The other day I walked into Target and, after stumbling upon my favorite seasonal candy (those chalky, candy conversation hearts—YUM!), I realized that the “season of love” is officially upon us! Now, I know Valentine’s Day can kick off some pretty polarizing discussions among different groups of people: Is it a real holiday? Should you “celebrate” with your significant other? Does it warrant any gift exchanges? Should you un-celebrate if you’re single?
But, what’s noticeably missing from all the Valentines Day marketing and debate is any mention of how I can best love myself this season. Whether you’re single, in a committed relationship, or toeing the gray line of “it’s complicated”—been there, suffered through that—making time and space to show yourself some true love shouldn’t be forgotten this month. With that in mind, here are four ways we can show ourselves some love in the days to come.
1) Reflecting on what makes you special / unique / proud.
For the longest time, I really struggled to pinpoint what I’m good at, what it is that makes me special, what makes my existence and placement of any particular purpose. I don’t have any obvious or apparent skills or “talents” and it’s been such a long time since I felt like I was the best at something. But the thing is, being “the best” isn’t a requirement for being special—look at God, who uplifts and loves me unconditionally despite me not being in first place! Even though I’m not a talented singer, a good cook, or an accomplished poet, there are still so many aspects about me that are worth celebrating!
This week, take some time to draft a quick list—what are the things about yourself that are worth celebrating this season? Love your smile? Impressed by your knowledge of this season’s Real Housewives drama? Pleased with yourself for making it through a tough work week? Write ‘em down, shout yourself out, and cel-e-brate!
2) Indulge in a true, guilt-free, “feel good” activity
As I’ve started to come more fully into adulthood, I’ve caught myself struggling with the constant restrictions I put in place. I want flat abs? I better say “no” to eating sweets. I want to be convinced myself that I’m really focused? I better not watch any TV during the work week. I want be on top of this blogging thing? I better push past the urge to sleep past 8am on Saturdays.
So often, for various reasons, we put things we love on a “don’t” list. But life is about balance right?! This week, try treating yourself to something that makes you feel good or something you don’t indulge in too often, all in the name of self love! Love to eat macarons? Don’t want to change out of your pajamas this weekend? Want to eat ice cream from the carton (assuming you’re grown and you bought it yourself)? DO THAT (and don’t feel bad about it)!
3) Run through a few “yay me” affirmations
It took me a while to really get into the whole affirmation thing, but once I rejected the idea of it being too “corny” I fully stepped into the role of being my own biggest cheerleader! Life is hard, y’all, and sometimes I feel crushed by the thoughts of everything I haven’t yet achieved, everything I struggle with, and everything I’m not. But running through a few of the affirmations I’ve committed myself to can be such an awesome reminder that true (self) love does not dwell on faults, shortcomings, and “not enough”s.
This week, find/create a few affirming statement that you want to guide you through this Valentine’s season and slap those bad boys on your mirrors, appliances, walls, car windows, etc. I mean, who doesn’t love the occasion “I AM awesome” reminder? I’ve listed a few of my affirmations for the month below, but get creative!
- My level of awesomeness is unceasing
- I am deserving of happiness
- I am not defined by my faults
- I am not fighting this fight alone (Psalm 139)
4) Write a love note to the future or past you!
There are times, especially around holidays, when I’m overwhelmed by the huge gaps between the life I thought I’d be living and my present situation. When I compare my February 2018 self to the visions of my life I crafted years ago, it’s easy for feelings of sadness, anxiety, and disappointment to take over. In these moments, it’s so easy to overlook everything I’ve accomplished and all the awesome things I’m working on to feel sad about my “shortcomings” (as compared to the ridiculous life markers I put in place when I was younger and less experienced).
This season, we should be more intentional about giving ourselves the praise we deserve. Take a stab by writing a letter to either your past or future self. If you’re writing to a past you, consider telling her how proud you are of her, how much she will grow, how her work and efforts have paid off. If you’re writing to a future you, consider telling her what you’re looking forward to accomplishing, the ways you’re looking forward to growing, the lessons you’re hoping to learn. Whichever “you” you decide to write to, take this opportunity to tell her that she is loved.
God, thank you for believing in my when I don’t believe in myself and caring for me when I fall short of caring for myself. Thank you for demonstrating what true love looks like—fierce and unconditional, without reservation or qualification—and loving me as I am. Thank you for showering me with love, even when I feel undeserving.
Lord, help me learn to love myself with as much grace as you do, with the same strength and intensity that I try to love those around me. Teach me to prioritize my own health and wellness while I work to build/maintain healthy relationships with the people in my life. Keep me close to you as I explore the meaning of true love, self care, and compassion moving forward.