Romance is in the air as St Valentine’s Day brings out the soft side of people and love is shown in many different gestures. It’s a great opportunity to remind our loved ones how much they mean, whether a partner, child, parent, sibling or friend.

The ancient Greeks broke down love into four categories, Agape (Unconditional, love by choice even if you are not pleased), Philia (Charity or brotherly love), Storge (Family love and physical show of affection), and Eros (the physical, sexual desire – the root of the word erotic).

Self-love forms the foundation of our single, most important relationship – the one with ourselves.

The strength of this foundation determines the strength of all other relationships so it’s worth examining and improving this if needed. This, in Greek terms needs to be agape, despite past words and deeds. Flogging ourselves for perceived shortcomings results in feelings of guilt, acceptance is required so we have the freedom to truly love other people.

The alternative is self-punishment which is a serious mental block that often results in overeating, but moreover it’s a block that can poison our entire life. It can persist for many years, lived out by irrational, self-defeating kind of behaviours and feeling resentment towards others achievements.

One of the main causes of this mental block is CRITICISM, especially when we’re young. The effect of this treatment can be catastrophic as it leads to feelings of inadequacy, even worthlessness. Even years later low self-esteem makes us sabotage our efforts to better ourselves as we don’t consider ourselves worthy of success (even if the original incident is forgotten). Criticism from elders is devastating for a child as they see adults as Gods and what they say is taken as truth. Other causes are trauma, abandonment or neglect.

Whether or not mistakes were made, we can take responsibility for our actions and deal with the consequences. Accepting our mistakes or the actions of others and benefitting from the lessons learned is positive, believing we should feel guilt and destroying our own happiness will leave us void of love for ourselves or anyone else. Our energy for others will be quickly depleted and relationships will falter as the reserves are not available.

Abusive relationships are devastating. If we don’t look after our mind, body and spirit, it is a form of self-abuse. There are many people who look after their cars, homes and furniture better than they look after their own wellbeing, what good will those things do us in the long term?

We need to face our problems head on, teach others how to treat us by showing them how we treat yourselves. There are three elements that need to be nurtured – our mind, our body and our spirit.

When we work on these three we will develop an inner contentment, a strong sense of self that is not easily swayed by external events. It’s important to get rid of any belief that this is selfish or arrogant, it is crucial if we want to live a content fulfilled life. Of course it is easy to remain in victim mode and find comfort in a “poor me” identity (especially if we had to disconnect with our feelings in childhood for survival) but I assure you that staying in this zone will eat us up inside and lead to even more self-destructive behaviours.

Whether we’re in a relationship or not, we have the tools to be totally fulfilled. The potential in every one of us is beyond belief, starting with non-judgemental thinking. So love yourself this Valentine’s day, accept and deal with your demons, then there is nothing left to conquer and you can go on to see and experience unconditional love outside of you.

Blog Post by Claire Jackson