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The focus during this season of love is often between lovers and rarely on self-love. In fact, self-love is often put on the back burner -- quickly forgotten like the forms of last year’s clouds. Yet self-love is shown to be foundation of any healthy relationships that endures; the kind of relationship that allows one to be more tolerant of life’s frustrations, to thrive and grow while allowing one to create attractive personality and healthy and rich relationships.
Self-love is the most important ingredient to any healthy relationship with another, be it a better relationship with one’s spouse, boyfriend, friend, or even family. But what really is self-love and how does one achieve it?
Some have misconstrued it as narcissism or selfishness but it can only be defined by various elements including self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-appreciation, self-knowing, self-care, self-confidence, self-honesty, self-forgiveness, self-respect, self-expression and self-approval. We speak to different personalities to define self-love in their own lives.
Juliet Achieng, Musician, Former Miss Kenya
Self-love is: Loving and accepting yourself including your all your flaws. This affects every area of one’s life. Example, when I invest in self-love, I am a better wife to my husband and my two daughters. I am able to pay more attention and give more love to people around me. Being a good wife and mother is a learning process and the more I grow inwards the more I grow in my relationships also. I truly believe that you can never love others until you love yourself.
How I nurture it: I intentionally continue to work on myself and my well-being on both good and bad days.
Adelle Onyango, radio host, poet, musician, MC and activist
Self-love is: Discovering who you are in your entirety. Celebrating your greatness but also confronting your demons and loving yourself enough to start healing from those demons. This is a continual process, of honouring the divinity within you enough to take care of who you are mentally and spiritually. Many think self-love is limited to taking care of how you look on the outside. That would be an exercise in futility if you aren’t taking care of how you feel on the inside. You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are not whole, you cannot healthily give what you do not have or do not share with yourself. So, I think whether it’s with romantic relationships or those with friends -- either the relationship will suffer or you will suffer, if you haven’t taken care of you first.
How I nurture it: I make time for myself every day. By taking an hour to either sit in silent reflection; with no phone or television etc and really check on myself and calm down from whatever experiences I may have gone through during the day, or I take that hour to listen to my favourite songs. It’s my moment to really check on myself as you would, a loved one.
Pierra Makena, DJ and TV host
Self-love is: Self-acceptance. If you do not accept yourself as you are then you cannot love yourself. And if you are not able to love yourself, you cannot love someone else the right way. And to accept yourself, you must know yourself. Accepting yourself means critically evaluating yourself and seeing the good and bad and then accepting both. And where you fall short, be forgiving of yourself but to also try to constantly grow and be better. The grace I extend to myself, I am able to extend to others. The more I have learnt to accept myself, the more I am able to accept others and not impose expectations on them that they cannot meet. As a result, I am a better mother, sister, daughter and friend as I extend the grace to others that I give myself.
How I nurture it: I spend time with my daughter. Further, I take time away to evaluate myself and to figure out where I am emotionally, physically and spiritually. I take it very seriously, because I now know that your relationship with others is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you should look at the relationship with yourself. These days, I do not just date. If I evaluate myself and I feel I need to grow in a particular area of self-love, I do not get involved with someone until I have worked on it.
Diana Mayonde Nduba, singer, songwriter and playwright
Self-love is: Honouring yourself and seeing your greatness. It means self-expression, and as an artist, for me that means nurturing my gifts and talents. It also means accepting yourself as you are and not how you think or imagine you should be. When I am in a good place with myself, I find that I am a better wife to my husband, a better daughter, musician, friend, sister. I am even better with my finances. Basically, it is the foundation of everything. It’s like the root of a tree.
How I nurture it: I take time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to be still. I take time to connect with my spirit, to connect with God. To connect with the source of who I am. This helps me to be forgiving of myself and others and prevents unhealthy habits like self-loathing.
Joey Muthengi, radio host/former TV anchor
Self-Love is: Finding time to know who you are, and then learning to love what you find. It is taking time to understand myself, what I want, what I do not want. In relationships, it is finding out what you are bringing to the table and what your expectations are. When I was younger, and I got into relationships where all I wanted was to be liked. I really wanted people to like me because in turn I thought it would make me like myself. I have learnt, over the years, that you have to like yourself first before anyone can like you. You have to work on liking you first. So, if you want to be able to love others you also have to learn to love yourself.
How I nurture it: Alone time works very well for me. I feel like it took me a while to understand who I am and what makes me happy, but I am getting there.
Esther Wahome, Gospel music artist
Self-love is: Knowing and accepting who you are and taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. It means treating yourself with respect and kindness, and putting yourself first, though not in a selfish way. It helps me to be a better mother and wife because I have the energy and joy to be both. When I am happy, healthy and in good spirits, it reflects and affects my loved ones positively.
How I nurture it: I do everything I need to do in order to take good care of myself. I am very religious about it, be it physical exercise or eating well. Additionally, and importantly, I spend time with my maker. Basically, I take care of myself spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Milly Kabi aka Milly Wa Jesus, YouTube Vlogger and makeup artist
Self-love is: Being happy with yourself and comfortable in your own skin. I do not look to other people for that. This really helped me when I was moving from dating my husband into being a wife. It helped me come into marriage happy and complete, and not expecting others to make me happy. If you have no self-love then you are that person who is always expecting to receive, but never to give. In fact, self-love makes you a giver. However, it is something I have had to learn. For example, while dating I was stubborn and expected to receive calls, and messages constantly, but as we got closer to our wedding, I realised I really had to stop being that person. I wanted to be a better person and that has helped me be a better wife.
How I nurture it: I spend time with God. He gives me my confidence and self-worth from God. Once I am filled, I am able to give to others.
Dr Esther Dindi aka Dr Fitness, medical doctor and author with a passion for fitness
Self-love is: Loving you. Appreciating yourself. Understanding that you are unique and you are a gift, that there is no one like you. It’s saying “no” to too many demands. If you do not love yourself then you cannot love others properly. Basically, you cannot pour from an empty cup. As women, we give too much to our kids, husband and work, and often forget to pour into ourselves. Nevertheless, if you do not have self-love, you become a burden to others because you will need so much from them as you will always need to be built up. You will drain your partner, your friends and family with unrealistic expectations. When I work on me, I am able to be a kind mother to my three kids and a loving wife to my husband Dr Keith Dindi.
How I nurture it: I take time to exercise every day and to eat healthy and that gives me the fuel I need. Other times I treat myself to something that is luxurious or go somewhere quiet, but I usually do this with my husband.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke