“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” ~Oscar Wilde
Is February 14 a happy or a sad occasion for you?
At different stages of your life, you've probably experienced one feeling or the other. If you don't have a romantic partner, or you've recently experienced a break-up or divorce, Valentine's Day can be a cruel reminder of loneliness and loss.
I hope this Valentine's Day is a happy one for you during which you are able to celebrate love, if not with a romantic partner, at least with children or friends. Many people bring love into our lives, and all love should be celebrated and gratefully acknowledged.
I have suffered my share of ups and downs on Valentine's Day. I've indulged in a few pity parties and whine-fests on my “off” years without romance or even the hope of it on the horizon.
It has taken many years, but over time I've learned there is one steadfast love — one love that can last a lifetime if you embrace it. It's the love you have for yourself.
I hope this doesn't sound too hokey, because I firmly believe that self-love is absolutely essential to living happily and with self-confidence. In fact, you cannot fully receive and experience love from others until you are capable of loving yourself.
“You can explore the universe looking for somebody who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and you will not find that person anywhere.” ~Buddhist Saying
What does self-love mean?
Self-love is not . . .
- narcissistic or vain
- self-centered or egocentric
- smug or self-righteous
- conceited or prideful
Self-love does involve . . .
- really liking the person you are
- the ability to enjoy your own company
- accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all
- a willingness to grow and change and learn from others
- the ability to forgive yourself and move on
- the awareness of how to treat yourself tenderly
- the capacity to love others fully and unconditionally
- the self-confidence to create appropriate boundaries
- the desire to take care of your health and your body
- the willingness to find balance in life and work
- taking the time to learn your values and life passions
- the self-esteem to know your essential goodness
- the self-confidence to acknowledge your talents and abilities
- the certainty that love is always available to you, that love is everywhere
There are probably more people in this world who do not have self-love than those who do. There are probably more people who look in the mirror and see ugliness, who think about themselves and feel shame, who see the glaring humiliation of past failures or unmet expectations.
This is so very sad, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we don't love ourselves, it becomes evident in our words, our posture, our moods, our behaviors, and our interactions. In turn, all of these contribute to the picture of a person who is unhappy and difficult to be around. Therefore, success and love continue to be elusive, driving one further into despair and self-loathing.
Is it possible to get out of this cycle and on a path to self-love. I know that it is. Believing that you are worthy of your own love is not only possible, it is the most honorable and productive endeavor you can ever undertake. Self-love is the key to your happiness and success in life.
“I don't like myself; I'm crazy about myself.” ~Mae West
Here are some thoughts to get started on the path to self-love . . .
- If you are wounded, suffering from past trauma or emotional difficulties, then it shows self-love to go to a counselor or other helping professional to begin the healing process.
- If you hate your appearance, then it shows self-love to really “see” the beautiful parts of yourself, to acknowledge the wonder of your body, and to take care of your appearance.
- If you are unhealthy, then it shows self-love to go to the doctor, to learn about healthy and nutritious eating, to begin a small and manageable exercise routine.
- If you are lonely, then it shows self-love to initiate a friendship, to get a pet, to reach out to someone else who is lonely, and to focus on the joys of spending time with yourself.
- If you lack self-confidence, then it shows self-love to remind yourself of your unique gifts and abilities, to try something new just to show yourself you can, to establish boundaries with people who attempt to control or manipulate you.
- If you feel guilt or shame, then it shows self-love to ask for forgiveness, to consciously let it go, to remind yourself of the beauty of being imperfect even as you strive to improve.
- If you feel unloved, then it shows self-love to offer love completely and unconditionally to someone else, to serve and give of yourself without expectation, to remind yourself of all those whose lives you have touched.
This Valentine's Day, you might be giving and receiving cards and flowers, going out to a special dinner, or you might be sitting home by yourself. Either way, don't forget the one love who is most deserving of your tenderness and affirmation — your beloved self. You would be nothing without you!
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If you are struggling with issues of lack of self-love or low self-confidence, I invite you to check out Simple Self-Confidence: 30 Days to Personal Empowerment.