I quite like Valentine’s. But maybe it’s easy for me. I have a lovely husband willing to take me out for dinner – yes, public dinner on Valentine’s night, when any self-respecting in-a-long-term-relationship person should be being all anti-Valentine’s… What a sweetheart.
It’s important to have love in your life – but it doesn’t have to adhere to the Hallmark version. Love comes from many sources – good friends, family members, pets. Sometimes, even strangers can show incredible compassion and love – those moved to volunteer in war-torn countries, those who risk their own lives for others in moments of sheer bravery, more who dedicate their entire life’s work to worthy causes. As a race we’re designed to connect and reach-out and nurture and – I like to believe most of the time – we are inherently good and kind. We want to love and be loved.
Yesterday my sister shared a link to a worth-reading (yes, another) Cup of Jo article, which centred around self. Self-worth, self-confidence, self-love. That late 20th century phenomenon of ‘we’re worth it’. On the outside, it can appear to be a very selfish idea – that notion that you look after and put yourself first – and yet it’s fundamentally important. If we can’t love and care for ourselves, there’s no way we’ll be capable of doing it for others. If we can’t give ourselves a break every so often, how can we hope to be truly compassionate to another being?
So on this auspicious day I’m taking a new view and spreading some self-love vibes. At work, sometimes 80% is fine. (Unless you’re a doctor, obviously). Yes do your best, but it’s never going to be perfect. So get the job done, learn from it, add to your experience. Make some time – get up 10 minutes earlier, turn off the TV – and do something that nourishes you. Stretch, daydream, sing, solve a rubix cube, whatever. If you’re feeling under the weather, get fixed or at least make an appointment. Take a nap, leave the dishes, don’t bother ironing. Meet up with your friends, or don’t! Give yourself a break. Self-love can be all about action or about taking as little action as possible.
Be kind to yourself. You’re doing enough.
Of course, human nature determins that there’s always plenty of room for improvement. Two good friends have been cheerfully mentoring me (I might even use the word ‘bullying’) towards ‘minding myself’ a bit more and taking more ‘me’ time. One even reminded me of the rule implemented when the pressure drops on an aircraft whereby you fix your own oxygen mask before that of your child. Light bulb moment! And believe me, their encouragement isn’t for want of same from my husband, family and wider circle of friends. You see, there comes a danger of becoming a mother-martyr-bore and that’s nobody’s cup of tea. There’s something about being at home, minding your own children, that can make you go a little off-kilt and begin to feel that you have no real time to live a life yourself. I blame Mother Nature. By the time the flurry of having a new born dies down a little, having a low-fat life and being constantly ‘busy’ has established itself as a bad heroin-like habit. When you’re at home full-time, (no – the house is not even vaguely clean or tidy) any reasonable sense of balance can easily go out the window. This is not new folks, it’s age old and Loooord is it boring!
You can be a martyr to your job, your relationship, your family & friends… You just need to realise it’s not getting you anywhere, any time fast, and combat it with some time, fun and indulgence.
The very difficult thing about self-love is, you have to do it yourself. No one can do it for you. It’s a gift only you can give yourself. So get giving, for the day that’s in it. Saint Valentine has the martyr thing covered for today at least…
Check out that Cup of Jo article here: Advice To My Younger Self