After the year that was January, we find ourselves crawling into the month of lurveee. Cupid is just putting his nappy on and sharpening his bow whilst the supermarkets are flooding the aisles with more commercial tatt that none of us really need (and neither does the planet by the way - but that's a rant for another day!)
Now I know what you're thinking, 'you're being bitter because you're single'. Well, I'll have you know I love love. I think it's one of the most incredible human emotions we can experience. That said, I don't enjoy how commercialised Valentine's Day has become, with people under increasing pressure to outperform one another in a materialistic way to prove how much they love someone. Again, a rant for another day.
Whilst everyone gets swept up in the hype and Amazon makes yet MORE money off the back of social pressures, I have an idea that I really want you to consider. Regardless of whether or not you're married, in a relationship or single, I want you to listen to what I'm about to propose. What if we saw Valentine's Day as a reminder to prioritise what I believe to be a more important type of love than romantic love- the love we have for ourselves.
Have you ever looked at someone and thought, 'God, I wish I was as confident and as happy in my own skin as you are'? I used to get that all the time. I'd spend hours googling how to be more confident and how to increase my sense of self-worth but it didn't make a difference. Why? Because I wasn't proactively investing time in really trying to love myself. It's a bit like googling diets and saying you want to lose weight but still eating exactly whatever you want with no control or boundaries. It's never going to get you to where you want to be.
The last 12 months have really highlighted to me how important self-love is. Dedicating so much time to looking inwards and really working on appreciating myself and all the qualities I have to offer has made me realise just how life-changing these small daily actions and efforts can be.
Now that I feel more confident in myself and I can see my worth, I look back and see just how little I valued myself. Not only that, but I now realise the impact this self-deprecating attitude had on so many different aspects of my life. I dated guys who treated me like Councillor Brian Tolver treated Jackie Weaver on the notorious Handsforth council call. But, unlike Jackie, I let them treat me that way. Why? Because I believed that was all I was worth and I believed I must deserve it somehow. At work, I would let people make me feel anxious and paranoid because I could only see my value through the thanks and praise they gave me. And in my personal life, I looked to other people to tell me what to like, how to dress and what my life goals should be because I so desperately wanted to fit in and get everyone's stamp of approval instead of trying to understand who I truly am and what I truly want.
How different things are now.
These days, I don't date guys who make me doubt myself or my worth - I have plenty to offer and I refuse to settle for someone who doesn't appreciate that. Got that Jackie Weaver kind of energy now, LET ME TELL YOU. I turn up to meetings knowing and wholly embracing my worth, skills and knowledge and do not let anyone make me doubt that - I was hired for a reason. I know who I am and I'm now able to present myself to the world in the most authentic way - something that not only puts a smile on my face but is rather empowering.
Of course I have days where I'm not feeling so fancy and I give myself a little internal bashing, but that's what hormones will do to you once in a while. The trick I've found is to acknowledge I'm being hijacked by Mother Nature and her wicked games and make an effort to re-focus on and prioritise the small actions I've set myself every day, week and month to show myself the sweet sweet lovin' I deserve.
Yes it's lovely to be loved by someone else, but relying on someone else to tell you how loveable you are is not healthy. If that person leaves, your understanding and feeling of self-worth goes with them. NOT good. It also does no harm to work on yourself whilst in a relationship. 9 times out of 10, it strengthens the bond you have as a couple because someone who truly loves you only wants to see you at your very best. And if you being the best version of yourself is an issue for them, in the bin they can get.
So, whether you're hibernating on 14th February and stuffing your face with Ben and Jerrys or you're going all in with your partner, my plea to you is to mark Valentine's Day in your diary as the first day you commit to carving out some time in your day or week to showing yourself some of the love you so easily dish out to others - whether that be to friends, family or fur babies.
There are so many ways to practice self-love on a regular basis. It could be through learning how to be more self-aware, fiercely protecting time in your day or week to do something you enjoy, keeping note of all the things you achieve, journaling, treating yourself to something you want - the list goes on! However you choose to approach it, just please make a commitment today to start that journey if you haven't already. You simply WILL NOT regret it.