“How do you spell ‘love’?” –Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” –Pooh
—A.A. Milne, “Winnie The Pooh”
You were raised on tales of Prince Charming coming to your rescue and thereby proving his undying love. You’ve seen numerous movies and read many books where strong, feisty women are nevertheless in need of rescuing by the men of their dreams.
While you may no longer be reading fairy tales, you may unconsciously still be living by the messages they taught, messages that are part of the fabric of your girly thoughts, those that tell you your self-worth depends largely on how someone else values you, even loves you.
Valentine’s Day—A Day That Proves Your . . . Self-Worth?
Perhaps on no other day do these messages play out as they do on Valentine’s Day . . . the day your “prince” will prove your genuine lovability.
As a result, you are probably putting a great deal of importance on this one day.
We pressure our partners to use traditional tokens of love and appreciation— cards, flowers, chocolates, perhaps even Champagne—to demonstrate our importance in their lives and prove their devotion to us. If they fail in some way, we are tempted to feel diminished, less important, and—sadly—unloved or unlovable.
As a Result, You Feel Held Hostage
You put pressure on yourself to be seen and rewarded, signifying that all the sacrifices you made were “worth it.” And if you are not rewarded as you feel you should be, your girly thoughts tell you the fault lies within you, and you must try harder, do more. Or your girly thoughts tell you you’re not loveable because you are too old, not exciting, too fat or too thin, and the inner monologue about your real or imagined negative qualities goes on . . . and on . . . and on.
In this way, Valentine’s Day holds you hostage, creating anxiety and uncertainty, draining you of your power as you unwittingly give it over to another person.
This is the exact opposite of what you’d hoped for.
Does Waiting to Be Loved Work for You?
If waiting to be loved actually makes you anxious and miserable, I suggest an alternative:
Why not (also) love yourself?
This isn’t meant to subtract from your loved one’s importance in your life, merely to balance it by also caring for and cherishing yourself.
Yes, you can still be appreciative of the gifts from your partner, boyfriend, or husband, but you also give yourself something perhaps even more important . . . self-love and self-appreciation!
Appreciate Yourself on Valentine’s Day
You may be planning a romantic dinner with your boyfriend. If you have children, you may be putting valentines in their lunch boxes. Perhaps you’ll be posting a Valentine’s Day message on Facebook for your friends and family.
But what about you? What can you give yourself on this day of love?
Make Yourself a Priority
Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- Plan what you are going to wear on Valentine’s Day in a leisurely way Instead of just focusing on what you will be making for dinner, think about yourself. Ask yourself: What looks good on me? Which outfit makes me feel good about myself? What do I feel comfortable wearing?
- As you wear your favorite clothes on Valentine’s Day, tell yourself: I look good!
- Write down two things you really like about yourself. You don’t have to display that list, but put it somewhere you’ll see it—and say those words out loud each time you do
- Think of ways you can act on those qualities and get others to also see them. For example, if you like your voice, sing in your car, sing at work, or entertain your partner. If you feel you are a valuable part of your work team and have something important to say in a meeting, lean in and say it.
- Give yourself “attagirls” throughout the day for stepping out of your comfort zone and into your power.
- Tell yourself . . . I love you.
Now you’re creating a day full of love . . .
Remember—as Winnie the Pooh says…you don’t need to spell love, you just need to feel it, within yourself.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)
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and coming in 2014
Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)
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Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com
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