February is the month of love, and Valentine’s Day opens up everyone’s thoughts to romance and relationships. Valentine’s Day love is what we check when we are reminded of the value of love connections in our lives. Thanks to giving and receiving love, we can feel supported, connected and appreciated. Our whole life depends on having vital connections with others: we become healthier, more prosperous and more successful when surrounded by others who love us. Science provides lots of research that support the proposition that being alone and sad is not a good thing for your health, your pocket or your life.
However, this Valentine’s Day, you may feel that present or past abuse situation is preventing you from having love. Listen: if your loved one is abusing you, your priority is not to wait around for love demonstrations from them!
The first step in healing from abuse and saying “I will take no more” is to receive more love… from yourself!
A common tale we hear from abuse victims is “I’m just incapable of loving myself or anyone else.” This is 100% not true! Every person has the ability – some just don’t have enough strength.
That’s because “all you need is love” is an easy thing to say, but loving yourself in the face of humiliation and disrespect can be a hard mountain to climb. Don’t be afraid of the challenge – its worth every drop of sweat!
Look at what Marianne Williamson says: “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts. Love is…our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.”
Here are some ways to start loving yourself:
Put on your favorite clothes (or costumes!) for a few hours or all day. There doesn’t have to be any occasion except making yourself feel special!
Cook for yourself – household duties can be drilled into women as a “duty.” Release yourself from that oppressive mentality by cooking just for yourself. Go all out and put the finest dishes out!
Treat yourself to body care – use essential oils to bathe and massage your feet, or make a calming face mask. Pretend you are treating someone you love – because you are!
Make a picture of yourself – Using clipping from magazines, art books, cards or just drawings, create a collage of images and words that describe “you.” Keep in a private place, or just somewhere that you’re comfortable with. Look at it each day and soak in the images of your best moments, those that represent what you love about yourself. You’re looking at an image of your inner self!
Learn to see beauty in everyday life – seeing beauty in the world will help uplift your worldview and see yourself as a beautiful participant in a beautiful world. Nature is a good place to start – and if you don’t have any flowers to smell, plant your own!
Forgive yourself – for past mistakes you feel you made. Perhaps it was as a child, perhaps it was as an adult. Abusive behavior can make us internalize our guilt about things we did a long time ago, and make simple mistakes seem like damning ones. Let go the past! (And ask yourself, too – what have I really done, not just what I’ve been told I’ve done?)
Remember that as you learn to love yourself, you will begin to realize all the resources you have available to you in your friends, family and community. You will begin to trust in the strength of your self-esteem and trust the support provided by your relationships. Most importantly, your abuser loses the ability to hurt you emotionally – they can no longer convince you that you are worthless, and your self-fulfilling prophecy can end!