Loving Yourself First this Valentine's

Ahhh Valentine's day - the consumerist holiday founded to get you to spend money between Christmas and Easter.  The day that brings back dreaded memories of being skipped over for carnation delivery in Algebra class (shout out “Mean Girl” fans!)

The struggle: 

Let's be real - Valentine's day can suck whether you're single or in a relationship…the impossibility of getting a restaurant reservation, the tacky gifts, the overall general corniness.

If you are single, the day can make you feel lonely.  You may feel like everyone assumes you are sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.  If you are in a relationship, it’s a reason to stress the F out.  You feel the pressure of planning the perfect day because, if not, your SO might think you don't love them as much as their coworker’s who got three dozen roses and a scavenger hunt. You inevitably have the expectation that your boo is planning the most thoughtful day ever and if they don't follow through with your vision you will, without a doubt, be disappointed. It's a lose, lose! 

The solution

Love yo-self first!  OK, I know that can be a bit cliche, but self-care and self-acceptance can go a long way when it comes to general happiness.  V-Day is all about that someone special in your life - why can't that someone be YOU!? The fact is we often treat others better than we treat ourselves. Do you berate your friends like that?  No?  Then why should you treat yourself that way? Be mindful of the words and tone you use with yourself.  If you answered an embarrassed "ugh sometimes I do" to that question, quieting the self-ridicule will help quiet that negative inner voice that so quickly jumps to ridicule others. 

The key to self-love is self-compassion.  It is recognizing that you are an incredibly complex person who is OK just the way you are (single or coupled).  It does not mean you have to quit growing as a person or taking responsibility for your actions.  It just means recognizing you have flaws and weaknesses, like everyone, but you accept yourself regardless.  If you make a mistake - be kind, forgive yourself, and decide to do better next time.  Don't beat yourself endlessly.  Doing so allows you to connect deeply with your authentic self - a self deserving of love and respect. 

You won't get that through a box of candy hearts and an over-sized teddy bear.

The science: 

Self-love can be hard.  Like real hard.  We all have a negativity bias ingrained in us over millennia to help us perceive threats more easily. Our past scars become psychological defenses constantly trying to protect us so we might not feel shame or emotional distress again. The reality is we are all doing the best we can given what has been ingrained in us from our childhoods, our own life experiences, our past relationships, our biology, and what we believe about ourselves in that given moment. The harsh self-criticism will only get you trapped in a negative feedback loop, inevitably losing confidence and sabotaging yourself.  So, why not be kinder to yourself?  You are doing the best you can! 

In Conclusion:

Loving yourself will improve your self esteem, your self-confidence, and overall happiness - regardless of what relationship state you are in.

If you are in a good relationship, recognize your partner is with you because they love you every day- not just February 14th!  Greater self-love will only deepen your connection with your person.  

If you are in a tense relationship, take a look inward.  Changing your relationship with yourself can change your relationships with others.  Connection provides meaning and purpose to our lives, and you are worthy of love and belonging. 

If you are single, being in a relationship doesn't define you. You are so much more than someone else's partner. Loving yourself first will set you up to be in a healthy happy relationship and put those positive vibes out in the universe to attract someone deserving of your love!

 Happy Self Love…errrr…Valentine's Day to you all!