Growing up, most of us were taught to work hard and respect others. ‘Tiger’ parenting and ‘kiasu’ culture pushed some of us into the direction of high-ranking universities and reputable companies, with no regard for our mental health. As millennials, the relentless pressure to succeed continued in adulthood with the rise of hustle culture on social media (being busy is now considered ‘glamorous’).

We’ve spent almost our entire lives listening to others, and comparing ourselves to others, when we should actually be prioritising ourselves. Boundaries can help us do this – they protect our health and wellbeing, and provide us with a sense of self. It’s not going to be easy, and you will feel guilty at first, but here’s why we must allocate time and space for ourselves: 

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are the rules we create to protect our needs. They can be applied within our relationships, career, and even online to communicate our limits and ensure our safety.

Why do we need boundaries?

How can we set boundaries?

  1. Identify your limits

What makes you feel uncomfortable? Check in with your body as well – what makes you tense up?

  1. Be assertive

When it comes to communicating your limits, be direct, but avoid being aggressive. Use ‘I’ statements, such as, “I feel overwhelmed when the house is a mess because I already spend so much time cleaning it. What I need is help to keep it clean”. This allows you to express your feelings without blaming anyone.

  1. Give yourself permission to say no

It can be hard to say “no”, especially in Malaysia where there is a face-saving culture. Let go of the fear of looking selfish or coming off as rude – you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

  1. Develop a support system

Boundaries take determination. If you’re having a hard time with them, turn to your family and friends for support – you can practice asserting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.

When we’re able to define our boundaries, we’re able to have more respect for ourselves. Boundaries can protect us from physical and emotional intrusion, and empower us to make healthy choices and take responsibility for ourselves. Setting boundaries is a process, but don’t let fear and guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself!

With love comes hate, even on Valentine’s Day. You’re either all for the love-fest, celebrating it with your special someone, or against it – rolling your eyes at every heart-shaped reminder. Despite what many people believe, you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to embrace a day dedicated to love. Celebrate your friends, your family, and even yourself! After all, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one with yourself.

We tend to shy away from self-love because we’re afraid of coming off as vain, but as self-care becomes normalised (finally!), self-love is becoming the new #relationshipgoals. Shower yourself with the same love you give others! Make it rain because love isn’t just for those with someone to love. Even if you are in a relationship, loving yourself can help you be a better partner and set healthy boundaries.

Kickstart your self-love journey this Valentine’s Day with stories from these inspiring individuals!

 

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A post shared by Bay (@baydoucet)

“Self-love is so important because you can’t pour from an empty cup. I believe to truly be able to love and care for others, we have to first love and care for ourselves. I think self-love is also important so that we don’t seek validation and affirmation from external sources. You are complete on your own, and truly loving yourself eliminates a lot of the unnecessary expectations we tend to put onto our romantic partners.”

Bay Doucet is Instagram’s ‘Self-Care Sweetheart’! Her calming, aesthetic, fun-filled feed showcases the graphic designer genuinely expressing herself, and documenting her life as a content creator, model and writer as well. What we love about Bay is that she always keeps it real, especially on her Instagram Stories where she shares her honest feelings and the truth about self-care.

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

When did you start you self-love journey?

How do you practice self-love?

Connect with Bay on Instagram where she shares her favourite local brands, cat-mom life and other daily musings!

 

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“Self-love is important because to be the best, in anything, we have to love ourselves first. Other people can’t always help us when we’re in difficult situations – sometimes in life we will only have ourselves.”

We were first captivated by Hikmah Razlan when she was featured as one of the beauties in BeauTyra’s campaign. The model turned content creator uses her social media feed for good – inspiring confidence and compassion in others with her bright smile and positive attitude. What we love about Hikmah is the heartfelt letters she writes to herself in her captions, proving that when you’re your biggest fan, no one can bring you down!

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

When did you start you self-love journey?

How do you practice self-love?

Follow Himkah on Instagram for product reviews and all-round good vibes!

 

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A post shared by Catherhea Potjanaporn (@catherhea)

“When you love yourself, you start wanting better for yourself, and you make better choices for yourself. You advocate for your needs and boundaries, which empowers you as an individual to not only show up for yourself, but for others too.”

You’ve probably come across one of Catherhea Teoh‘s powerful portraits on social media. The photographer and activist is known for capturing the beauty of diversity and directing the spotlight on underrepresented communities in Malaysia (she even won an MTV EMA award for this!). What we love about Catherhea is her dedication to growth – she actively shares what she’s learning, unlearning and relearning on her Instagram Stories.

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

When did you start you self-love journey?

How do you practice self-love?

If you’re looking for a photographer or content creator, check out Catherhea’s ‘MCO’ promotion here – it’s specially designed for small business owners!

 

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A post shared by J E S L I N D A 👑 (@jeslindaaa)

“In a society where everyone wants you to be someone you are not, cultivating self-love gives you the courage to be authentically and unapologetically you.”

Jeslinda Paul is on a mission to bring awareness towards the disabled in Malaysia by sharing her recovery and self-love journey! The model and Persons With Disabilities advocate is not afraid to be herself on social media, reminding everyone how special they are through her Instagram posts. What we love about Jeslinda is how empowering her feed is to help others feel just as strong and confident as she does.

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

When did you start you self-love journey?

How do you practice self-love?

For more content on self-love, mindfulness and gratitude, follow Jeslinda on Instagram!

 

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A post shared by Von (@von115)

“Self-love gives me courage and confidence. It is also an act of self-respect, appreciation and acceptance. When I truly love myself, I no longer care about what others talk about me or how they see me. I’m the only one that matters. It makes me happier and healthier.”

Von Chong‘s been taking TikTok by storm with her fashion-forward looks! The content creator shares her confidence, advice, and daily adventures on social media to empower others and herself. What we love about Von is how welcoming she is, making her the ultimate TikTok bestie and go-to for Instagram fashion inspo!

What are 5 things you love about yourself?

When did you start you self-love journey?

How do you practice self-love?

Follow Von on Instagram and TikTok for style advice and fashion inspiration!

Have you ever found yourself wondering why you keep attracting the wrong people? Are you the type who struggles to stay single or does the thought of commitment make you want to crack open a window for some air? These traits actually stem from your relationship attachment style.

Our attachment styles go way back to our first long-term relationship – the emotional bond we develop (or are deprived of) with our parents and caregivers. We’ve all been raised differently, depending on the attachment styles of those who raised us and the way they addressed our emotional needs. These early experiences of emotional relationships influence the way we view love and relate to others. It forms the attachment styles we carry into adulthood and express in both romantic and platonic relationships.

According to research based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory, there are four general relationship attachment styles:

Confident in their relationship and their partner, someone with a secure attachment style is not afraid to reciprocate love. They are trusting, trustworthy, and are able to communicate their feelings as a response instead of a reaction.

Those with an anxious attachment style are codependent, requiring constant attention and reassurance from their partners. They fear being alone and struggle with setting or respecting boundaries.

Individuals with an avoidant attachment style are independent and self-reliant, downplaying the importance of relationships. They are emotionally-distant and tend to isolate themselves during conflict.

A combination of anxious and avoidant, someone with a fearful attachment style craves intimacy but fears rejection. In turn, they send mixed signals by pushing their partners away while still wanting a connection.

Don’t feel bad about having an insecure attachment style – if it was caused by trauma, please remember that it is not your fault. By understanding your attachment style, or your partner’s, you’ll be able to start healing by actively changing the way you approach love and relationships. It’s not going to be easy, but a healthy attachment style can help you build more positive relationships with yourself and others.

 

In China, 11.11 is recognised as ‘Singles’ Day’ – an unofficial holiday that honours being single with empowering events and celebrations. What started out as a university tradition, has now grown into the biggest shopping day in the world with exclusive discounts and offers for you to spoil yourself like it’s Valentine’s Day. All of these deals can act as a reminder that you can show yourself love – you don’t need anyone else to. But alas, we know how tough breakups can be, especially during a time where you’re either stuck together or left completely alone to recover – quarantine breakups have been harder to cope with.

If you’re recently single, here are three tips for reinvesting in yourself after a breakup:

  1. Choose yourself
    It’s time to start prioritising yourself – move on to a healthier relationship with…yourself. If you find yourself wanting closure, it’s totally normal, but if you’re still hurting – those conversations won’t be that helpful, and may even make things harder. Focus on yourself instead and take this time to connect with your wants and needs. You would be there for a friend during a breakup, right? So show up for yourself! You have more energy now to give to yourself, as well as attention.
  2. Remember who you were
    We are constantly changing, and being changed by everything and everyone around us. When getting into a relationship, your priorities will naturally shift along with your interests – less nights out at the club, more day trips to the grocery store. Remember who you were before your relationship – what were your goals, what did you enjoy doing. Rediscover what you liked to do and try out the things you’ve always wanted to.
  3. Focus on growth
    Unlearn any bad habits you developed during the relationship. Did you find it difficult to set boundaries? Or maybe it affected your self-esteem. This is your chance to focus on yourself and your future. Start setting goals, they can be as small as repeating positive affirmations in front of the mirror everyday to securing a set amount of clients by the end of the month. Use your free time to join an online course, read, journal, workout, or listen to podcasts. Be hopeful for what the future holds, and start hyping yourself up!

Don’t be discouraged if you still find yourself having bad days – we all experience them. Healing is not linear. You’ll have good days, but it’s important to not ignore what you’ve lost and give yourself permission to grieve. When you’re properly healing, you don’t forget the pain but instead work with it to truly overcome it.