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Love Yourself

by Amber Tolbert

Have you noticed all the Valentine’s Day décor, candy boxes, and stuffed animals lately in the stores? To be honest, I think I started seeing red and pink hearts and teddy bears replacing wreaths and reindeer ornaments even before December was at a close.

You may have a love/hate (or mostly hate) relationship with Valentine’s Day. It could be you’re single. It could be that you’ve been hurt so many times in past relationships that you’ve just given up on finding the “right one.” It could be that you refuse to fall for all the hoopla that this commercialized holiday boasts. Regardless of the reason, looking ahead to February 14th with either dread or animosity can mean something much deeper…a hurt that you’ve felt for longer than you’d care to admit.

One of the negatives of Valentine’s Day is that society puts so much emphasis on what one person does for another. The act of demonstrating love—buying flowers and candy or making expensive dinner reservations—becomes more important than the relationship itself. It’s no wonder so many people who don’t receive a surprise gift from that “special someone” feel left out, or worse, as though they aren’t as loved as seemingly everyone else.

Is this you? Do you pretend that Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist or shamelessly seek the bottom of a pint of ice cream just to get through the day? What if, instead, you found the value you’re seeking first in yourself?

Our childhoods create the blueprint for how our lives will be as adults. As we grow, we adopt learned behaviors, some of which can be how we relate to others and find value in ourselves. Some behaviors can be good, but others can be harmful, both to ourselves and our relationships. When we rely on an external source—a particular person, for instance—for love, happiness, and a feeling of acceptance, we can develop codependent behaviors that will leave us spending the rest of our lives chasing after a feeling of wholeness and recognition.

Learning how to overcome these tendencies, to see the intrinsic value we hold, regardless of how others regard us, is just one step in moving beyond codependency. It takes time to see why we act toward others as we do, and it takes time to rewrite our narrative and feel secure in ourselves and our relationships. But by devoting the necessary time to learning self-love, you can heal old wounds and realize that you are loved, happy, and accepted.

This February, spend some time acknowledging who you are. See the value you give to your relationships. Celebrate yourself.

And if you are expecting to spend Valentine’s Day alone, go buy those flowers and candy or make a personal reservation just for yourself. You are worth it. And you are loved.

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