Love Thyself

There is a lot of love in the air – and a lot of hype, too. What used to be a cute thing to do with the kids, or something that you would do with a new sweetheart has now turned into a multi-million-dollar industry! Expectations have risen, as well. It used to be that a simple card, carnations (or roses for a very significant other), or some chocolates would be expected of a beau, but, now, it’s jewelry, trips, and other big ticket items! And woe be to anyone who finds themselves partner-less on V Day! I, however, have a slightly different take on Valentine’s Day…

I am a firm believer in the many different types of love. The Greeks had 6 different words for “Love”, each with their own nuances. Ranging from camaraderie, or “brotherly love”, to the love between family members, to the best-known Eros, or “sexual love”, the Greeks knew that love was not confined to our sexual partner, and I think we need to extend that thinking to our expectations of the day when we celebrate Love. Ultimately, in our modern society, when we are constantly drained by all of the demands placed on us, I think the most precious love is the love we hold for ourselves. For, if we are drained, if our “love cups” are not filled, how can we then give to someone else? So, instead of focusing on hyping up romantic love, we need to learn how to love ourselves!

What does loving yourself mean, in today’s real world, especially with the pandemic going on? Part of it means realizing that living in a state of total exhaustion doesn’t do anyone any good. We are taught that it is selfish to ensure that our own needs are met, especially if it conflicts with another person’s. This is just not true! Just like when in an airplane, you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on, first, it’s the same when it comes to making sure your needs are met. Now, I’m talking about needs, not wants or desires. We have a need for healthy food, decent clothes, adequate sleep, positive physical contact, emotional support, and a safe and clean environment. We can go without these needs being met for a short period of time, but they do need to be met!

If we don’t meet those basic, essential needs, we can end up with stress, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and be more prone to emotional and psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. (Sound familiar, anyone?) All of these things are contributors to poor health, physical as well as mental. Withholding sleep is considered to be a form of torture, and yet, we do this to ourselves all the time!

So, in real terms, what does this look like? If you live alone, it could mean making a date with friends to do a Netflix Watch Party, or dressing up in your Cosplay costumes and posting pics online. Putting on some music and rocking out in the living room, or going out to the mountains for a hike in the fresh air. Or, curling up with a blanket and a good book, and shutting off your Facebook notifications. It could even mean reaching out to another single friend, or be as simple as booking a massage. And, yes, it could also be the traditional soak in a tub with bath salts and candles.

If you live with others, this could mean spending some time playing a game with your children, and letting them create the rules. Let your older children help you make a special, healthy meal. Or, cuddle up with your significant other. Or, let your partner take the kids outside for an energetic slide down the snowy hill while you get some much-needed peace and quiet. What this looks like for you will be different than what it looks like for someone else. Replenish. Do what feeds your body, your mind, and your soul.

So, instead of restricting ourselves to celebrating romantic relationships, reach out to friends and family. Make sure to include those who may be feeling alone. Plan a girl’s night watching movies, or host a virtual night in with the bro’s. Give your grandmother a call. Send (peanut-free!) cookies to your child’s class (school-permitting, of course!). Hand out chocolate kisses at work. Or, simply pay attention to the love that is all around us. By doing this, we are reducing the stress we are exposed to continuously, we are backing away from such a material (and unfulfilling) society, and we are refreshing our own selves and our outlook on the world. And that is the best kind of Love of them all!

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