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I heart me: 3 ways to improve your relationship with yourself on Valentine’s Day

Tips & tricks by Sarah Chamberlain

Being alone on Valentine's Day can be difficult. But it also offers an opportunity to spend some time getting to understand your own wants and needs. Sarah Chamberlain offers her tips for improving your relationship with yourself.

While pop culture might make you think that Valentine's Day is only for love-struck couples, it's actually a day of celebrating love that can be for anyone, including yourself.

That’s much easier said than done though. As we all know, Valentine’s Day can be an incredibly tough day when we dwell on past failed relationships, insecurities, loneliness, hurtful experiences or people, perhaps even jealousy of other relationships.

This article will attempt to help you dump this toxicity, and instead switch your focus from things that have been and gone to the present-day nurturing of a better relationship with yourself – one that should have all the same signs of a healthy, loving relationship you have with someone else.

Reframe self-destructive demons into opportunities for personal growth

Toxic thoughts and feelings can poison our mind with irrational, out-of-our-control barriers that prevent positive change.

Learning how to flip your inner voices of victimisation and recognise yourself as a survivor is key.

Research suggests you should ‘reframe’ thoughts to have outcomes you’re in control of. Rather than thinking about why something went wrong or blaming yourself for what you feel you did wrong, instead think about what you can learn from the experience or what you can do next time to improve.

But, how can that toxic relationship or loneliness from years ago possibly be reframed?

For example, ‘I can’t believe I did X or invested in Y… CRINGE’, turns into ‘This wasn’t right for me, I want X and Y, or I would resolve it this way next time’. The type of conversations I’m working on changing when my self-destructive thoughts come back to haunt me as I try to sleep.

Two important – and at times very difficult – parts of this process are accepting responsibility for your actions and avoiding judgement. Instead, look at what you’ve learned from it or how to deal with a situation better. It’s put you on a new path, make it a successful one.

Author’s tip: Here are some new lovers to take to bed on Valentine’s Day: Read The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, or if you prefer something to listen to, Fiona Murden’s Dot to Dot podcast (a podcast I could spend hours listening to).

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Learning to love yourself

Mental health issues can result from many different things: major events in our life, concerns about our past and our future, or simply a sense of a loss of control. Another is a loss of confidence and of our self-worth. In this post, Self Love Diary and Us highlights the practice of 'self-love' and its power in dealing with mental health concerns.

Dear diary: actually, you’re amazing

Is the negative partner living in your head getting attention it doesn’t deserve? Let’s write it a love note.

Make a note of your talents, strengths, and any positive feedback you have received. List the goals you’ve achieved, ask your loved ones what makes them proud of you, and carry this golden self-worth work-in-progress bible with you wherever you can, and try to read it every day. (You should always add to this too).

Achievement and self-esteem go hand-in-hand when trying to build a relationship with yourself, and with perseverance, time, and consistency, memorising replacement thoughts will cognitively trick your brain into restructuring how you feel.

Why?” I hear you ask.

The answer lies in the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a form of talking therapy centred around stopping negative thought patterns. A common method used in CBT is to list unproductive, often unrealistic thoughts and provide alternatives that are based on evidence. That’s all we’re doing here with our love note: providing ourselves with (figuratively) hard evidence to remind ourselves of when we veer into unhelpful thought patterns.

Treat yourself as you would a lover

Say your partner needed your support, how would you respond? Probably not by criticising them. You’d reassure them, right? Maybe even run them a bath, make their favourite food or turn to retail therapy to treat them.

We provide partners with respect, forgiveness, encouragement, and thoughtfulness which are also important qualities in your relationship with yourself, especially on Valentine’s Day.

So, put your social media down, get productive to take your mind away from past demons or future anxieties, or hit the lights, create some ambience and bathe in your presence, and try to be mindful (meditation party invite this way).

Remember what self-love is really about

Where most of us fall down with self-love is that we forget the true meaning of it. It isn’t just about the surface-level sensation of making ourselves feel good. It’s about learning what makes us happy, and how to forgive ourselves for where we are in life – all of which can take time.

So even though it might not feel like you’re any closer to either of those values today, know that this is an ongoing process; one that exists outside of the Valentine’s Day cliches pop culture has us believe.

Drop that toxicity. Today is about YOU.

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