Not feeling the self-loving this winter? You’re not alone. I decided to draft a checklist to keep my relationship with myself firmly on track…

When I first mooted the concept for this article I thought it was going to be an easy one. The first thing that came into my head was the lyrics to “The Greatest Love Of All” – where Whitney Housten warbles “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” The line Whits took little notice of considering she went on to lose her stunning looks, awesome voice and by all accounts her god zillions when she spiraled into drug addiction and a toxic marriage.

I was then reminded of the line in Sex in the City where Carrie intones that “the greatest relationship you have is the one you have with yourself.” This worried me because the relationship I have with myself lurches from one drama and crisis to another – married together with a bottle of vino. If it involved another human being I would caution against anyone getting involved and run for the hills… quickly! My rules for loving myself includes drinking copious amounts of the best wine I can afford several times a week, a giant tub of Ben and Jerries and/or Krispy Kremes – all varieties.

So repeating the line “you have to love yourself before you can love someone else,” I decided to draft a checklist to keep my relationship with myself firmly on track. Who knows, this might just work when everything else has failed. I needed some help so I put out a plea for rules for some self-loving to my friends and acquaintances – 27 of them didn’t reply. One said he couldn’t think of a single rule as he was too cynical and  tired, another said she was trying to figure the whole love thing out full stop and didn’t have time think about loving herself as she was too busy loving everyone else and getting nowhere. One was drunk and didn’t make an awful lot of sense, while another mentioned something brilliant but unprintable for this publication!

That left me with just three of my closest friends. We spent the best part of an hour discussing the best possible actions that would improve our admittedly dismal outlook on life – pretty deep, eh? It seemed that every problem required it own set of guidelines, and there wasn’t a fixed opinion on the matter. The problems I faced, for instance, revolved around the time I’d wasted with all the wrong men – all kinds it seemed: the liars, cheaters, those who viewed me as some sort of “project” that they could fix. One charming “ex” even presented me with an annual gym membership for my birthday. “You really know how to make a girl feel special,” I’d mocked. He shrugged off the comment with: “Yes, I do and now you can feel extra special.” What a load of tosh!

The other girls described more pressing issues about body confidence, which I’m sure many of you will regrettably relate to? It’s well known that women feel pressure to look a certain way, conform to unrealistic standards of “beauty” and drop a size all to fit into some godforsaken dress. Unfortunately, for some of us, these thoughts consume our lives and can make day-to-day living extremely painful. “My weight definitely holds me back. It’s difficult watching guys swoon over my friends when I’m the third wheel, sat watching from the sidelines,” explained one girl.

So, in an attempt to end this mindless battle and start loving ourselves instead, here are the best of the rest. See what we’ve come up with:

1)  Flaunt your flaws! If you can embrace those, you can embrace anything – (having said that, if your flaw is a broken tooth it’s probably best you get that seen to.)

2) Don’t compare yourself with others, be unique! We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to some Hollywood scarlet who undoubtedly has been airbrushed or surgically  enhanced.

3) Surround yourself with nice things and people who bring out the best in you.

4) Decide what suits you, stick with it and make the most of what you’ve got.

5) Stay healthy and drink plenty of water, take time to relax and get lots of sleep – shine on the inside and out.

6) Praise yourself (this is a very popular one with the internet and self help books – see “Excuse me your life is waiting” a powerful book that has undoubtedly changed how I perceive myself and the way my life is controlled today!

So there you have it, my very own rules of positivity. You may have our own set, you may agree with those ones, but if there’s anything I learnt while dreaming up these is the importance of having a set – even if you don’t follow them. After all, what are rules there for if not to be broken?

And, one last point… always remember to LOVE YOURSELF!