Here we are again, February, the month of love. This year, and every year, let us be our own lovers.
Recent years have been an interesting journey for me, a never-ending process of introspection and learning and growth and self-discipline. I have been learning to love both my divinity and my humanity. My awesomeness and my flawsomeness. My independence and my neediness. To paraphrase the song: self-acceptance is another word for nothing left to hide.
Take off our masks and show up as we are.
When we remove the facial covering, we open ourselves to more self-compassion, and we honor and accept our humanness. Things will not always go the way we want. We will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, we will make mistakes, bump up against our limitations, and fall short of our ideals. This is a universal truth for us all.
I have learned that I must step out of old fears and move forward with all this work and growth. I can only be as big as the fears I conquer. To this end, I keep moving the needle. I continue to say to the Universe: “Bring it on! Whatever you have in store, I’ll give it my best shot!”
I try something new and succeed and feel joy, respect, and pride for myself, and then I move the target again. If I fail, I use it as a stepping stone to show up differently and learn from mistakes. I’ve ticked things off my bucket list, and I’ve pushed my physical and emotional limits, so they are forever evolving. I take my perfectly imperfect self and show up for something new.
I am the crab who keeps outgrowing its hard shell and then making myself softer and more vulnerable so I can grow into a bigger shell. Repeatedly, I am molting and growing and stepping out.
I have challenged myself and fallen deeply in love: with myself. I am happy and grateful and proud of myself. It is a never-ending journey, not a one-and-done. There is no done.
Love comes from “within,” not from “out there.” Self-integrity is paramount to achieving self-love. One’s word is not only golden but is also the ticket to achieving self-love. Even self-integrity, however, is not enough. To love ourselves, we must self-actualize and live up to our soul’s potential. We must understand we have a purpose on earth that transcends the drama of our lives. We need to be bigger than our smallness.
Too often, we live our lives being “other referenced.” We judge our worth based on how others perceive us. We people-please and over-give and twist ourselves into a pretzel to be digestible to others. How can we love ourselves when we think people love us for the person we are showing them, not the person we believe ourselves to be? We must become self-referenced. Having compassion for ourselves and where we are in life is the first step. Learning to honor ourselves and make ourselves a priority—oh no, you may say, how selfish—are necessary steps to self-love. Setting healthy boundaries and learning to say no, instead of always saying yes, (when we want to say no) also adds to our love and respect for ourselves. When you prioritize your needs, your love and respect for yourself multiply.
Self-love comes first. Self-love is the baseline. How can anyone love me if I can’t love myself?
So, my love for myself grows steadily through all my learning and teaching, experiencing and growing. But I also understand that I need love from others. I need to love myself enough to open my heart to the love of another. My hard-shell needs to soften and stay soft. My hard-shell needs to give way to vulnerability and the fear of being broken open again. I am learning to trust that my huge heart loves me so completely and can withstand anything that comes my way. I can be that strong and that soft at once—and so can you.
We are all works in progress. We need to feel free, empowered, grateful, and hopeful. Let us stay open to possibilities. This is the month of love. Let us not only give love but more importantly, let us honestly and bravely receive love.
Thank you, Universe, for showing us the way.
To solidify your self-love, try these daily affirmations:
- I am worthy of love, flaws and all
- I am resilient
- I try my best, and that is enough
- My goal is progress, not perfection
- I am exactly where I need to be
- I release negative thoughts about me
- I accept all of me with love
- I shower myself with compassion
- Everything in life happens for me
- I am loved
Action step: Each morning, before you step out of bed, ask yourself: What is the most self-honoring thing I can do for myself today? Then make that commitment to yourself, following through and watching as your self-love, self-respect, and self-confidence grow.
When you stop and think about it, what else is there but love?
Nancy Pickard is a Certified Master Integrative Coach, author, speaker, and mentor. She is the author of the international bestseller, Bigger Better Braver: Conquer your fears, Embrace your Courage and Transform your life.
She knows what it takes to help people achieve big goals. She holds multiple personal training certifications and has focused on health and wellness for almost 20 years. She lives by example. In 2017, she undertook her biggest challenge, climbing Kilimanjaro at 61. Her passion is coaching others to step out of fear and into bigger versions of themselves