On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to think about all the people we love. I feel lucky to have a long list of family and friends who I deeply appreciate, and I make an effort to let them know that—on Valentine’s Day and every day.
But I also make sure to show love to one very important person: me.
For many of us, self-love can feel selfish. We devote our energy to taking care of others and to helping in our communities. We commit to being the good daughter, the good mom, the good friend, the good employee… We give away our time and energy so there ends up being little left for ourselves. And we lose sight of the fact that self-love allows us to refresh the precious energy we want to be able to give to others. It allows us to show up in a more authentic way in the relationships we value. Self-love is actually good stewardship of the gifts we have to share with the world.
Now I’m not talking about self-love in the clichéd “get a massage-exercise-meditate” kind of way (though those activities can certainly be helpful!). I’m talking about self-love in the “let’s pay attention to what brings us joy and commit to creating space in our lives for those things” kind of way. I’m talking about reading, gardening, making music, writing, pottery, drawing, painting, dancing, hiking. What makes your soul sing? What are you curious about? How do you desire to spend a day with no plans? That’s what you need to make time for. Focus on filling your own heart with joy and the excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear.
But maybe you’re stuck here because you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I deserve that…”
So let me tell you I’m also talking about self-love in the “let’s love every part of ourselves, especially the parts we feel the need to apologize for” kind of way. Because self-love is a choice. It’s a choice to honor and respect all parts of myself, and a choice to believe that I matter and I deserve to be happy.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a good portion of time and energy catering to the needs of others, caring for others, and trying to love others well. You’ve deferred to others’ opinions and ideas, been doing what others expect of you, and holding yourself back so others could be comfortable. It wasn’t until I almost lost myself that I made the choice to accept and love myself. And that decision is what allows me to spend my time and energy differently. Now I am free to explore what brings me joy and to create the space for those activities.
For me, self-love has become that freedom. Freedom to reserve time for myself, freedom to consider what brings me joy, freedom to say no, freedom to devote my time and energy to people who have my happiness in mind. And also freedom to have opinions and express them, freedom to respect my needs and ensure they are met, freedom to celebrate myself, freedom to speak my truth, freedom to silence my inner critic, freedom to explore the other side of fear, freedom to notice and honor my feelings, freedom to believe I am worthy, and freedom to trust myself.
This Valentine’s Day, it’s time to choose you. Celebrate the day by believing that you deserve your love and affection just as much as anyone else.
You can bet I’ll be spending the day celebrating my freedom.
How can you celebrate yourself?
Nora Blumenstein is our go-to gal for creating a culture of impact here at LiveYourDream.org. From crafting advocacy campaigns ending violence against women to building action, Nora knows that strong, determined women and girls will set the world on fire! In between campaigns, facilitating workshops and running programs all over the globe (NBD!), you can find Nora reading in the park with her dog, Luna.