we're one month into the New Year. How are you
doing? Do you feel "new"? Did you make any
resolutions? Did you break them yet? And here
comes Valentine's Day right around the
many, this holidy is truly a joyous occasion--an
opportunity to make that little (or big) extra
effort to show someone you really care, you really
love 'em. For others, it's a dreaded day: whether
you don't have a "significant" other, you're going
through relationship "challenges," or you just
can't seem to get on board with the whole
"Hallmark" feel of it. When was the last
time you took yourself on a date?
it possible the best indicator of whether
Valentine's Day--or any day for that matter--is a
joyful opportunity to love is: have I loved
myself first? We've all paid lip
service to the platitude "you have to love
yourself before you love someone else." But do we
really believe it? Do we really live it? Or
do we live like the famous line in "Jerry
Maguire"--waiting for someone to "complete me"?
But "I love him/her more than I love myself." Does
that sound noble... or sad?
not speaking as someone who has mastered
self-love. I'm speaking as a fellow journeyer.
I've been married almost five years now and, I can
tell you, keeping love alive isn't always easy.
I'm also recognizing that I really want to learn
to love others more deeply and to receive others'
love more deeply. If you're like me and you've
ever had trouble taking a compliment, accepting
help, or letting love in, it's likely there some
residue of unworthiness lodged in our hearts,
keeping us from fully loving ourselves and,
therefore, from fully loving one
use the term "significant other." What about
"significant self"? Sounds funny, doesn't it? As
if to love ourselves still sounds conceited,
self-centered, and narcissitic. I like the saying
"I am my only life partner." In essence, I am
married to myself whether I like it or
not--there's no real divorcing myself--so I might
as well continue to work on this primary
relationship with me... while I continue to offer
the best I have of my love to others. There's also
the saying "we are all one, we're all connected."
To the degree I embrace this as true, it seems to
follow as a goal or intention to treat others as I
would like to be treated and
not taught much about self-love or self-care. Our
bodies, minds and spirits are truly temples.
Nobody's perfect. I don't love myself perfectly
and I haven't yet loved anybody else perfectly--if
I'm perfectly honest. But I'm really starting to
get that the degree to which I can love anybody
unconditionally is largely contingent on how able
I am to love myself unconditionally. Even when it
seems I treat others better than I treat myself,
it has often felt as if I've tried to love someone
hard enough to make myself feel good enough,
worthy of their love. It's a sad but common game.
Actually, I've heard it said that the phrase
"unconditional love" is redundant: love, by
definition, is unconditional... anything else is
of my other favorite aphorisms is by Peter Rengel
from his book "Living Life in Love": "Loving
yourself is accepting yourself, especially when
you are not accepting yourself." Take
addictions, for example. Who would deny that at
some level, addictions are a form of
self-destruction, self-punishment, self-hatred?
Certainly, we fall into these cycles and have
great challenges, pulling themselves out even when
we are hurting and claim to want help. But, I
believe, what keeps us from stopping smoking,
overeating, overdrinking, overspending--you name
it--is that the fuel for our madness hasn't yet
been siphoned out of our tanks; that fuel, deep
down, is self-loathing. And the more I hate myself
for falling into an addiction in the first place,
the more my addiction gets a stranglehold on me.
asking for help is the key because someone can
lend a hand and remind me I am loveable and assist
me in my journey toward greater self-acceptance
and self-love. If I am accepting and loving myself
at a high level, it is unlikely I would do
anything to harm myself physically, emotionally,
financially, and spiritually.
might just take note of the ways in which we
recognize we aren't loving ourselves.
The point isn't to further beat up on ourselves
but, to take honest account of where we're out of
integrity. Again, be ready to share with someone
or ask for help. Ultimately, the best gift we can
give ourselves and our loved ones is taking good
care of ourselves. We know this is
this Valentine's Day, I plan on doing something
special for my wife to let her know I love her. Of
course, I hope she knows that already--the holiday
is just another opportunity to be creative in
expressing it. But even before I put my focus on
her, I am already checking in with how I'm loving
me. I am giving myself the gift of exercise,
eating well, taking down time, asking for help
when needed, easing up on my perfectionism, and
just patting myself on the back for being a good
person at heart. I'm also planning on giving
myself some kind of little treat for Valentine's
Day to "pay myself first," to fill my tank full of
love so that it spills over to others.
encourage each of us to send ourselves a Valentine