Be Your Own Valentine

I love myself first.

I mean, I love God first. But after God, I love myself first before all others. It seems like such a basic idea, but there was a time when I would hesitate even thinking that, let alone saying it and believing it. It felt self-centered to me. Or arrogant. I think it’s a thing many girls are trained to be: these selfless people who put everyone first and think of themselves last. And in doing so, loving themselves last.

I can’t pinpoint the day that way of thinking changed for me. But I do know that I can feel the difference. My relationships are different. The way I talk to myself and treat myself on a regular basis is different. On the days when I don’t feel so hot or am feeling down, instead of letting the hate talk rule, I am loving to myself and treat myself with care. I sleep better because I’m not worrying or wondering about some man that …  I don’t tolerate things that I used to “give the benefit of the doubt to.” And I don’t feel the need to apologize for how I feel or explain myself. In fact I don’t have people in my life that would even expect that or ask that.

What’s funny is, I used to say I loved myself but did all of those things I listed above (and worse). My actions didn’t align with my words. And I know now that it’s because I didn’t really believe it. I thought it was arrogant to say I loved myself, even as I was saying it (crazy, right!). It took some real self-work, work that I’m still doing, to change that. It’s an ongoing thing, because really your relationship with yourself is an ongoing one. I mean, who else do you have, other than God, for your entire your life?

So with Valentine’s Day being today, and Valentine’s Day being a day that is supposed to be about love, I figured what better day to talk about self-love. (Disclaimer: I have a thing for Valentine’s Day. It was my parent’s anniversary, so I will likely always have a part of me that’s enthusiastic about this day in some way.)  I’m not trying to get all preachy and disregard the obvious fact that relationships, coupledom, and romantic love are what are emphasized on Valentine’s Day.  This isn’t a single’s only kind of post either. Self-love is for everyone. As all the self-help gurus will tell you, it all starts from self-love because you can’t expect someone else to love you if you don’t love yourself first. And so, here are few suggestions I have for showing yourself some love today (or this weekend if the middle of the week is too busy to pay attention to the day).

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1. Get Yourself a Gift – This doesn’t have to be a big  material item. But in some way think of something that you need or would be a great way to show love for yourself. It could be deciding to pick up dinner from your favorite restaurant. It could be making your favorite dessert. It could be getting a yoga mat so you are one step closer to incorporating yoga in your life. Hell, it could be signing up for yoga (or any other fitness) classes.On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with a little material item if its something you have wanted for a while and is within your budget. Admittedly, I’m spoiled because I grew up getting gifts from my Dad for Valentine’s Day. He’d always have candy or a teddy bear or even roses for my sister and I. Somewhere along the line I as an adult I started getting myself a gift each year – regardless of my relationship status. So yeah, I’m big on the gifts. It’s my thing  *shrug*)

2. Treat Yo’ Self – Maybe a gift isn’t in your budget. No matter. You can still show yourself some love by indulging in something to relax or decompress. Maybe that’s going for a walk in the park. Or perhaps it’s taking a hot bubble bath. It could be giving yourself a mani/pedi. Or if you’re a person that often takes work home, like me, maybe it’s leaving your work on your desk and going home, putting on your pajamas and just doing whatever the hell you want -even if that’s a whole lot of nothing. Whatever makes you feel good and relaxes you (that’s legal of course 😉)- I say go for it.

3. Write Yourself a Love Letter – So I know that this is the day for red and pink cards covered in hearts and cupid’s arrows and all that. But nothing beats a good ole fashioned love letter. There are more words and thoughts in a letter because they all are original thoughts that come from the heart. I think that writing yourself a love letter on any day can be both therapeutic and motivating. But because I know that this day can sometimes be a downer for single folks, I think that showing yourself some love in writing can be even more powerful. Think about all the things that you love about yourself. What makes you unique? What strengths do you have? What are your talents? What obstacles have you tackled and overcome to lead you to today? What makes you the dope individual that you are? This is just a starting point. But trust me, when you get started the result will be one of those letters you never want to let go of.

4. Take Yourself on a Date – Now I know some people may think this is corny…but I don’t care. I’m one of those people that does things on my own a lot anyway because I realized that if I waited on other people I knew to want to do the things I liked than I’d end up missing out on a lot in life. So while for me this may be easy, I can see how for others this may feel awkward. And in particular, going out on Valentine’s Day to some (but not all) places may feel weird because of all the couples. BUT, there are still options. My personal go-to are the movies. I goto the movies by myself most of the time (and Tuesdays happen to be the best day because a number of theaters have discount movie tickets all day). So that’s one option. But also, you can also opt to take yourself out to dinner (and plenty of places have singles going out on this day so you’re not alone). But even beyond dinner and/or a movie, you can be creative. Maybe this is the day you check out a museum exhibit you’ve been wanting to check out.  (Personally, if I had the time I know I’d probably make my way into DC to see if I could make it through more of the Portraiture Museum since I couldn’t get through the whole thing the first time I went this past summer). Or maybe you wait until this weekend and take a trip and get out of town for a bit. I know the weather is predicted to be nice this weekend here so a little road-trip could always be the option (especially if you’re like me and like the ocean – this time of year is off season so rates are always better at hotels on the beach).

5. Go Volunteer – One thing people who regularly do community service know, that they don’t always tell you, is that much of the time when you are giving of yourself you  end up feeling good in the process. So maybe doing something for yourself isn’t what you want to do today. Or maybe doing things for yourself is something you do on the regular. Whatever the case may be, giving back really can feel good and in turn can make you feel better about yourself. Even better, you may find a volunteer opportunity that you want to make a regular part of your life. So in a sense you get a 2-for-1 with this: you’re helping the community by showing love to others, and in turn creating a good feeling inside-which is a part of loving yourself.

6. Love Up on Those Who Love You – I will say it again, Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers. My mom, sister, and I have been exchanging cards on this day for forever, and  as I mentioned before my Dad always made the women in my family feel special too. Just like you used to get little cards to give your friends at school (well at least we used to do that. Do they even still give Valentine’s Day cards anymore?), the same can go today. But instead maybe it’s just sending a loving text to each of your homegirls. Or maybe linking up with them and having a girls dinner. Hell, it could be doing a spa day later this week. I don’t know about you, but being with my favorite people feels good as hell. So to me, that equals some self-love too. It doesn’t have always be about solitude.

Just like you should treat others how you want to be treated, you also should remember to treat yourself how you want others to treat you. Whatever it is you do, I hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day. Show love to yourself, show love to others, but regardless …just show love.

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