On January 28, 2017 I conducted what was admittedly a very informal survey on my Facebook page. I asked my friends to tell me which answer most closely aligned with their views about Valentine’s Day. 33 people responded(1), and here’s the breakdown of what they said(2)(3).

You may be wondering why I asked this question in the first place.

In essence, Valentine’s Day is a day (sometimes a month!) dedicated to love. Since the middle ages, this day has been about expressing romantic love. And like many holidays, over the years it has become severely commercialized. My assumption was that since I’ve personally experienced each of these potential answers at some point in my life (as well as some of the depression and low self-esteem angst that some respondents talked about when answering “E”), others had too. But I also wanted to see whether we’d collectively redefined and updated the holiday for current times.

What did I want to see?

Given the business I’m in, I honestly wanted to see more people saying “D – Self Love Day” (although I did not expect it). Although there’s some controversy over the wording of the “love yourself first” adage, one thing I see repeatedly when I coach clients is a pretty clear lack of self-love, and in talking with them I also see how this changes their relationship with others. They often don’t ask for what they need. They don’t set effective boundaries. They don’t feel they look the right way, so they don’t want to interact with potential partners. They focus on their flaws rather than their gifts. They don’t have time for themselves. They don’t invest in themselves. They’re waiting for [insert future thing here]. And they often come seeking more confidence.

I’ll posit that love starts small, and it starts close.

Anyone who’s ever done metta (lovingkindness meditation) will recognize that we start with: “May *I* be happy…”. After sending lovingkindness to ourselves, THEN we send it to others, and eventually out into the world (which may be needed more than ever). But it’s with the individual that it begins. (Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others!)

When I work with clients, one of the primary themes I see is that people are very hard on themselves. We need to stop beating ourselves up. No, we’re not perfect, and we never will be. We need to bring some balance to how we perceive ourselves: we have positive qualities, we have negative qualities. And if we love who we are, we love them both. We also love who we were, and we love who we have the potential to become. Without judgment. When you’re in a relationship, you have to accept the not-so-great stuff about your partner too. It comes with the package. So do you.

Without self-love, we may not feel we have anyone to show love to. But we ALWAYS have someone: we have ourselves.

I can almost hear people snickering while reading that. (I know because I can imagine myself having done just that a few years ago.) And take a moment to really let that snicker set in: how can you expect anyone else to see how fantastic you are if you don’t let that energy shine through?! It’s a catch-22 for sure. Some of us need to change that feedback loop.

How do you treat yourself? If you don’t care for yourself, can you love yourself?

When I first started dating my partner, he would say “I care about you.” It would frustrate me a bit. I wanted him to say the big three words: “I love you.” But as I write this years later, I now recognize and believe that “care” is a prerequisite for “love”. What naturally follows is that I think self-love first requires practicing self-care.

Make the time around this Valentine’s Day to sow the seeds of self-love.

Start small, start with you, start with self-care. Learn to make the time, spend the money, do what you need to do because you deserve to care for yourself! At first you may have to fake it. You may have to go through the motions. You may feel some stuff come up. But what–besides your self-esteem, your confidence, and your ability to love others–do you have to lose?

If you haven’t already felt it, I get it, and I’m here to help. If you’re the sort of person who knows you don’t truly love yourself (yet), but are ready to begin caring for yourself in small ways, or if you feel you could benefit from learning new ways of caring for yourself this month, please:

Join my 7-Day Self-Care Challenge over on Facebook

Every day for 7 days, you’ll get something in your Facebook feed that helps you take care of you. You’ll get to see others share what they’re doing (for encouragement, inspiration, motivation, and connection). It’s completely FREE and it’s your CHOICE to join. We start February 12 and go through the 18th. Invite friends, invite family, invite strangers. The more the merrier!

And, if you participate all 7 days, there will be a small gift for you. To learn more, head over to the Facebook group so you don’t miss it! 😉

(1) The chart totals 35 because some people indicated multiple answers.
(2) I summarized the answers with a catch phrase for the chart. The details were:

  • A – I could give 2 s**ts about Valentine’s Day–it’s a normal day for me.
  • B – It’s a nice sentiment but we don’t do anything special or we do something special AROUND that day so as to avoid the craziness
  • C – I love this day because I love my partner & want the world to see / know it! We have a magical day!
  • D – I use this day to show extra love & care toward myself.
  • E – Other (you tell me).

(3) I tallied responses on January 30, and more came in after…however those seemed to confirm what was already there.

A Challenge for You: the Meaning of Valentine’s Day
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