Loving Till it Hurts

In our culture, love is everywhere – on movie screens, in our songs, ballads, and poems. When it comes to us desis, we take Valentine’s Day beyond romance and make it our own, with a mishmash of cakes, gulab jamuns, and Mysore Pak. We include our mothers, grandmothers, teachers, friends, and even in-laws as our valentines because love is meant to be radiated, right? And with our love for gifting frequently, the laddoos come home first, which valentine will get them will be decided later.

For us, love goes beyond a day of splurging and sweet nothings. We are givers of emotions, companionship, support, care, and much more.

In the name of love and affection, we strive to perfect our roles and responsibilities as givers, sometimes far more than we can endure. At some point, we feel sapped, and fatigued. Giving starts to hurt and those lifehacks about staying positive start feeling more frustrating than uplifting. In short, we are going through “generosity burnout”. 

Many of us were raised on the notion that putting others first is an ideal we need to live up to. We struggle with emotions of guilt and shame when we prioritize ourselves. It is no surprise that we don’t believe in our self-worth, that we too are deserving of happiness. How can we keep giving when we haven’t powered up for that job?

Recharge With Some Self-love

Self-love is important because we cannot share or receive healthy love until we love ourselves. Practicing self-love is like cultivating a good habit. It comes from within and empowers us to move beyond trauma and conditioning.

We have all, to some degree, set ourselves up to meet impossible standards and unrealistic expectations. More often than not, we take on more than we can handle, be it at home or work. We deal with daily doses of feeling less than adequate. And then comes FOMO, forcing us to keep abreast of news and views that have little to no bearing on our personal lives.

How can we, then, give of ourselves generously and lovingly, when so much is already taken from us?

You Are Worthy

poster that says "You are worthy of love."
Self-love is a long-term commitment to ourselves. (Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

Remember the emergency instructions flight attendants repeat before take-off, ‘Secure your mask first, before assisting others in need’? 

You have to love and give to yourself first before you set out to love and give to others. Thankfully, the importance of self-love is gaining traction from experts in all fields of mental health and well-being. 

Self-love is more than soaking in a hot tub, getting a massage, and treating yourself to ice cream or a spa. No doubt, these self-care activities do make us feel good; it lifts our spirit, but the effect is short-lived. 

Self-love is a long-term commitment to ourselves. It is an appreciation for your virtue, placing importance on your happiness, and being compassionate towards yourself. It also means forgiving yourself for limitations and imperfections, being gentle with your shortcomings, and giving permission to yourself to be you. 

How to Love Yourself

Here are a few tips to nudge you along on your journey toward self-love.

  • Tune in to your needs and listen to the inner voice without judgment. Self-critical thoughts must be handled with affirmations about yourself. Nobody is perfect and everyone is limited in their way.
  • Build compassion and empathy for yourself. Setbacks build a stronger foundation for success. It’s okay to make mistakes or fall short of expectations; it builds resilience.
  • Set healthy boundaries by saying no to people and experiences that do not enrich your life. Lack of self-love comes from a place of people-pleasing. Setting boundaries puts focus on yourself. 
  • Let go of comparisons. Your life is meant for you to play your game and win it.
  • Replace self-criticism with grace and forgiveness. Compliment yourself and acknowledge it when others compliment you. Positive feedback is important.
  • Embrace acts of love with gratitude. Those who are bitter and self-deprecating toss away compliments thinking they are underserved. Instead, soak in the recognition, praise, and acts of respect, and internalize them. 

What Is NOT Self-love

  • I am better than everyone else.
  • I can do whatever I want because it makes me happy.
  • I cannot be bothered by others’ preferences and needs.
  • I love myself; I am more important.

These are signs of egotism, narcissism, and entitlement.  Self-love is inclusive, peaceful, accountable, and responsible. 

This Valentine’s Day, set forth on a new journey of self-awareness, building a life you love, and spending your energies on your choices. If you want confidence, peace, inner strength, and vitality, then seek the magic in self-love.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India Currents. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, organization, individual or anyone or anything.

Annapurna Saripella is a freelance creative writer. She likes to write on Indian themes, social issues, the environment, and health. She also likes to narrate stories from Sanatana Dharma epics for the...