Together or Single
For couples who are in love it’s a great time to celebrate our relationships.
Couples in a loveless relationship can find it to be a tricky ‘make or break’ time.
For the happily single, it may be a time of relief, or to focus on the other types of love in our lives, (or to not even notice it!).
And for those who are unhappily single it can be a very challenging time, often highlighting what we feel we are missing out on in our life.
Of course, there are many other variants, but let’s consider the essence of real love and perhaps we can all have an even happier Valentine’s Day?
“Learning to love yourself” – really?
The old cliché that learning to love yourself is the greatest and most important love has certainly lost a lot in translation as it has been so overused and often misunderstood. So…
Let me ask you this one question … can you say that you love yourself with as much ease and conviction as stating what day of the week it is?
If you answered yes, I’ll get to you in a minute or two!
If you answered no, then certain events, circumstances, or people (yes, possibly even ourselves) have managed to ‘steal’ this from you.
Are you capable?
Whether you are single or are in a relationship, how you feel on Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter!) will be greatly affected by the degree of self-love you are currently capable of and behaving in line with.
In my 23 years of clinical practice, the majority of people I see have lost this capability of self-love and have often lost the believe (if they ever had it) that they deserve to be loved.
Defending our love
If we were fortunate enough to reach adulthood with the capability of self-love and the belief that we deserve to be loved intact, then we are far better equipped to defend and protect ourselves when someone challenges that.
This is the case whether that challenge is deliberate, for example, in the form of bad treatment, or perceived by us through other people’s choices that we misunderstood to mean we were unlovable – especially when they chose to end a relationship that we wanted to stay in.
Signs of lacking self-love
Tell-tale signs that we are lacking the capability of self-love and the belief that we deserve love can include:
- Making excuses to avoid social events
- Being ‘too busy’ with work to have time for love
- Negative self-talk (internally beating ourselves up)
- Expecting rejection from any prospective love interest
- Setting unrealistic expectations that we know cannot be met
- Sabotaging potential love
- Deceiving ourselves and others (e.g. saying we are happily single even when we are not, or constantly finding fault in potential partners)
- Neglecting our physical appearance, health or fitness
- Allowing the past to mar our future (e.g. thinking that if one person left us, then everyone will leave)
and many more.
These are all examples of how we treat ourselves badly and are definitely NOT signs of self-love. Would you treat a partner who you truly love in any of these ways? Hopefully the answer to that is “no” or there are other matters to be addressed! So, the next step would be to STOP these behaviours but first ask yourself…
Do YOU deserve love?
We all deserve to be loved and accepted for all that we are. Whatever has happened in our lives, wherever we were born, and to whomever we were born, whatever circumstances, we were given this wonderful gift of life. What makes it truly wonderful is that we are each completely unique and regardless of any (wrongful) perceptions, each and every one of us deserves to be loved for exactly who we are in life.
Whether in my clinical practice, in coaching or mentoring, or at speaking events, there are always people with a “but” response to the question of whether we deserve love. Whatever the circumstances, or whoever was part of your journey upon which your capability to love yourself was damaged, or if the belief was challenged so strongly and consistently, it is possible to change – 100% possible.
Too bad, too much, too late …
- If you feel your heart has been broken so badly that you think it will never heal enough to even entertain the thought of love again … you can love again.
- If your heart has been broken so many times that you think could not survive another heartbreak … you can love again (and significantly reduce the risk of heartbreak).
- If you have always been told that you are not good enough, that is categorically not true … you are good enough.
- If you think it is too late, it is never too late … you can love again, at every age!
- If you think there is anything about you that prevents you from being loved, you are wrong, everyone can … you can be loved.
If you need some tips or reminders on how to love yourself, these are for you:
Make a list of Your Qualities
This list may contain things that are unique to you and some that others have too – they all count. If you struggle to come up with your qualities, think what your closest friend / family member would say if asked. You can add to this list daily and use it as an affirmation sheet first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Recognise Your Self-talk (internal dialogue)
We all have an internal dialogue (that voice that can chatter away all day!).
Become aware of what your self-talk is saying to you and write down any negative and consciously change them to positives.
Be kind to Yourself
Treat yourself in the way you would like others to treat you when they are treating you the very best. If you make a mistake or do something that you think is wrong or less that you could have, forgive yourself and rather than beat yourself up, consider how you could do this better next time.
Set yourself some Goals
In any area of your life!
It is unnecessary for these to be huge goals, any are better than none. Just check that they are stated in the positive and that they will improve your ability to enjoy life whilst learning to love yourself.
Take great care of You
Do this in a way that shows how much you matter. Take time for yourself, maybe do some things you enjoy, prepare healthy meals, drink plenty of water, or get some fresh air. If you are going out, get ready as if you were going on a date except that you are doing this for you (which should always be the case!) with pride in yourself.
It is Valentine’s Day after all! It doesn’t have to be expensive or it can be whichever suits you. Your treat could be buying something new, having a treatment, meeting with friends, starting a new hobby (or picking up an old one!), hey it could even be doing a bit of a spring clean which is great for getting rid of old energy from the past.
Make a Promise to Love Yourself
Self-love is the prerequisite for a healthy loving relationship – Fact. When you love yourself, as well as attracting love more readily, you create the right environment and circumstances for a healthy loving relationship. Additionally, when you love and respect yourself, others treat you with the same levels of love and respect.
One of my favourites topics when I am doing a speaking event is about what we ‘project’ into the world subconsciously. Everything you think and believe in your mind, you actually ‘project’ or portray to the outside world subconsciously before you even say a single word! It’s fascinating.
This is far more than just old school body language interpretation, you communicate the sum of your thoughts and beliefs non-verbally through your physiology (including how you breathe) and your voice tone before any meaning is attached to the words you say. And here’s the mind-blowing statistic … 93% of what you communicate is non-verbal.
24 years ago, before I knew about this, I used to say I might as well have a post-it note on my forehead because it seemed everyone knew my deepest fear even though I never mentioned it!
The World will know!
It is because of your subconscious projections that when you get into the habit of loving yourself, and recognise the truth that you do deserve love, other people will know. I’m sure you have had plenty of experiences where you take one look at a person and you just ‘know’ where they are at in a certain area of their life. This is where expressions like “it’s written all over your face” come into play. And you can probably think of several people who are capable of self-love just from their physiology and voice tone even if you don’t know them very well.
So, the World will know when you love yourself and believe you deserve love and then will be ready for love and, as if by magic(!), it will present itself to you.
Happy Valentine’s Day
I wish you an incredibly special Valentine’s Day, giving yourself this gift of reconnecting with your uniqueness and honouring yourself by accepting yourself and embracing the truth that you do deserve to be loved, starting with self-love.
The Others (you thought I‘d forgotten you didn’t you?)
And for those of you who answered “Yes” to the question “can you say that you love yourself with as much ease and conviction as stating what day of the week it is?” under the ‘Stolen Love’ heading, I hadn’t forgotten you!
Firstly, congratulations for either getting through life with this capability intact or for those of you who have worked hard (on your own or in therapy) to regain it. Keep on loving yourself.
If you are happily single because you already know that a loving relationship is just one aspect of life’s rich tapestry or are taking time out after a relationship to re-centre, then I wish you an incredibly special Valentine’s Day too, and give yourself that extra special demonstration of love that you might have given or received from a partner. You deserve extra too.
If you are in a relationship and answered “Yes” to the question of self-love then congratulations to you too.
Remember to always be mindful that you continue your self-love and acknowledge your uniqueness. The healthiest relationships have two individuals relating well and enjoying appropriate space in their togetherness. I wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and enjoy giving and receiving that extra special demonstration of love with your partner.
It’s a great time to review your relationship, remember why you choose them in the first place, and be grateful for all the reasons you chose them and choose to continue to love them.