and family members, can leave us feeling unworthy of love. It is important to recognise, acknowledge and accept such traumas before you begin your journey of healing and self-love. This can be overcome through different ways such as simply communicating with those who made you feel a certain way, journaling or seeking help from a professional.
Don’t let go of yourself
Sometimes, when your partner doesn’t enjoy the same things, you end up compromising on things you want to do. Do it without them. Sometimes, you also start prioritising the relationship and end up not dedicating enough time and discipline to your self-growth. It is important to keep in mind that growth in a relationship is intertwined with your own journey, goals, beliefs and dreams. We’d urge you to be with someone who respects, supports and admires you for you and all your little quirks rather than expecting you to change your core values and beliefs.