Today is Valentine’s Day and it’s inevitable there’s be somebody – possibly many bodies – in your close circle still frantically searching for the “perfect gift” for their partner in love or the object of their affection.

Some will opt for something modest and simple, perhaps a gesture that holds lots of meaning, while others may choose to spend tons of money on a flashy gift.

The lucky few will have realised that the best gift you can give to your partner is kindness and acceptance. And this applies to ourselves too. It is only when we have accepted ourselves, and are able to celebrate our strengths and acknowledge our limitations without judgement that we can be happy, and contribute to the level of happiness we experience in our relationships with others.

Do things you love and gift your smile to the world

Self love

Yes, I’m going there… I’m talking about “self love”. It’s become something of a buzz word recently, but let’s ignore the cringe factor that’s often attached to the concept and try to understand what it really means and how it contributes to our self-development and happiness.

According to Wikipedia, self-love can be defined as “love of self or regard for one’s own happiness or advantage” and can be seen as both a “basic human necessity and as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness”.

Many times I have written – and continue to write – about the significant psychological impact losing a large amount of weight, and getting fitter and healthier has had on my life, and while this has led to me feeling more confident and having many more positive interactions with people, it doesn’t always have that effect.

Confidence on the up

As you start achieving your goals on your journey to improve yourself, your confidence levels will increase – and the unfortunate truth is that while some people will respond positively to this change in you, it will make others uncomfortable.

Often, this has more to do with the other person’s insecurities and if you examine your relationships and interactions closely, you’ll probably find that those who find it difficult to handle the change in you will be those who benefited from your insecurities.

Fitness expert Jill Coleman recently shared a post on social media that hit the nail on the head with regards to this.

She wrote: “Often, we spend so much time trying to figure out how to increase our confidence and show up powerfully… that we don’t stop to think what it might feel like once we get there. And one unexpected thing that can come up is… people around you won’t like it. Your confidence alone will make some people feel insecure or threatened.”

Anticipate the criticism

How will this manifest? Well, they may start criticising the amount of time and energy you spend on taking care of yourself, or for being a “picky eater” because you no longer want to binge on pizza and beer every other night. They may call you superficial or urge you to focus on “the more important issues” affecting the world.

Hold up. Of course, there are “more important issues” affecting the world, but your first priority is your own well-being. You are no use to the world if you are unhealthy, uncomfortable with any part of your whole self, or if you’re suffering from a lack of confidence.

On the flipside, some of the issues you grapple with will be your own and may indeed result in you acting like a less likeable version of yourself – and you’ll have to find a way to deal with them. Sometimes this will necessitate seeking professional help, like counselling.

Ultimately self-improvement is not a journey along a straight path. There will be obstacles and mountains to climb. But remember that even when you feel alone, it’s unlikely that you are.