Repurposing Valentine’s Day: Recognizing the Importance of Self-Love & Self-Worth
I don’t really have anything against Valentine’s Day at its core. The idea of having a day that’s dedicated to reveling in and celebrating love is pretty sweet (no pun intended).
But I do sometimes wish that V-day was a little less focused on our partners (presuming we have them) and a little more focused on something I feel we need more of in our society: truly loving ourselves.
Our lack of self-love manifests itself in hundreds of subtle ways. It shows up in the form of our negative self-talk, our lack of self-esteem, our tendency to overwork ourselves, our fear of taking risks, and so on. Most of us treat ourselves worse than we would ever allow others to treat us.
And, of course, I’m not promoting narcissism, but I’d argue that that end of the spectrum is a fairly far leap from where most of us presently stand when it comes to our relationship with ourselves.
So what’s leading me to want to talk about this, anyway?
Well, here’s some post-Valentine’s Day vulnerability for you:
I recently realized that I haven’t been valuing myself highly enough.
Now, I’m not exactly sure where that germinated for me or how it came to pass (although that would be an excellent topic for a counseling session), but some events that recently transpired in my life tore me open and revealed this difficult truth lying at my core.
And after acknowledging and accepting this tough, somewhat embarrassing, reality, I realized that there are probably others out there (potentially a lot of others) who could be in the same boat I’d been in: obliviously undervaluing themselves.
So, today I’d like to walk you through an exercise that will help you gauge whether you’re valuing yourself highly enough. It will involve asking yourself some hard questions, and – in order to get the most benefit from it – you’ll need to be raw, honest, and vulnerable in answering them.
1. On an individual level:
(a) How well do you treat yourself?
(b) How do you talk to yourself? -What stories do you tell yourself?
(c) How highly do you value your own time?
(d) What boundaries do you set for yourself? -Do you consistently honor them?
(e) What needs do you have, and how well are they being met?
2. With respect to others: (including your partner, friends, family, boss, coworkers, etc.)
(a) How do you allow other people to treat you? -Do you correct them, call them out, or remove them from your life if they mistreat you?
(b) What kinds of people do you choose to surround yourself with? -What values do they ascribe to?
(c) What boundaries do you set for others? -Are they being honored?
(d) What do you need from others in your life? -Are the people you have in your life meeting your needs?
Going through this exercise and answering the questions honestly can often provide us with the reality check we need to gain awareness of areas where we could make some improvements and show ourselves a bit more love.
For instance, if you noted that your self-talk is packed with criticism and judgment, and the people in your life don’t treat you as well as you’d like (or deserve), then that’s a signal that perhaps you haven’t been valuing yourself as highly as you should be. And, armed with that knowledge, you can take action – whether on your own or with a coach – to address and correct that issue.
Less obviously, however, if you found yourself struggling to answer any of these questions (especially the ones around boundaries or “what you need”), then that could also signal that you might not be valuing yourself highly enough.
If you don’t perceive yourself to be valuable, then it tends to follow that you also don’t view yourself as worthy or deserving of having needs or boundaries. So that may be the reason you’re having trouble identifying them for yourself.
Especially if you fall into this second bucket (which I did), I would strongly encourage you to work with a counselor or coach to help you work through whatever limiting beliefs you may have around valuing yourself.
But this is the really tough part to swallow:
it’s on YOU to value yourself,
it’s on YOU to not let people treat you poorly (and to call them out on it, hold them accountable, or cut them out of your life when they do),
it’s on YOU to set and honor/uphold boundaries for yourself, and
it’s on YOU to respect and love yourself in the way that you deserve to be loved and respected.
So if you’re like me and have discovered that you haven’t been valuing yourself as highly as you should be…
I hope you’ll start seeing your worth.
I hope you’ll make the choice to find your voice and stand up for yourself.
I hope you’ll have the strength and courage to say no to any relationship that no longer serves you.
I hope you’ll take some concrete actions to start treating yourself with more love, compassion, and respect.
And I hope you’ll join me in repurposing next Valentine’s Day and leveraging the holiday as both an opportunity to remind ourselves of how valuable we are as well as a chance to give ourselves the love we deserve.