Most mornings I read from a book of daily spiritual readings, given to me by a friend here in Mexico during my last visit. She gave me a paper copy which I passed on to another friend and I downloaded the digital version. I love the readings mostly, but this morning when I ‘swiped’ the page across and saw the title “Be My Valentine” the first thing I did was an internal eye roll.
There’s just something about this cheesy, commercial day exploiting the concept of romantic love that turns everyone’s stomach, am I right?
As I continued to read, thankful that it wasn’t at all about romantic love, but about love on a broader, all-encompassing scale, it got me thinking about the only love really worth having, the only love I can rely on and trust in utterly and completely, but that I neglect and overlook continuously – self-love.
I know, I know, it’s a new age concept that is constantly bandied around, and we all know we should love ourselves, rely on ourselves and look after ourselves, blah, blah, blah.
Perhaps we see self-love as something a little more, ahem, erotic in nature, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, I’m talking about something different. It’s 8 AM people!
Have You Told You Lately That You Love You?
I can really only explain what I mean by telling you a story about a recent experience I had (just for something different!). I was going over a situation in my head, a situation I felt badly about, guilty about even, because it hadn’t gone the way I’d expected or hoped. I naturally blamed myself, which has become an unfortunate pattern I have formed through taking the healthy practice of self-analysis to its negative extreme (yes, I can overdo anything and turn it bad, even the good stuff).
When I realised I blamed myself, which was the true root of my discomfort, and yet I had truly done the best I could at the time, I realised how fruitless and pointless it was to feel badly about something I no longer had any control over. It was in the past, and I had handled it the best I could at the time.
So just for something different, I tried to focus on that. I actually told myself (spoke to myself in my mind) that I did really well, that I did better than I would have a year ago or two years ago, that I had made wonderful progress, even handled the situation well.
And because I didn’t quite believe myself yet, since the patterns of self-blame were so deeply embedded in my psyche, I visualized sending all the love I could muster towards myself. Yep, I was hurting so much about something that had already happened and that I no longer had any control over, that all I could think to try, rather than intellectualizing or rationalizing or blaming someone else just for fun (because let’s face it, it is), was to try to love myself through it.
And as I sent that love towards myself as though employing some sort of Jedi forces, (and don’t worry, part of me thinks I’m totally nuts for sharing this with you too), my negative thoughts, feelings of self-blame, guilt and resentment, disappeared.
It actually worked.
I couldn’t quite believe it, but I felt so much better, peaceful even. But just to be sure, I bowed my head like the wonderfully freaky little guy in the TV show ‘The Middle’ and whispered, “I love you, Sarah.”
And those words were so foreign to me, yet so completely powerful that tears fell from my eyes and I could physically feel my heart swell inside my chest. It was the first time I’d told myself that I loved me.
Out loud. And in that mix of emotion was the sadness that I had gone 32 years saying it to so many different people who had come and gone from my life and never taken the few seconds it took to say it to myself and actually mean it.
So in honour of this tacky commercialized day, I’m not going to say that I love you (which I do), I’m going to say that I love me, because I need the practice.
And I’ll leave you with this passage I read this morning:
“Be a true valentine by reminding your loved ones that they are unlimited. Inspire them to trust their heart’s wisdom, and miracles will occur. And if you are your own valentine, remember that all the love you need is within you, just as you are, right where you are.”
– Alan Cohen