When I started on the path of choosing love almost a decade ago, one of the first questions I set out to answer was this:
Can you truly love another if you don’t love yourself?
I was genuinely puzzled by this question, but over time, I’ve come to understand that we can’t give what we don’t have. Said another way, choosing love occurs from the inside out.
Loving oneself includes “self-care” like massages, quality time with loved ones, and sleep. We can learn to love ourselves through our relationship with God, a contemplative practice, therapy, or resilience that reveals our strength of heart through challenges.
But however we come to it, truly loving yourself means being your own steady, compassionate friend.
We must love ourselves first, and to love ourselves, we must be willing to see all of who we are – from the most celebrated strengths to the muck in dark, dusty corners. We must be willing to be with everything we find and bring love to it, if even for a moment.
Love is an intimate action. It’s not a declaration, though it may start as that.
So on this Valentine’s Day, whether you are single, married, partnered, or otherwise, please take some time to get to know something new about yourself or to dive a bit deeper into something you already know. Perhaps in quiet time or through journaling, ask yourself some of the following questions:
What have I learned about myself so far this year?
What am I not willing to see about myself?
In which relationships do I come forward and in which do I hide?
For what would I like to acknowledge or champion myself?
Perhaps there are other questions that may be revealed to you.
Then, create some time to fill your tanks. Go for a walk in nature, meditate and pray, or take a courageous action towards what matters most.
From this place of self-nourishment, show up to your date or to your evening alone time. Notice how the time you carved out earlier in the day affects you.
Because isn’t it the truth? Whether you’re being showered with gifts and taken to a 5-star restaurant or you’re cuddling up in bed with a book on Valentine’s Day, today is one of 365 this year in which we can build a sustainable and lasting love; and a love that sustains must start within.