How to help your loved ones, help themselves
Words: Annette Minnaar| Illustrations: Lucy Rose Currie
Dainty underwear, an indifferent expression and a relaxed stance. Audacious baring of soft rolls, body dimples and marks of life's wear-and-tear.
*Click*, upload onto Instagram and gush about the freedom of self-love.
This is empowering.
This makes them, you and me feel good.
But let's take it one step further.
My idea of self-love is rocking through a random bout of insomnia by propping myself in front of my mirror and going to town on unwanted hairs and pimples. Applying multiple layers of cream to my entire body, and if I am really feeling myself, creating vogue styles of makeup at 3 a.m. and then staring at myself until I am tired enough to return to bed.
Again, so lovely. But let's look at self-love from a different angle.
Self-love does not start and end with simply just the individual, and even if you believe it does, why not help others on their journey. Everyone deserves to be in a good relationship with themselves. If you feel unworthy of your own love and appreciation, your friends are a natural go-to as they happen to think you are worthy of their love and appreciation. Think about it, the chances of you loving yourself will be a lot higher when you feel loved and valued by others.
Whether Myers Briggs informed your status of introvert or extrovert, we live in a social world. We ultimately control the way we feel about ourselves but can be given a warm, metaphorical hug by other loving individuals who listen to us, compliment us and see us for who we are.
Dream Girls' Beyonce' belting out the word 'listen' in a myriad of angelic octaves, to the point that the single word became an entire sentence, is how seriously we need to take listening. Talk is cheap, but a good listener is not.
Start putting your conversations into 5th gear by being engaged, asking questions that prompt detailed responses and then remembering said details. There is nothing more refreshing than a friend bringing up specific details from your previous conversation. SWOON. "Wow, they actually paid attention when I last saw them, and are interested in me and my family members/ job annoyances/ new-found food allergy" etc. This lets your friends know that they matter as individuals and are awesome enough to be on your mind and of concern to you.
There is nothing that gets girls off quite as much as complimenting one another. Lucky for us, gender norms are very 1900s and now men can join in too. If your friend looks beautiful, happy, healthy, glowing –tell them. If they are good at cooking, socialising, dancing, rocking an outfit – tell them. Maybe they aren't aware, or get much-needed validation from a loved one acknowledging their strengths and passions. Sure, our self-esteem shouldn't live off of compliments, but they sure do make people feel good.
Encourage the good in those you love and make it a team effort. Part of self-love is doing soul-enriching activities that make us appreciate who we are and life in general. This can be done in numbers. If your friend feels revived by being in nature then organise a hike or a picnic. Not only will this be uplifting for your friend, but most likely for yourself as well. Perhaps they really enjoy cooking, which creates a great opportunity for a dinner party and, boom-bam-thank-you-ma'am, more 5th gear conversation.
Part of how we view ourselves is structured on what we think others think of us. Ensure your friends know that you think they are the absolute best. Make it very clear that they are of value to you and that others would be lucky to have them as a friend.
All-in-all, be aware of the friend you are to others this Valentine's day. Show your love by aiding your friends' love towards themselves.