February is the month for lovers...and what better way to spend it than to harnessing the true power of loving ourselves. ❤️ Tomorrow, I have the honor of speaking for the largest, not-for-profit organization, Dress For Success (DFS). This organization holds a special place in my heart because they are committed to empowering women to achieve economic independence. They provide a network of support, professional attire and personal development. My presentation is on The True Power of Loving Yourself. It is part of the DFS series, Matter of the Heart.

As I was preparing for my presentation, I began thinking about how the majority of my career revolved around the heart. Initially, I worked in Big Pharma, which is a term used to refer to the global pharmaceutical industry. I was responsible for selling cardiovascular (heart) drugs.

After a couple of years of selling pharmaceuticals, I was presented with a better job opportunity. I transitioned into selling medical supplies. At that time, my target customers were surgeons. Because of that, I spent most of my time selling in the operating room. I enjoyed being in the operating room. Watching the surgeons at work was exhilarating, especially when I had the chance to observed open heart surgeries. Those were my favorite procedures to watch, even though they lasted for many hours. There were times when I would be in surgery for close to five hours. During those times, I learned about the intricacies of the heart and how it works.

Ironically, or not, my next job was with medical device company in the cardiac rhythm division. Primarily, I worked with electrophysiologists. Electrophysiologists are doctors who deal with the electrical impulses in the heart that control its rhythm and trigger heartbeats. They are trained to diagnose and treat arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). The electrophysiologists help determine a suitable treatment for these irregular heartbeats. Once again, I was working with matters the heart.

It’s amazing how life unfolds. All these years of working in Corporate America has lead me to become an expert on the heart. Even now, as an entrepreneur, I continue to work with the heart, but in a different way. As a consultant and transformational coach, I help leaders use their hearts to advance patient/client outcomes, achieve higher productivity and increase profits by creating a more caring and engaging workplace.

So, here I am today, thinking about the power of loving yourself and strategies to cultivate self-love. Self-love is the practice of caring for, accepting and valuing self unconditionally. It involves recognizing one’s worth, acknowledging personal strengths and weaknesses, and treating oneself with kindness, compassion and respect. It is not about selfishness but rather about nurturing a healthy relationship with self.

“One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others." — bell hooks

Here are 7 strategies for cultivating self-love:

  1. Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk — Notice when you engage in negative self-talk and challenge these thoughts by questioning their validity. Replace negative thoughts with more balanced and compassionate self-talk. Practice affirmations to cultivate positive beliefs about yourself.
  2. Practice Self-Compassion — Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a close friend facing a similar situation. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your struggles and offering yourself words of comfort and encouragement.
  3. Set Boundaries — Establish clear boundaries in your relationships and commitments to protect your emotional well-being. Learn to say no to requests or situations that drain your energy or compromise your values. Prioritize your needs and make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine.
  4. Cultivate Forgiveness — Release resentment and anger towards yourself and others by practicing forgiveness. Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of being human and that you are worthy of forgiveness and compassion. Let go of past hurts and focus on moving forward with a sense of peace and acceptance.
  5. Focus on Strengths — Identify your strengths, talents, and positive qualities, and celebrate them. Shift your focus away from perceived flaws or weaknesses and instead concentrate on your unique gifts and abilities. Recognize that you have inherent worth and value beyond external achievements or validations.
  6. Practice Self-Care — Prioritize self-care activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment, whether it's spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or pursuing creative hobbies. Make self-care a regular part of your routine to replenish your energy and strengthen your self-love.
  7. Challenge Unrealistic Standards — Recognize and challenge unrealistic standards or expectations that you may be holding yourself to. Embrace imperfection and allow yourself to be human, acknowledging that it's okay to make mistakes or experience setbacks. Focus on progress rather than perfection, and celebrate your efforts and achievements along the way.

Self-love is an ongoing practice that requires patience, mindfulness and self-awareness. By incorporating self-love practices into your daily routine, you can enhance your overall well-being, resilience and capacity for meaningful relationships with yourself and others.

In the words of the singer, Rihanna, “The minute you learn to love yourself, you won’t want to be anyone else.”