Whatever your thoughts on Valentine’s Day, whether you’re a hopeless romantic or you believe it’s an insincere and cynical commercial creation designed to suck yet more money from our wallets and purses, it at least provides an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the theme of love. I’d stick my neck out and suggest that the majority of us spend considerably more time loving, complimenting, and bolstering the self-esteem of others than we do ourselves, especially if you’re like me and tend to be self-critical and lack confidence.
Why do we tend to be more critical of ourselves than others? Why do we beat ourselves up so much for so many reasons? For having put a little weight on. For being a little grumpier than normal, especially toward our loved ones. For not earning as much money as we believe we should be. For not having spoken to that close friend in quite a while. For believing we’re making a complete hash of home-schooling. For being too damned tired all the time and subsequently not doing the things we’re truly passionate about. For feeling that life in general doesn’t live up to the perfect world others seem to be living (spoiler alert – all the influencers and others who look like they’re living perfect lives – they’re not. Not a single one of them). This list could go on and on and on.
How often do you flip this thinking on its head and actually praise yourself? How often do you step back and think ‘Yeah – I’m doing ok here”? How often do you think about the things you’re grateful for in life and then consider just what your input has been into making it that way? If you’re reading this and thinking “I do that all the time” then pat yourself on the back – that’s fantastic to hear. However, I’ll bet the majority of us don’t do this. I’ll bet the majority of us spend far too much time beating ourselves up.
So, please take 5 minutes during this Valentine’s Day and do me a big favour. Just like the plot of It’s a Wonderful Life, let’s try to determine just what you mean to others and, in doing so, learn to love yourself a little more. Think of people close to you and list just 3. Try to make it a mix of family and friends. Then, once you have your 3 names, consider just why you have that close relationship, particularly what you bring to it. How much would their life be impacted if you weren’t a part of it? What would they miss about you? Perhaps you’re a great listener whenever they need to rant and rave, or just need a shoulder to lean on. Perhaps you’re the one who turns most conversations into one of those wonderful moments when you both just double up in laughter and can’t stop. Perhaps you’re the calm and collected role model they secretly look up to? Perhaps it’s the little things, such as you’re the one who recommended a brilliant new album, movie, TV show, book or podcast. Perhaps you’re the exercise buddy they desperately need in their life. Perhaps you’re the one who will give an honest yet sensitive answer to their questions at a time when they need just that. Perhaps it’s something you’re not even aware of yet. Perhaps you make them feel safe, warm and protected. Perhaps it’s just the fact that you’re simply in their lives, either in person or on the other end of a phone whenever they need you, day or night. There will be reasons if you look for them. Reasons to hopefully make you realise why you should love yourself as much as you do others.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind. Kind to others but more importantly, to yourself.
Best wishes and take care.