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Will you be YOUR Valentine this year? Self-love vs. Selfishness

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

During the week of flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals, and incessant advertising by jewelry companies, I thought it might be an appropriate time to sit back and consider what this holiday of love means outside of commercial pressures. Sure, it’s a blatant opportunity to remind those in our life that we love and care for them, and a glaring day of loneliness to those who may feel unloved without a romantic partner… but isn’t it more? Can’t it be more?

I think it should be. And is. And so is every day. It’s an opportunity to truly turn inward and show ourselves the love and care we need and deserve.

Have you ever hated yourself? Or, if not hated, perhaps berated? Chastised, verbally or mentally abused, physically abused through harm or guilty, angry eating? I know I have.

I know I’ve done a poor job of actually treating myself with the same love and respect I treat others. I have been a poor friend to me, been abusive and degrading, and really loathed my very existence on occasions. I’ve felt unlovable, beaten down inside, and unworthy of happiness. I thought that if I punished myself enough for my failures and ineptitudes it would somehow motivate me to improve, to suck less, to be a better person.

What I’ve learned over the last several years is that hating myself and dishonoring my body and mind has done no good at all. In fact, it’s only held me back, and made bumps in the road feel like mountains. When I started to honor myself, to love and nurture and pamper the internal and external me, I realized I could be a better person. I felt worthy. I felt like I was competent and resilient, and that I DO deserve happiness.

I have been thinking a lot about these things lately, particularly after I was feeling overwhelmed and overstretched with my to-do list, and posted a facebook status wondering how parents handle it all with children. I immediately got a whole chain of responses by parents saying things similar to “your children become your life” and that it’s all about “putting yourself second to them.” When I expressed my understanding that yes, children do become and ARE a main priority, but I think it’s important to balance the self in a life with children, I felt immediately “mommy-shamed” (and I’m not even a mom yet!), as if my admittance that self-love is still important somehow made me a selfish person and unfit to be a good parent.

Something occurred to me when I was pondering this interaction and social norm – self-sacrifice for the good of others: Loving yourself less does not mean you can therefore love others more. You do not better the world or others around you – be they your children or strangers in another continent – by self-sacrificing, self-deprecating, and self-abusing. Love is not a tangible thing (like money), where you give less to yourself and you have more to give to others. Love is endless, intangible, ever expanding and conceiving. The more you give, the more you have.

And the more you honor and love yourself, the better person you can be to others. You will feel valuable. You’ll feel honored and respected. And when you feel that way, you want others to feel it too. So you share of yourself, your time, your possessions, and love.

Now, I’m not saying that you should love your children less or love others less – I hope that’s clear. And I’m certainly not saying that you should put your “beauty rest” or personal pampering wants before the immediate needs of a baby’s diaper changing or tending to hungry children (i.e. being a responsible and loving parent). But what I am saying is that there is a way to keep self-love in our lives without it being selfishness. These things are not the same at all.

Self-love is about honor and respect of life. It’s about seeing God within you – precious and good – and allowing that light to shine forth to others. It’s about modeling a behavior of treating your SELF the way you want others to treat you, and you want to treat others!

Selfishness is about denying others and seeing no value outside the self. It’s a callous armor of cowardice, a refusal to open and be vulnerable or share with others. It is not love, and it disrespects the value of others in your life.

Can you see how these things are sooooooo not the same thing?

When you make a practice of including time and activities in your life that honor your talents and interests, and nurture both your body and soul, you can truly be a better person/parent/sibling/friend/e
tc. You earn no medallions and save no lives by disrespecting and belittling your self and your own worth in your life.

So, I ask you this today: Will you be your own Valentine? How can you choose to honor and love yourself in a way that makes you a better parent, and a happier, more conscious person? What gift will you give yourself this week—and next week, and the week after –to renew the love you have for you? For many of my clients, even a simple 30 minutes set aside for a bubble bath or a designated activity they enjoy just for them can be the perfect way to nourish and refresh the body, mind, and soul.

I would love to hear what you’re going to do this week as your act of self-love and care. Please comment below, or share on facebook (/shelivesfit) or in an email. You are worthy of love. Even by you.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    love this blog couldnt agree more xxxx
    1665 days ago
    Beautifully put.
    1678 days ago
    Even as a mom, you need to love and take care of yourself. It recharges you.
    1678 days ago
    Remember the metaphor from the airline stewardess, "Put your own oxygen mask on first before you assist another"
    This also holds true with our health. We are of no use to others if we ourselves are incapacitated.
    We have an obligation to care for ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is not to be done necessarily to the detriment of others, but to insure we can be our best and give our best.
    Keep sparking!
    1679 days ago
    GREAT blog, and so very true!
    1679 days ago
    This is so true. Great blog! I feel that in day to day lie we become so entwined with jobs, families that we forget that, we as an individual cannot participate well without taking care of ourselves first. And like you said, you have to be your best friend! All this time i never realized how crappy i was being to myself. Thanks ! emoticon
    1679 days ago
    I hate the way so many people feel the need to "one-up" others. Parenting is not a competitive sport! I once read an excellent parenting book where the author felt that the current "kid-centered" culture was not healthy for the children, or their parents. I completely agree. Kids do best when they are not treated as pampered princesses, or the the center of the family universe. Of course, they need time, attention and love, but not at expense of their parent's mental and physical well-being. Balance is important in family life, as in everything else. Good blog!
    1679 days ago
    wash my hair,lol.correct that find the time to wash my hair.sometimes such a simple thing to do can seem doesn´t mean i love myself any less it just means therte are other things that need doing more.great blog whitney are you?keep on being you.i love you as your are-take care and keep smiling. emoticon
    1679 days ago
    Love this blog. I have a really hard time w/ self-confidence and self-acceptance a lot, so thanks for the reminders to love myself. Have a very happy Valentines Day!
    1679 days ago
    I will be working most of Valentine's Day, but I will take time to myself to workout, eat well, and read. These are the things that I need in order to keep myself a positive force for others.
    1679 days ago
    I have experienced the mommy-shaming and it doesn't really make sense to me. Not only has running been good for me, it is much better for my son too. He likes the mom that comes home from a run, playful and excited to see him Vs. the one that is there before the run, played out and stressed. I take an hour to myself everyday and allow my husband the same and we are both much more balanced and better parents because of it. And neither of us has "lost ourselves" in the experience of new parenthood! Loved your blog.
    1679 days ago
    Mommyshamers might also choose to think of it this way: Give your child a healthy, energetic, fabulous mother!
    1679 days ago
    Tough to do but so important... thanks for sharing.

    1679 days ago
    Learning this lesson was they key to my weight loss! It has made me a better friend, wife, mother, daughter and teacher.

    I learned how to be my own best friend and my own hero.
    1679 days ago
  • GINA180847
    I have always felt that if I don't love myself how will others want to love me. This started when I was a young woman and read a book called 'You are not a garbage can'. It was all about not grazing or eating the things left over on the plates of others. It started a thought process about this very thing. How could I have children who cared about themselves if I did not model this behavior.
    So I am going to buy myself a kayak that I saw. It is tiny, just for me. Hubby does not want to try this as his balance is not good anymore. But I look forward to paddling along the shore and listening to my mp3. I will wear a life jacket, promise! emoticon
    1679 days ago
    The one thing I know is certain that I will be doing for myself tomorrow is a good run! That's my ME time and I really cherish it.

    Thanks for sharing your FB page info. I will look for it tonight.

    Great blog; thank you!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1679 days ago
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