Valentine's Day is around the corner and advertisements abound with ideas for your loved one. Chocolates, jewelry, greetings cards and flowers are the ingredients for a perfect day...for your beloved. Shower them with presents so they know how you feel. That's fine, but what about you?
YOU are the only person you will never leave, and who will never leave you.
Think about it. Spouses, children, family and friends come and go. Some leave by choice; others due to the natural order of things. Sometimes it's your choice; sometimes it's theirs. Even when there is deep love, people don't (or can't) stick around. My parents adored each other, but my mother died in 2005 leaving my father alone until he passed last year. My point is that you can't depend on other people for YOUR happiness.
So, what about you? Where does your happiness, your joy come from?
For years, I twisted myself into a pretzel to be what others wanted me to be. I had no sense of self, and all of my self-worth came from them. If they were happy, I was happy. Once I realized that my priorities were skewed, I changed.
I learned about boundaries and self-care. I learned how to detach from others' attitudes and actions. I learned to trust myself and my God. It's not always easy and I still make lots of mistakes, but I have made great strides in the area of self-love.
I started with self-acceptance. Since I was pretty much last on my list of people I liked (much less loved), I started with little things. Like my fingernails. I have great fingernails. They're strong. They rarely break, and never split or crack. They look fabulous whether I have on polish or not. It was a good place to begin.
Self-acceptance had to include more than just my fingernails, however. I had to embrace everything about myself -- the yucky bits as well as my fingernails. I had to accept myself, warts and all (that's a metaphor...I don't have warts!), if I was going to achieve self-love. I learned this from my children. I knew I loved them completely, without reservation or hesitation. I didn't always like their actions, but I loved them. The same way God loves me. When I accept myself as I am, I honor God's creation.
As my self-acceptance grew, I became more ME; I wasn't worried about what others thought I should be. I wasn't always sure what ME liked or needed (after the pretzel years), so I asked for spiritual guidance and trusted my gut. I experimented, learned about my likes and dislikes, and then valued them. My self-love grew as I respected and celebrated my life, my body, and my choices.
I am perfectly imperfect...and that's just fine with me.
The result of all this work on self-acceptance has paid off in spades. I love myself and my life. I know, without a doubt, that I am a precious and unique being. I am loved without measure; I am at peace, regardless of the circumstances around me.
This Valentine's Day (and every day, for that matter), be your own valentine. Treat yourself as you would your beloved. Care for yourself with the honor and respect you deserve. Accept yourself -- ALL of you. Then act like you mean it. After all, YOU will be with YOU for a long, long time!
Where are YOU on your list of people you love? First, last or somewhere in between? Do you accept, respect and love yourself? If not, what can you do to change that? How can you make yourself a priority?
Have you been there?