February is the season of love, the time we celebrate loving another. We give cards, candy, or flowers and go out on special dates with our partners, lovers, spouses.
We acknowledge and appreciate the person we choose to spend our lives with at this time. This is important of course, but have you ever thought about how you show love to yourself?
Loving yourself may sound corny or selfish, but consider how much more you can impact others if you first give to yourself? When you are happiest, you are most capable of contributing to other people.
So what does it mean to love yourself? When we love others, we show we care, we give appreciation, we spend time with them doing things they enjoy. We go out of our way to support them in difficult times. We forgive their mistakes. We celebrate their successes.
Making these efforts for ourselves is equally important. Instead of criticizing yourself, find qualities you really admire in yourself. Notice what you are good at, accomplishments you are proud of.
Take time daily to do something you really enjoy. Surround yourself with people who affirm you. Make your own happiness and well-being a regular priority. This may take practice.
Our tendency is to put ourselves on the bottom of the to-do list. Many feel this is the most noble approach to living a good life. Actually, I think this is backwards.
If I am well taken care of physically and emotionally, I am much more accessible to those in need of my loving attention. We can look at our financial well-being the same way.
Being stable financially and therefore having extra resources does not mean someone is greedy or selfish necessarily. What this can mean is a person has more to share with others who are in need of extra help.
Part of loving yourself is being fully responsible for your life, taking care of your health, your relationships, your finances, and everything else.
Getting to work on time and doing your best is loving yourself, because you are more likely to keep your job and be able to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Going to bed earlier and getting a good night’s sleep is loving yourself, because the health benefits are numerous and you will be more alert and productive the next day.
I realize how difficult making yourself your number one priority can be. I have struggled with this in my own life countless times.
A few months ago, I had an opportunity to attend a personal/professional development conference in Maui with one of my heroes, Jack Canfield, the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.
Going to this conference would mean spending six days away from my family, going to a dream destination without them, and spending thousands of dollars. Selfish, selfish, selfish, right?
I nearly talked myself out of it for all of those reasons. I almost didn’t even discuss the possibility with my husband because of it. But something kept nudging me to reconsider.
Long story short, I ended up applying and being one of the twenty people chosen to attend. This event turned my life completely around in several ways.
I spent four days with phenomenal people from around the world who are now part of my personal and professional circle.
I realized how much I was neglecting myself in my life and how I had to make my own needs a greater priority. I learned many tools and skills I use to help others as a counselor and life coach.
I cannot imagine my life without the experiences and people from Maui. I am forever changed for the better. Everyone in my life is benefitting from my having participated in this event, and I just about missed it because I thought it was too self-indulgent.
So please think carefully about all of this and learn from me. I promise when you truly love yourself everyone you know will be enriched and everything you do will be more meaningful to others.
Love really does make the world go round, and it all begins with you.
© - Cindy D. Whitmer (February 12, 2011)