As we approach Valentine’s Day, the traditional day of love, I cannot stop thinking of the importance of self-love. One of my favorite philosophers, Joseph Campbell, said “as we love ourselves, we move toward our own bliss.” Even though Valentine’s Day is the day of love, it is often filled with expectation and disappointment whether we are in a relationship or not. My thought is: what would happen if we would broaden the concept of Valentine’s Day to be about self-love and self-care? Then we could take positive steps towards creating a day of fulfillment and potentially bliss.
In the past year, I have made the step towards bliss by recreating what I do, which is personal life coaching and career coaching, and the one thing I have found with so many of my clients is the difficulty of making a distinction between loving oneself and being selfish. Somehow self-love and self-care are viewed as being selfish and intertwined with guilt. Well, guilt is a subject I know well. I grew up in New York City going to Catholic School for nine years and lived in a Jewish neighborhood. I call it my double guilt. I still have guilt from time to time, but I recognize it for what it is. But, I was lucky to receive an incredible gift of wisdom from my mother that helped me realize the distinction between guilt, selfishness and self-care. I don’t remember exactly how she said it, but she made it clear to me that my body is my temple, I am responsible for taking care of it and I cannot trade it in for another one. This little morsel of wisdom made me realize that if I don’t care of myself and love myself than I cannot love anyone else or take care of anyone else.
I am now a 42-year old mother of a beautiful three year old boy and I hope to pass on my mother’s wisdom . While I was growing up, this wisdom kept me concentrated on sports and not smoking, on love and not drugs, on curiosity and not recklessness. So as approach this holiday of love, what would happen, if we took Joseph Campbell’s wisdom, combined it with my mother’s advice and applied it to our adult lives? What would that look like for each of us? How would we focus our attention to achieve self-love and self-care? Each of us needs to decide what self-love and self-care is for us – maybe it’s regular massages, maybe it’s forgiving ourselves for the past and loving ourselves just as we are. Here are some questions to help you create your own definition:
• What do you love about yourself?
• What are your special gifts?
• How do you treat yourself?
• What do you love to do and when was the last time you did it?
• How do you take care of the body temple you have right now?
• What would it take for you to love yourself and take care of yourself not only on Valentine’s Day but every day of the year?
Love opens all possibilities. I am convinced that if we all really loved ourselves and took the responsibility of taking care of ourselves, then all of our relationships would benefit – whether it is with our lovers, mothers, fathers, daughter, sons, or friends. Self-love is the path to bliss and healthy relationships. So, take time this month to be a great lover to yourself. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Wayfinder Coach, Robin Schepper, leads Wise Walking Retreats and is a personal coach to individuals and groups. After 20 years of helping clients with their communications strategies, Robin now helps individuals achieve the results they want. Contact www.wayfinderinc.com.