01/31/2013 01:58 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2013

Are You Kind Enough to Yourself?

With Valentine's Day almost here, it's important to keep in mind that the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. But many of us are so busy taking care of our family, colleagues and friends that our own self-care is relegated to the bottom of the list. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to make our needs a top priority.

How do we do that? Here are some ideas:

Let people know what you really want.
There are few excuses for poor behavior, and there are those who may try to get back into our good graces by buying us off. "Don't bring me chocolates, be more considerate of my needs instead." Hold others accountable for their actions, and don't let them off the hook so easily.

Nurture yourself when you are spread too thin.
Say NO to things you don't have to do. And rearrange your calendar with some time for yourself. Wouldn't you find time for a close friend in need? Well, now that close friend is you. Treat yourself with the care you give other people.

Crush guilt and self-doubt.
Many of us doubt ourselves way too much. And guilt is useless altogether. It only serves to zap our energy. When you begin to second-guess yourself or feel a guilt attack coming on, STOP and ask yourself this question: Is this true? And then answer it. "No!"

Treat yourself with kindness.
If you are not used to doing this, act "as if" you are. This is the time to honor all you've gone through and the person you've become. If you need some bolstering, use a reflection at the beginning of the day. Take five minutes to think about its meaning each morning. Something like: "I am confident that I can handle whatever challenge is before me."