Ah, February—a whole month devoted to love. And just in case you don’t feel very loving, all the pink and red hearts, flowers and kisses are there to remind you at every turn. The umpteen Valentine’s Day ads can undermine our confidence and make us feel as though we aren’t measuring up to all those sweet nothings. These ads are impossible to ignore and if I try to resist what they’re advertising I end up feeling subconsciously that I’m not a good enough wife. That’s a lot of pressure. And this year, the pressure is even greater, as February is my husband and my one-year wedding anniversary. As much as I’d love something sparkly and he’d love a gift from Home Depot, I started to wonder about more meaningful gifts–gifts that could enhance our relationship.
We all know that it can take a lot of work to make a relationship successful, but what we don’t always think about is how the key to a successful partnership might just be in our relationship with ourselves. In other words, the relationship you have with any other person reflects the relationship you have with yourself. What I see most in my life and in my work is that loving yourself can be harder than loving someone else. It’s easier to let go of the faults of others and focus on their positive qualities than it is to ignore our own mistakes and love ourselves.
Why is it so hard to give ourselves a break? Many people spend a lot of time thinking about their inadequacies, dwelling on regrets, and worrying about their ability to succeed in the future. I’ve heard people say that this “tough love” attitude motivates them to make changes, but I disagree. Ruminating on faults or failures sucks the energy out of us and makes it harder to reach our goals. When I procrastinated on exercising in January (click here to read how I was able to meet my goal), my fear of failure was preventing me from taking that first step. So I made a list of my positive qualities and achievements and posted it where I could see it every day. When I caught myself having negative thoughts, I mentally reviewed my list and it became much easier to be in the present moment because I was feeling good about myself.
And I think my list helped me figure out what to get my husband for Valentine’s Day. I decided to focus on loving myself so that I can be more available to love him. I’m still hoping for some bling (hint, hint) and I know he’d like a new power tool, but more importantly, I also hope that he focuses on loving himself, too. What steps are you taking to love yourself and quiet those negative thoughts? This year, whether you’re single, dating, or partnered, make sure to take some time to Be Your Own Valentine.