It’s Valentine’s Day. People are making reservations, shopping for flowers, cards and gifts and putting forth all kinds of effort to recognize the day. February 14th is one day especially that many don’t want to spend alone, doing as much as possible to make sure that it doesn’t go by without them being with somebody special. So much is made of this occasion and, according to Fortune Magazine, consumers will spend $18.2 billion dollars worldwide this year for this one day. $18.2 BILLION DOLLARS!!! Can we say crazy, boys and girls??? I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating love, of course; I am #teamloveandrelationships all day. The problem I have is with the pressure that the over-the-top consumerism puts on everyone to make such a big deal about it. The distorted message is sent that Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day unless a love interest or partner is there to validate it with chocolates or roses. There’s a dangerous line that is crossed on this day or any day when we wait for someone else to make us feel worthy or wanted or desired. The more permanent and lasting work comes when we look inward and find the love for ourselves that we need to increase our own feeling of self-worth. That’s my challenge for today and it doesn’t cost anything!
Love is described in many ways but it most always involves a “feeling.” The problem with feelings, though, is that they’re fickle. They change and they are undependable. And you know what? The same goes for our feelings about ourselves when they are based on such superficial things as whether or not someone recognizes us on this one day out of the year. We have to work EVERY DAY to find a place of self-acceptance that can create space for self-love and self-worth. The definition of love in the Bible in the book of 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 should be the guide for how we love others but we should also apply these guidelines to ourselves.
What Love Is
Love is patient and kind. I don’t know about you but I can be pretty hard on myself sometimes. Because I know the internal struggles I face everyday, hear the ugly thoughts that don’t get verbalized and am all-too-familiar with my own doubts and insecurities, I can allow myself to think that I’m not good enough to do or to be something that I aspire to or that I’m not worthy enough to have something I may want. Does anybody else feel me? Learning to better love myself means allowing for the same grace that I would extend to anybody else: being patient with and kind to myself! Growth is a life-long process and nothing happens overnight. I have to give myself the time to develop into the woman, the PERSON that I want to be! I also have to be kind to the current me that I am by not being self-critical or judging myself too harshly. The same goes for you. You may have issues that you’ve tried to overcome or life-controlling struggles that have been present and at the wheel of your life for way too long. The awesome thing is that it’s never to late to make a change. Once you have identified the problem areas, get to work decreasing their power and presence in your life but don’t try to run before you’re able to walk. See the new you on the other side of the process, holding out a hand to help you cross the threshold and lovingly pace yourself, step-by-step, until you get there. Then rinse, repeat and do it all over again because there should always be another level of ourselves to aspire to.
What Love Is Not
Or does not. Love doesn’t envy and it doesn’t boast. Too often the inability to love ourselves is rooted in envy of others. We see others to be smarter, taller, prettier, more desirable, and the list goes on. Self-acceptance is key to self-love but it’s not always easy to do. We may not be completely happy with our outer appearance. Yes, there is always somebody better looking with nice features or smaller feet or whatever it is that we see as acceptable in others. There are some things we can change about ourselves and some things that we can’t. You were born into the family that you were born into and that, my friends, controls the DNA. You can pay to have a different nose or higher cheekbones or even pump up the volume to better fill out your jeans but the resources spent to go to those lengths still won’t fill the inner vacancy that remains after it’s all said and done. Those, of course, are extreme measures that are most often seen with the rich and famous but the same applies when we spend money we don’t have trying to keep up with what others have or do anything with the motive of trying to impress or out-do because we feel as if we don’t measure up to someone else. Identify the things you like about yourself: how good of a cook you are, how well you’re able to make and keep friends, your leadership qualities — whatever they may be, accentuate the positive and see the value in what you bring to the table. And then work on the areas that may be lacking. Learn some make-up tips and contour that nose! 🙂 But please, when you find your oh-so-wonderful self and fall in love, don’t be boastful or arrogant about it. You do a disservice by behaving in such a way and that is not representative of loving yourself.
Love also doesn’t keep any record of wrongs. On the journey to self-love, you may have made decisions or shown behaviors that didn’t honor yourself in the best way. As a result, you may walk through life with regrets or shame, causing you to look down on and have a low opinion of yourself. That only perpetuates the cycle as we tend to attract what we think we are or deserve. We have to know that EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES. What differentiates some from others is that the consequences are more lasting and bear much more weight. Stop recounting every misstep you’ve had and thinking any one of them is worse than what “he” or “she” did or didn’t do and learn to forgive yourself! Do the work of finding out why you tripped up in the first place so you can forgive yourself, learn the lesson and then keep it moving and help somebody else. There’s a freedom in owning your story and sharing it on your own terms. The shame comes in the secrecy but no one can hold it over your head, including you, when your mistakes are used for someone else’s benefit.
What Love Does
Love always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Offering healthy love to someone else includes first establishing healthy boundaries. Love that is unstable or inconsistent breeds insecurity and mistrust, among other things, and makes setting boundaries a challenge. Many times the foundational love that should have come from parents or family was lacking and started the path of dysfunction and emptiness that created the space that we have tried to use others to fill; and someone who is starving will eat pretty much anything! Though there is no changing family history or experience, it is incumbent upon us to trace our issues back to their root so we can cut them off and stop them from growing and taking over our lives. Have you ever seen the roots of a really large tree? They grow as the tree does through the years and spread more and more to anchor the tree to the ground in which it is planted. Roots of unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, etc., are the same in us. The longer we allow them to grow, the deeper they become and the more they take over our lives. We have to learn to protect ourselves by emptying ourselves of the hurt, anger, etc., that has been poured on or into us. We have to trust that God created us as worthy, wonderful, lovable individuals and that we can put our hope in Him for lives that are good and happy and fulfilling.
Finally, the most awesome thing of all is that love perseveres! We can fully expect once we start the process of walking through our hurts, tragedies, disappointments that the love we accept for ourselves will last and will be enough to sustain us for whatever lies ahead. Now one last thing. Look in the mirror or give yourself a hug or just say the words out loud to yourself: Will You Be My Valentine? And then do something really sweet for the new love of your life. You!