Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Self Love on Valentine's Day

It is Valentine’s Day and while many are celebrating with their loved ones, some are either alone or in a relationship that is not loving.  The song “I Want to Know What Love Is” from Foreigner was likely meant about a budding relationship between two people, with all the fears of being hurt again, but still wanting to know love again.

One could however, look at the lyrics and say them, (or sing them, if that’s your thing) to oneself, maybe even standing in front of the mirror.  “I want to know what love is.  I want you to show me…. In this life there’s been heartache and pain. I don’t know if I can face it again. I can’t stop now. I’ve travelled so far. To change this lonely life” (Written and Composed by Mick Jones, Performed and released by Foreigner, 1984).  

We often forget to love the most important person, ourselves.    We may hold onto guilt for things we have not done, or experience self hate or self loathing for missed opportunities, or actions not taken.  Sometimes, we are the ones who impose the most heartache and pain on ourselves and only we can forgive ourselves. We might sort of give up and decide that this is as good as life is going to get.  We may not want to face the pain of revisiting that which robs us of love, but it is only through revisiting and understanding that we can move towards forgiveness.  The journey may not be short or easy, but you can come through the other side with more self understanding and maybe, just maybe, love for yourself again.

That’s all great, but how?  Katie Byron wrote the book “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” (2002) that explores acceptance and loving what is.  The four questions she asks are:

  1. Is it True?
  2. Can I absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do I react when I think that thought?
  4. Who would I be without the thought?

These are very powerful questions that ask you to look at your beliefs and thoughts that are leading to your inability to truly and fully love oneself.  The process follows paths seen in psychology such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).  CBT rests on some very simple fundamentals: thoughts create feelings, feelings create behaviour and behaviour reinforces thoughts.  Katie Byron’s book starts the process of questioning your thoughts and feelings asking if those thoughts are really true and how do you react to them.  The last question, who would I be without them, gets you to look at behaviour.  What would your life look like, and what would you be doing differently if you did not have and believe that thought?

  1.  Take a moment to think about something that might be holding you back from fully loving yourself or accepting yourself, just as you are.  Write it down.
  2. Ask yourself, is it true and can I absolutely know that it is true. Write down your answers. 
  3. Close your eyes and think about the thought.  What are you feeling, emotionally and physically? Again, write down the answers.  The act of writing it down uses a different part of your brain and makes you think about it in a new way.
  4. Now imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have that thought?  Who would you be?  What would you do different? 
  5. Write down the things you would do differently and pick one thing to do right now.  Put into action one small thing right now.  Break down the action into it’s parts so that there is something you can act on immediately, even if it is just to send an email or make a call. 
  6. Start to be the person without the thought you had.  One step at a time.  It may feel forced at first, but over time, it will be easier and more natural. 

This Valentine’s Day, take time to show yourself some love.  You are a good person.  You are deserving of love.  You are a unique and special person, worthy of living a great life.

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