At this time of year, if you’re like me, your thoughts probably turn to love. Or, if you’re paying attention to advertising, your thoughts will likely turn to chocolate, flowers, gifts and/or holidays for your loved one. This is one time of year that has always bugged me. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, my friend and I agreed to put on anti-Valentine’s day barbeques (clearly I wasn’t living in Scotland at that time!). As I got older and would find myself unattached at this time of year, I’d normally suggest to my other unattached friends that we plan an anti-Valentine’s day dinner, when a group of us would go out to eat, not on, but near enough, Valentine’s day, just because. Now that I’m attached, I spend a bit of time finding some little trinket that I think my loved one will keep – at least for a wee while – maybe a keychain or some-such. I usually get flowers and my favourite chocolates, and of course, we exchange cards.
So, it’s not necessarily a day that passes me by, but it’s also not necessarily a big display of love. Last year I recall writing a post about how much I love my friends and the huge amounts of love and support I get from my people. This year, I’ve seen a few people talking about how Valentine’s day isn’t really much of anything – or worse, a reminder that they are all alone. And so I’ve been moved to suggest that today, we remember to love ourselves – and of course anyone else who we want to lavish love on – but first and foremost, let’s do something nice for ourselves.
I’ll just briefly preface what comes next with an acknowledgement that relationships are important. Whether it’s friends, partners, spouses, siblings or colleagues, relationships can provide us with support, love, laughter, joy and company. These things are all extremely important – and we do need others in our lives. But sometimes, we spend so much time focusing on others, that we forget about ourselves. We, too, can provide ourselves with love, support, joy and company from time-to-time, but I’m not sure that many of us do that. We tend to become reliant on others to do this for us. So I’m suggesting that this Valentine’s day, we do for ourselves, even if it’s just for a minute.
In Gretchen Rubin’s book, the Happiness Project (yes, her again!), she quotes from something she read in college by Pierre Reverdy: “There is no love, there are only proofs of love.” She goes on to say, “Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only in my actions.” This is definitely fitting today – and every other day. But how often do we give ourselves ‘proofs of love’? How often do you acknowledge to yourself that one thing – or those many things – that you love about yourself? How often do you cultivate a loving feeling towards yourself? How often do you do something just for yourself? This is what I’m suggesting we do today – yes, do it for your loved ones too, but don’t forget to do it for you.
Start by cultivating feelings of love towards yourself. If you find that difficult, think of someone or something (like a pet) with whom you shared a reciprocal, unconditional love. And when you get that feeling of love in your heart, turn it on yourself. Because no matter who you are or how you’re feeling today, you are worthy of such love. Then decide how you can give yourself a ‘proof of love’. Do something for yourself today to show yourself how worthy you are, how great you are and how loved you are. Give yourself a proof of love, whatever that might be for you. Maybe it’s treating yourself to your favourite meal, cooked at home; maybe it’s eating that donut or croissant or bag of Cheetos with full enjoyment and no guilt. Maybe it’s watching an episode of your favourite tv programme – again – or soaking in a lovely warm bath with your favourite scents, bubbles, tipple or book. Maybe it's taking time to savour your coffee for that extra minute. Even if you have the good fortune to give a proof of love to your special someone today, take a wee bit of time to do the same for yourself. Because I doubt that anyone deserves it more than you.