What Have You Done Lately to Love Yourself More? A Valentine’s Day Post-Mortem

(Day 4: Fear Challenge)

Ok guys, since I’m not the most on-time person — my article for Valentine’s Day has turned into a post-mortem review instead. My philosophy is better late than never. Besides, when you think about it, everyone writes about Valentine’s Day — no one writes a post-mortem review about it (my feeble but brilliant attempt at making myself feel better.)

So what did you do for Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day has become such a commercial holiday. Every year, I see all the beautiful ads for very expensive roses and jewelry that cost an arm and a leg, but did we forget what the day is actually about?

Did you know in Japan, they came up with White Day which falls on March 14th, one month after Valentine’s day where the boys are supposed to return the gift of chocolates to women. Guess who came up with this grand idea in 1978? That’s right, it was Japan’s National Confectionery Industry Association. They did a great job because it has since spread all over Asia and they have made oodles and oodles of moola based on this “day.”

My favorite, though, is from the Koreans, who unofficially created a Black Day in response to White Day. Black Day falls on April 14th, one month after White day. Those who did not receive any chocolates on Valentine’s Day or White Day get together to commiserate by wearing black and eating “black” or “dark” noodles called Jajangmyeon. I laughed my ass off when I heard about this — I thought they were joking at first. But you have got to love their humor and perspective. Why not indeed? Everyone should be included somehow. After all, it’s a celebration of love and Love should be inclusive — not exclusive.

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/morish/4079464860/

My personal take on Valentine’s Day is that it’s a day of love and friendship — not just romantic love. When I was in college, I bought flowers to hand out and give to my friends (okay maybe they were daisies because I was cheap, and I may have bought them the day before, but it’s the thought that counts.) The best feeling is seeing someone smile because they didn’t expect a gift, it doesn’t need to be expensive, it can be simple — so long as it’s sincere.

So this is how I spent my Valentine’s Day this year. I’m not currently in a relationship so I spent it on a date with myself :) I wished my friends Happy Valentine’s Day and I granted myself a bit of quiet time with my own thoughts. It was a beautiful and sunny day and I was feeling good. In these moments of quiet joy and peacefulness, a lot of things can become clear in an instant.

I realized if Valentine’s Day was a day of love, I was not doing a good enough job of loving myself. I sat with this for a moment to let it seep in. Since I’m logical and action-oriented (a.k.a. impatient), I decided — okay, let’s address this. What can I gift myself where I can learn to love myself more? The best gifts are gifts that continue to give — not one time deal gifts. Gifts that address deeper issues can make a larger and more lasting impact.

It also made me think about what it takes to love someone.

Relationships are the ultimate test of how well we love ourselves.

Relationships pull out all our insecurities, our fears and it teaches us how to relate by having empathy — understanding someone from their perspective. Most of all, it’s about learning to see beyond the surface — what is this person you love and care about really struggling with underneath it all? Can you look beyond the emotional roller coaster and drama to see clearly? Can you learn to express yourself and communicate in a way that’s loving and conducive to resolving issues rather than unintentionally compounding them?

We learn the most from our relationships, but at the end of the day, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. If you are unhappy, no one else in the world can make you happy. You cannot give away something you don’t have. This means to truly love someone, you must first learn to love and understand yourself. Make sure your tank is full, and you will have enough fuel to give someone you love the moon. If your tank is empty, your space ship is going to break down and you’re not even gonna make it to the moon. This applies to both men and women, though what each species needs is quite different. I agree with John Gray that men are from Mars and women are from Venus — two completely different planets and species.

Many of us have a goal of getting something material — believe me, I have those lists too. My Amazon save list is maxed out at 600 — in case you didn’t know what the maximum is for Amazon’s save list… OCD anyone?

Learning to love yourself more is not as simple as purchasing a shiny item. What’s more important is the intention behind it. Things are tools, they can help us — but the the thing itself is not what cures things, it’s the application of it, the purpose behind it. When you decide on what gift to give yourself to love yourself more, don’t forget the intangible things like time, peace of mind and other things. What every person needs is different, so you need to look deeply at what you need the most right now. If you can craft the gift in a way where it can stick, even better.

For my Valentine’s Day, I decided to give myself something that would allow me to figure out a more sustainable way to handle changes in my life. I decided to love myself more by cutting myself slack on things I’d been struggling with — and going back to basics to address my poor sleeping habits. Because I had such a good day on Valentine’s Day, I realized it was directly impacted by the amount of rest and sleep I was getting. I was not taking care of my health. Fatigue affects all decision making processes and how effective a person can be. If you’re tired, your will power goes down. An exhausted person thinks and behaves no differently than a drunk person. This makes complete sense when you consider the fact that the number one cause of accidents on the road is falling asleep at the wheel and not drunk driving.

My gut tends to give me very specific instructions and assignments. Over the next two weeks, I am tasked with making sure I get adequate sleep every night, and to lighten my workload in order to get a better handle on balancing new people and situations in my life. It’s like getting new pieces on a chessboard — how do these new pieces work and how do I integrate them into play without throwing off everything else that’s already in play?

I made it official by crafting a plan and asking my team for support. Usually, I barrel through things, but I’m not fooling anyone but myself when I think I’ve got things under control. I have to remind myself the cardinal rule of learning something new — that I’m going to be stumbling and bumbling through things in the beginning, and that it is okay because it’s a natural process. I really ought to be an expert at this by now with the sheer number of things I’ve been a beginner at (that’s a lot of things I’ve been terrible at.) Every experience, though, was worth it — I just wasn’t good at cutting myself slack because of a dirty word called Patience. Patience Grasshopper. Things take time to unfold.

The first thing is forgiveness. It’s hard enough to do the things we need to do, without shouldering a huge sack of rocks on our back while trying to summit a mountain. Frankly, it’s preposterous. My mind knows this, but my heart needs to learn this lesson better. Drop those rocks! Yes, that’s it, let go and slowly back away from them! Back away, Back away.

Again, foundations first. If you take the time to love yourself first — your friends, family, children and everyone you come into contact with will benefit as well. Although, Valentine’s Day is over, it’s never too late to begin.

What will you gift yourself to learn to love yourself more today?

P.S. Thank you so much for reading! My sincere wish is for you to get something of value — whether it be inspiration, encouragement, or to think more deeply about a topic that’s close to your heart. If there is a topic you’d like me to cover, please leave me a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. If you enjoyed it, please like it and share!

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