If we had a rampant epidemic of self-love then our health care costs would go down dramatically”
– Christiane Northrup, MD
I love the statement Dr. Christiane Northrup made, as her words are simple, and quite profound. Why would health care costs go down if we had a “rampant epidemic of self love”? I believe the costs would go down, because we’d be much healthier, and wouldn’t need to spend our resources on medical treatment. It’s been proven many times that healthy people stay out of the health care system.
Self-love is not only seen as core component of our emotional well-being, it is also as a protective factor that contributes to better health and positive social behavior. It protects against the impact of negative influences. It actively promotes healthy functioning as reflected in life aspects such as achievements, success, satisfaction, and the ability to cope with diseases like cancer and heart disease.
On the other hand, an unstable self-concept and poor self-esteem can play a critical role in the development of an array of mental disorders and social problems, such as depression, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, anxiety, violence, substance abuse and high-risk behaviors. These conditions not only result in a high degree of personal suffering, but also impose a considerable burden on society, through allocation of health care services. Studies have found that low self-esteem (i.e. the absence of self-love) is s a risk factor and positive self-esteem (self-love) provides protection against life’s challenges.
The protective nature of self-love has been demonstrate in studies examining stress and/or physical disease, in which self-esteem is shown to safeguard the individual from fear and uncertainty. This is reflected in observations of chronically ill individuals. It has been found that a greater feeling of mastery, efficacy and high self-esteem, in combination with having a partner and many close relationships, all have direct protective effects on the development of depressive symptoms in the chronically ill. Self-esteem has also been shown to enhance an individual’s ability to cope with disease and post-operative survival. High self-esteem is associated with mental well-being, adjustment, happiness, success and satisfaction. It is also associated with recovery after severe diseases.
Self-love plays a significant role in our physical and mental health and well-being, and therefore should be an important focus in your daily health activities.
One of the most important aspects of becoming more loving of yourself is to interrupt the negative self-talk. While it may just seem like a conversation—your thoughts are actually affecting your entire body on a cellular level. So if you are criticizing yourself throughout your day, almost unconsciously—it’s best to take charge and shift the direction of your thoughts. It may take attention and time—it won’t stop in a day or two, but making the decision, setting your intention, focusing and taking action will help you to shift into a more positive self-acceptance, ultimately consciously loving and accepting yourself which goes a long way.
When we reject ourselves and are critical, our thoughts are translated into chemical toxins of that literally causes our immune system to reject and harm our cells. That’s what chronic stress does, and self-criticism, I believe is even more damaging.
I’m not suggesting by any means not to be honest with yourself, but far too often throughout our life, we’ve come to adapt harmful and negative ideas about ourselves that were passed on to us by others. Self-rejection is not our natural state. Look at babies. They are purely happy, joyful, precious beings for the most part.
So let’s talk about interrupting this stream of thought and uplifting it into a positive direction. One of the most important things we can do is to make positive statements—repeatedly. Just the opposite of what we’re currently doing. Some don’t believe “affirmations” work, when they’re already affirming negative, toxic statements on an ongoing basis. But give it a try, you might be surprised as to how much better you feel over time, once the affirmations take hold, and you begin to see yourself from a more positive internal viewpoint.
Here are a few affirmations you might wish to try to encourage self-love, health and well-being..
- I am healthy, happy, and whole.
- I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
- I love and accept myself just the way I am.
- I bless my being with love.
- I am worthy of love, and love begins with me.
- I love and bless myself now.
- I am taking good care of myself, because I deserve it.
Self-Care is the Best Care
So are you taking better care of yourself? Do you love yourself—in this moment? I hope you are. But you don’t have to beat up on yourself if you’re not. It’s never too late to begin. It’s true that taking good care of yourself is a challenge, because we weren’t taught that self-care is important. According to Dr. Northrup: I’ve spent a lifetime studying self-care. And I’ve come to the conclusion that good self-care is the single most important aspect of our health, period. The programming of self-sacrifice leads ultimately to health-destroying sentiments, such as guilt, resentment, anger, and other emotions linked to high levels of stress hormones. Self-sacrifice feels wrong to us on a soul level—our spirit gravitates naturally to joy and happiness. That’s why self-sacrifice ultimately makes us sick and keeps us stuck in dead-end situations.
“It’s our responsibility to learn how to optimally care for ourselves… The key is knowing in your heart that the best way you can care for others is by caring for yourself. I know this requires a paradigm shift for many of you! Despite what you’ve been brought up to believe, caring for oneself is not an example of a zero sum model—where your gain is another person’s loss. Everyone benefits from someone who knows how to care for him or herself. Self-care sustains and enhances the health of all those around you. The flight attendants are right when they say: You have to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion
The Power of Love