I am a self-proclaimed recovered hopeless romantic. I used to suffer from what I thought was an incurable case of desiring that tug-at-your-heartstrings, all-consuming kind of love you see in movies and read about in Nicholas Sparks novels. I latched on to storylines like they were a biblical text of what a relationship "should be." Valentine's Day was torture because, whether I admitted it or not, I was living in a world that didn't exist in the here-and-now, or at all, really. I felt incomplete without someone to love who loved me in return (Moulin Rouge's fault).
What I have since come to discover is that the aching/longing Hollywood-scripted version of love is manufactured idealism. I don't care for romantic movies like I used to as a result-- because it just feels so inauthentic and bullshitty. My younger self would call my current self a sell-out, but it's more of a selling up. I traded my bruised heart for a new one-- one that believes that true love only runs as deep as the love we have for ourselves. And if we can't find that, nothing anyone does for us will be enough to fill the void. We'll never feel complete.
Self-kindness/love is at the center of everything lasting and real. The way we view ourselves takes years to develop and is greatly influenced by so many factors. Reshaping our self-opinion/self-talk requires removing and reassembling all the pieces. It doesn't happen overnight. It's a process and one that requires continuous investment.
Here are some ways you can start incorporating self-kindness/love into your life, little by little every day, and make love a daily occurrence, not just a reminder of what you have (or don't have) on Valentine's Day.
- Write a Letter to Yourself, Today. Not Your Future Self.
Fill it with positive affirmations and appreciation for the person you are, at this very moment.
- Practice Self-Awareness
It's helpful to read things you wrote a few years ago and reflect on how much you've grown/changed since then. By doing this we confront our current reality. It's so easy to get caught up in an unrealized future or believe we're falling short somehow (especially when we compare our path to others'). We simply can't fully appreciate who and where we are, today, without historical context.
- Cultivate Gratitude.
What are you thankful for? What are you good at? In our daily lives we often get hung up on what we want/don't have, and it's easy to forget about what we do. Every day, write down something you're thankful for, even when it's hard to.
- Embrace Failure/Faults With an Open MInd and Heart
We all have faults and they take on different forms. Accept and embrace them. Focus on the things you can change. If it's something you can't, focus on other areas you can strengthen that can supersede the weaker areas. People don't improve through perfection. They improve through failures and how they learn and grow from them. So allow yourself to mess up. The more you can approach failure from a place of kindness and forgiveness, the easier it will be to move on from it.
- Turn Negative Self-Talk into a Positive/Real Convo.
Understand that negative self-talk is subjective and counterproductive. There's enough crap in the world without adding on to it with crappy thoughts about ourselves. Flip the conversation. You can't control the words and actions of others, but you can control your own. Ask yourself, would I say this about a loved one? A close friend? No? So why am I saying this about myself? How does this serve me?
Quite simply, it doesn't.