More than flowers or chocolates or glittering jewelry, more than a fancy date or even someone to spend the holiday with, there is one thing I've learned that we all need the most this holiday season: love. Self-love, to be exact.
You see, I've had Valentine's Days when I've excitedly looked forward to gifts and a romantic evening with my significant other. I've also had years where I've tried to ignore the holiday and happy couples around me while poignantly feeling my single-ness. And I've learned an important lesson. More than anything else this holiday season, we need to learn to love ourselves. Not in an egotistical way, but in an accepting way.
When we don't love ourselves, we cannot fully accept love from others. We diminish our own worth and settle for less than we deserve. The way we feel about ourselves and treat ourselves, can have a great impact on how others view and treat us. So, if you want a more meaningful relationship with your special someone, increase your self-love. If you're single and wanting more love in your life, start with yourself.
Here are four important tips to develop your self-love.
1. Accept yourself as you are.
Overweight, too big a nose, not talented enough, not successful enough -- we all have a list of things we don't like about ourselves or want to change. That's normal and can be very healthy to our personal development, or it can be destructive to our happiness and success.
Learn to think of yourself as a work in progress. You are working toward who and what you want to be, and you are not a failure for not being there, yet. Take a few minutes every day for self-affirmation. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are worth it. Point out your talents and skills and beauty. Accept that you are a valuable person who is learning and growing.
2. Realize you don't need someone else to complete you.
For a long time, I equated my value with others opinion of me. It affected every part of my life -- how I dressed, how I acted, even the types of activities I would do. It took time to finally realize the truth -- that people will love you or hate you. They will come and go in your life, by choice or by circumstance. But you can be happy all on your own.
Embrace the good in you and what you have to offer the world. Embrace the good relationships you do have with family, neighbors, or friends. Give of yourself and your talents. When you give love and care to others in the world, you receive it back.
3. Be kind to yourself.
How do you talk to yourself when things go wrong or you make a mistake? Are you berating yourself, or do you accept it and learn from it? Do you take good care of yourself, or do you ignore your wants and needs for someone or something else? I did all of these things for a long time before I learned a better way.
Self-abuse diminishes our personal strength and happiness. If you are harsh and critical of yourself, stop it! When things go wrong, take a deep breath, evaluate, and move on. Take care of yourself and what you need. If you give all of yourself away, you have nothing left to go on. Spoil yourself now and then because you are worth it.
4. Accept what others give.
When someone gives you a compliment, do you defer or cut yourself down? Or do you accept it and believe what they say? For a long time, I couldn't handle a compliment. I didn't think I deserved any. I would make a self-critical remark, or I'd tell myself they didn't know the real me or were being insincere.
Not only is that rude to others and can be damaging to relationships, it's destructive to your self-esteem. Allow yourself to accept a compliment and say thank you. It's not seeking validation, it is simply allowing yourself to believe that there is good in you and that others can see and appreciate it.
When you learn to love and accept yourself, you'll find you have far more love and happiness in your life than ever before. So treat yourself to something nice this Valentine's Day, and remember that you have value. You are worth it.