Love of Others, Love of Self
It’s everywhere you look these days- Hearts, flowers, candy. Valentines Day- you either love it or hate it. And for those without a partner to share it with, it can be a difficult day filled with loneliness and heartache.
February is the month of love, and for me, being newly single and still healing from the emotional trauma that dissolved the marriage I’d sunk my entire heart into, I’ve had to re-evaluate what “love” really means. And you know what I’ve learned? Love is about more than the partner you’ve promised a commitment to. It’s way more than romance and flowers. (Though I do love both!)
Love is about every relationship in your life- not just romantic, but family and friends as well. And it’s my belief that to fully appreciate and contribute to any of these relationships, you need to create and nurture a love for self.
Love for Others
Love is a funny thing. It’s infinite, yet finite. Limited, but limitless. You can expand your circle of love to many, but it can’t be hoarded or held onto. If it’s not used or given away, it dies.
Love grows and strengthens with use. The more you give to and share with others, the more you’ll have. It multiplies to fit the need of those around you. Whatever you’re willing to give away, you’ll always have enough.
Valentine’s Isn’t Only Romantic
Valentine’s Day has never just been about a partner for me. Ever since I was very little, I’d wake up on February 14th to a thoughtful card and a handful of sugary treats from my mom. The day has been filled with hugs, notes, and treats from grandparents, siblings, and extended family. I realize I’ve been blessed far more than most, for which I am intensely grateful.
How To Spread Love to Everyone in your Life
Whether or not you’ve had an upbringing like mine, you can still choose to spread love to those in your own inner circle. Need some ideas of how to do this?
- Send Out Valentines: My siblings and I grew up making homemade Valentines for our family and friends. Complete with construction paper, stickers and those white paper doilies. You know the kind… Now I’m not a particular crafty-type of person, but as a
kidI always enjoyed spending a little time making something special for the people I cared about. Long before “romance” was a thing for me, I learned how good it felt to share my love with those important people in my life. (But if you’d rather not craft your valentines, there’s really nothing wrong with buying them a nice card!)
- Write a Nice Letter: Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) making or purchasing valentines, you can pick a couple especially influential close family members/friends and write them a note telling them how grateful you are for them and what they add to your life.
- Give Service: Stepping outside your own life and doing something nice for someone else can be a huge boon to your spirits. Seeing how your efforts lighten the lives of someone you care about (or even your community) is a fantastic way to share
Love for Self
But love for others isn’t the only love you need in your life. If you give and give without ever refilling your tank, eventually you’ll run out- you’ll have nothing left to share.
Instead, you need to work on giving yourself some love as well.
Increasing your love of self will increase the love that comes to you from others.
What is Self-Love?
Self love seems to have a bad rap these days. People often confuse it with narcissism or self-absorption. Quite the contrary though, self-compassion is about honoring your intrinsic value. It’s not about putting others down, but about seeing the best in yourself, despite your faults and weaknesses. You don’t love yourself at the expense of others, but in addition to others.
Nurturing healthy self-love will spill out into every aspect of your life. You’ll find yourself filled with self-confidence and optimism. You’ll be more willing try new things (and often find success in them), have more positive interactions with others, overcome setbacks quicker, and learn from the failures that would leave others frustrated and upset.
Think for a moment about how you rate within these qualities? Is there room for improvement?
The more time you spend caring for your emotional well-being (within reason, of course), the happier and more positive about life you’ll become.
How To Make Valentine’s Day a Day For You
So what can you do this February 14th to give yourself a little love? How can you use the holiday to grow into a stronger, more self-aware individual?
- Journal your relationship history. Make a list of your past partners. What fond memories do you have? What lessons did you learn along the way? How have you grown as a result
fromthat person being in your life? You can pick just a couple to journal about, or you can go all the way back to Jr. High School- it’s up to you. But try to focus on the positive, rather than allowing you to wallow in the fact that it didn’t work out. Remember that mistakes are only worthless if we refuse to learn from them. How can you embrace your past and work toward a brighter future?
- What kind of person are you looking for?
- Make a list of the positive attributes you’d like to see in your next partner. What are your deal-breakers? How about your “nice-to-haves?” Think of people you admire. What qualities do they possess? Why do you consider them a “good person?”
- List the qualities you know you’d like to avoid in the future. Perhaps these are things you’ve learned you can’t live
with,or things that harm your emotional or mental well-being.
- How can you improve? Take inventory. How many of the qualities above (positive or negative) do you possess? It’s my belief that it’s unrealistic for us to expect things of our partners that we do not provide ourselves. If it’s a gender-specific circumstance, what’s your gender-equivalent? Make a plan to improve yourself in the areas you’re looking for in a partner. Prepare now to be the best partner you can be.
- List your blessings. It's easy to dwell on the things you don't have in life, but this only drags us down. Spend some time during this wonderful celebration of
all-typesof love to be grateful for the blessings in your life. Today, let the focus be on the people that have added to it, the lessons they've taught you and ways they've helped you grow. Focusing on gratitude keeps us optimistic, happy and hopeful.
I hope you can see the strong correlation between giving love to others and to self. By working to improve both, you end up increasing your overall life positivity, happiness and joy of life.
For me, February is about far more than candy hearts and being in a relationship. It’s a chance for me to celebrate all the love that surrounds me, including the love I have for myself. Even though I’ve recently gone through a painful divorce leaving me single for Valentine’s day for the first time in years, there's still so much good. Focusing on that keeps me aware of more than the painful reminders of what I’ve lost- I begin to see all the positive and wonderful things that are all around me as well. Nurturing a healthy relationship with my own emotional well-being encourages me to be grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with and hopeful for what comes next.
Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful romance-filled day, or a day of incredible loneliness. Whiter or not you have a partner to celebrate with, you get to choose if you’ll spend it with happiness and optimism or frustration and sadness. Neither choice is predicated on who you’re with.
How do you decide to live?