Celebrating You: How To Truly Be Your Own Valentine

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Ready to really focus on you? Life coach Karen Elizaga spills the self-love tips you need to know.

If you're someone who cringes at the sight of anything Valentine's Day-oriented, it's time to shift your focus this year and learn how to be your own valentine. Life coach and author Karen Elizaga, shares some self-love tips from her new book, Finding Your Sweet Spot: A Guide to Personal and Professional Excellence.

Find out the easiest way you can honor yourself this year, how to get out of the social media trap and how you can win a copy of her book.

YourTango: Could you give our readers some suggestions on how to honor themselves this year?
Karen Elizaga: Valentine's Day is the best time to really celebrate you. Even if you take 15 minutes to go for a walk or have a quiet cup of tea [without distractions], making time for yourself is important. It doesn't have to be luxurious. That project or business venture that you’ve been thinking about? Take 15 minutes a day, or an hour a week to focus on it. Putting yourself first, for brief periods of time, is so important, especially for moms who rarely take any time at all to themselves.

YT: What advice do you have for people who have fallen into the trap of feeling sorry for themselves because everyone else's accomplishments seem so much grander on social media? 
KE: I've heard about this problem from 10-years-olds and 63-years-olds, where we begin to feel sorry for ourselves via social media. The most important thing to remember is that what's happening on Facebook or Twitter is a mere snapshot of somebody's day. If you look at snapshots of your life, of course they'll all look fabulous. One awareness to bring to social media is that it's not real life. It's edited, and carefully chosen! Appreciate the moments for what they are, but appreciate your life for what it is.

YT: What are some of your best self-love strategies?
KE: I want to first explain that I'm not talking about a narcissistic love, or about anything artificial like beauty. The love I'm talking about is accepting, forgiving, and wholesome. 

Think about the person in your life that you love the most, and how that person makes you feel. How much faith do you have in that person? The sky is the limit, right? Even when this person makes mistakes, you act kindly — nothing changes your love for this person. Do you hold yourself to the same standard? The biggest thing you can do in terms of cultivating love for yourself is to put yourself in this person's place, and treat yourself with the same level of kindness, forgiveness, and belief.

YT: Why do you think even the most accepting person is sometimes so hard on themselves?
KE: Unfortunately, it’s a habit that is cultivated when we’re children and think to ourselves, “that person is better than me.” There’s this whole comparison thing going on that just becomes intuitive for us. When you’re puffing somebody else up at your expense, it’s easy to embrace the negativity.

We need to change the vocabulary we use when we talk to ourselves. You know your mistakes, and it’s easy to berate yourself with thoughts like “Ugh, I can’t believe you did that, you’re such an idiot.” It’s hard to feel affection or love when you’re speaking [to yourself] in such an unkind way.

YT: What are some cold, hard, self-love practices we can start applying?
KE: First stop and think, "What do I love most about myself? What do I appreciate about myself?” and think about your answers on a micro and macro-level. For example, on a micro-level, I love my fingernails. On a macro-level, I love that I’m always optimistic.

Think about your own internal dialogue, and change it. Instead of berating yourself over a mistake, pause and think about your good qualities. "I’m smart. I’m friendly. I take care of my children.” Then pause to give yourself some appreciation.

Think about the person you love the most. How do you treat that person? With gentleness? With tenderness? Do that to yourself! Sit up straight, rub your stomach, and find your center. Give yourself a little bit of kindness each day.

GIVEAWAY: Want to read more about Karen's self-love strategy that has lead both corporate leaders and teenage girls to happier, more productive lives? We're giving away three copies of her book, Find Your Sweet Spot: A Guide to Personal and Professional Excellence Hardcover

TO ENTER: Tell us in the comments below: What do you love most about yourself?

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