Valentine’s Day is all about loving your main squeeze- there’s an entire day devoted to fawning over your loved one, buying them special gifts, taking them on dates, and stuffing them with chocolate (hey, I guess it’s not all that bad). There’s one thing that we need to focus on though, before we start devoting our money and time to others…and it is ourselves.
I mean, how can you TRULY, DEEPLY, and FAITHFULLY love another human being, when you can’t love yourself?
How can you look past their mistakes and take them as they are, if you can’t do that for YOU?
Have you been able to love yourself truly, deeply, and faithfully?
Can you accept yourself, despite the flaws? Because if you can’t, I guarantee you will struggle accepting the flaws of others.
Self love is a subject that is casually overlooked. It seems to only be used while selling contradictory messages of objects. “Love yourself…in these new khaki slacks!” while women parade around, showing how much they love themselves.
This isn’t true self-love…it’s vanity.
True love is gritty- it’s real and it’s raw and it hurts. True love takes work. True love, in every fiber of it’s being, is accepting EVERYTHING. All of the mistakes, the ups and the downs, the super happy fun times and the miserable fucking mornings.
I struggled for a long time with this. Having a horrible history of drug abuse before I had my twins in 2004, I had a really hard time with accepting all of my baggage as I dove into motherhood, head first. I was hung up on all the things I had done previously, and I felt completely unworthy of my own love, as well as the love from my partner and friends. It made it difficult to be a mother, because I was still punishing myself for all the things I did wrong…all of my “mistakes.”
Did you know that humans are the only creatures that punish themselves multiple times for the same offense? When an animal makes a mistake, they move on and it never comes up again. The lions aren’t guilt tripping themselves because they ate too much gazelle. But humans, we like to revisit the past in our minds, and we punish ourselves over and over. We relive these painful memories, and we lower our self worth because of things that we feel like we did wrong in our past.
Recommended Reading: The Four Agreements
Look, I’m going to tell you right now that you are going to make some bad fucking decisions in your life…it happens. You’re a human being for goodness sake! However, if we can look at these as our “miss takes” instead of fuck ups, we are one step closer to experiencing self love and freedom from the mental chains that bind us.
I had to do this with myself. For a long time, I avoided talking about my past, especially when it came to my blog. I was pretty ashamed of my life, and I didn’t want people to know that I had let drugs and alcohol run the show for so long.
Recently though…something finally clicked. I realized that those raw and gritty moments were not something to run from…but to EMBRACE. Those times taught me some pretty valuable lessons, and I’m glad that I was able to experience it, no matter how painful it was in the moment. It made me who I am today, and it helped me appreciate the good times in my life, because I know what the contrast is.
By changing this one shift in perspective, I started to experience REAL self-love. I was finally able to look at myself and say, “Yes, I’ve done these things, I’ve made mistakes, but I take full responsibility for them, and I forgive myself for doing so.”
Furthermore, I realized that a lot of these things had stemmed from the trauma I went through in my youth. Is it fair for me to hold this much angst against the me from the past, the one who was doing the best she could, the one that was struggling with addiction and recovery, and the one who had not yet reached a level of maturity to make better choices?
No, it’s not fair and it’s defeating to be mad at myself for these things. I am now able to see that I was doing the best I could, with the information I had at the time and my maturity level. And I can move forward knowing that I love myself, and that I’m good enough.
I can also make better decisions in the future, because I have learned from my past.
So if you are struggling with the skeletons in your closet, just imagine for a moment what it would feel like to drop the animosity you have towards yourself, and just start to LOVE yourself instead.
Wouldn’t that be great???
If you’re struggling to love yourself, a good practice is to write a letter to your past self. Write down all the things that you wish you could have done differently. Then try to find the positive that came out of these experiences. I know this can be difficult, especially if you’ve suffered from extreme trauma. In this case, you may want to pair up with a counselor to help walk you through it.
This is easier said than done, but it brings you one step closer to facing your past and accepting all the parts of your story. There is always a silver lining. There’s always a way to bring light to the darkness.
What’s more, is that when we start to love ourselves, naturally we become more lovable to others. It’s like they can sense peace from you, instead of anxiety and fear. When you love yourself, you don’t get too caught up in what other people say about you, because you have your own approval, and that’s good enough. We become confident. We become compassionate. We become REAL.
So please, drop the grudge against yourself. This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the opportunity to love YOU…and the rest will fall into place.