As we approach Valentine’s Day, most of us have love on the brain. If we’re in a relationship, we’re thinking about our plans with our beloved, what we’ll wear, where we’ll go, what gift we’ll get or give. If we’re single, we’re just counting down to the second this godforsaken day is over so we can get back to our lives. Ironically, though, most of us are probably NOT thinking much about self-love during this holiday of hearts.
I know, I know … self-love seems like another one of those buzz words that we’re used to seeing on Instagram quotes, on t-shirts or maybe even hearing about it from pop culture icons and celebrities. What self-love is not is superficial. It is not conditional. It is not an external “love” that focuses on the physical. In other words, having a bad hair day or not liking the way your ass looks in certain jeans is not necessarily associated with a lack of self-love.
But what does self-love mean exactly? In its purest form, self-love is a deep and divine conviction and appreciation of our value, our worthiness and our unique humanity, flaws and all. This deep and divine conviction and appreciation, if nurtured, will inevitably lead to actions that influence all facets of life including (but not limited to):
- Who we date, love and possibly marry
- Which friends we choose to be a part of our circle
- How we earn a living
- How we parent and influence our children
- How we care for ourselves-body, mind, and spirit
Yep, self-love is the foundation of so many life choices and decisions. I have to admit, I can think of plenty of times in my life when my decisions were a HUGE reflection of my lack of self-love. At times I valued and prioritized partners, friends, jobs, and even societal expectations more than I valued and prioritized myself. I can totally relate to the James Baldwin quote, “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself and half-believed before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”
Romantic relationships have been the biggest mirror, showing me my own self-love deficiencies. After years of attracting misaligned partners, I had to look at myself as the common denominator and become aware of the fact that I wasn’t loving myself as deeply as I needed to so how could I expect them to?
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you”
– Rupi Kaur
In this age of the strong, independent, and empowered woman, it’s not easy to be vulnerable enough to admit that we do not love ourselves as completely and unapologetically as we should. But we must become aware of and intentional in our pursuit of authentic self-love. I have definitely fallen short in my love for me over the years but I continue to grow in this area because I know that it makes a huge impact on the choices and decisions that make up my life. So while we’re thinking about hearts and cupid and celebrating love this Valentine’s Day, let’s be sure to take time to honor and appreciate ourselves.
“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs, and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-love”
– Kim McMillen