How often do you say the three little words “I love you” to yourself? Perhaps, not enough. Self-love is a phrase that runs around society’s social media platforms, but often we don’t take the steps to make it a priority.

Krystal Brown was one of those women before she found Hand UP for Women. The 2021 program graduate said, “I had to learn to love myself, before I could love and care for anybody else.”

She said she didn’t feel worthy of love. Her focus was on using drugs and getting the next high. At the time, she was married and realized the relationship didn’t focus on loving herself, let alone one another.

Hand UP for Women helped her realize her worth in many ways, such as being a positive influence in her community. Respecting and sharing kindness with others whom she’s never met is just one way she offers goodness. Hand UP helped her turn to God, who she feels her worth in His eyes. Looking back Brown recognized that nothing that is good for her will harm her.

Her story is like Marilyn Anderson’s, a 2016 Hand UP for Women graduate.

Self-love was not a top priority for Anderson before and during her first two marriages. Depression had gotten the best of her, and she knew she needed a change.

Anderson’s brother had been a Christian for a long time, and she decided it was time to follow in his footsteps. She says of turning to Hand UP for Women, “It was the best thing that I ever did.”

These women aren’t alone. Research shows self-love is in crisis mode. A 2020 study asked 22,000 people from 21 different countries were asked how they rated their self-worth, happiness and wellbeing. On a scale of 0-100 the self-love index was only 53. That means nearly half of people worldwide felt more self-doubt than self-love.

“Hand UP for Women showed me love that I didn’t know existed. With the volunteers nobody expects anything from you,” Brown shared.

With her past trauma Brown always felt like somebody expected something from her. But the organization and God have shown her unconditional love.

“He cherishes each and every one of us. You have to cherish yourself the way God does, and I never understood before,” Brown said.

God also showed Anderson self-love. “I had to learn to love myself before anyone else can,” she explained, “We can go looking for love everywhere, but until we can love ourselves the way we should be loved it’s hard for anyone else to love us.”

The Becoming class was Brown’s favorite class where she learned to not view her past, but rather envision a future. Each day she knew she was embracing steps to become the person she wanted to be, and that person was someone who loved herself unconditionally. She stopped limiting herself the way she felt she previously did. “I can do anything that I want to. That is loving myself, believing in myself,” Brown says.

And they’ve both learned important takeaways through their self-love journey.

Anderson has turned to prayer. Prayers for patience and commitment help her delve deeper into her self-love. It’s a journey that continues to evolve. She also finds joy in reading and learning new things in her books and spending time with her cats.

For this Valentine’s Day Brown doesn’t have to worry about loving someone else when she gets to love on her kids. In her past life, she felt she didn’t get to do that. And that’s who she wants to spend the holiday with the most.

Anderson said, “Women shouldn’t be defined by whether they have a man or not. In an ideal world there’s somebody for everybody. But women must find their own self-worth in themselves rather than everybody else. A man’s love doesn’t make or break us.”

“I’m a hopeless romantic who remembers the love of my grandparents when I cared for them in their final years. As long as I stay faithful to myself and don’t settle for anything less than that true Christian love, I saw them have, I know I will have that someday,” Brown reflects.

Self-love doesn’t develop overnight. It takes time. Finding the right activities that work are key for making your best relationship with yourself. If you know someone who is needing help finding self-love, contact us.