Since I was a little girl I'd dreaded Valentine’s Day. I dreaded it because I never had a “real” valentine.
Oh sure, my dad would buy me flowers and chocolate but I did not have the attention or affection of boy. (I now realize what a gift it was to have my dad care enough to buy me gifts.)
I let Valentine’s Day be a reminder that I didn’t feel I was pretty enough, sexy enough, or womanly enough to have a boyfriend. These feelings continued to high school, college and into my adulthood.
Every Valentine’s Day I would be alone thinking no one thought I was worth spending time with or energy on. Even when I had a boyfriend he always seemed to be out of town or unavailable to spend time with me on this one particular day.
As I look back I really let my feelings of low self-esteem about my looks take over. Simply, I let Valentine’s Day be a trigger to deflate my self-esteem.
For many years I would value myself based on the things I did or the way I looked. I would have low self-esteem because I would compare myself to the people around me or what popular culture said was acceptable.
Since I am a high achiever I always could look at my accomplishments to help me feel good about myself. I was able to hide my low self-esteem about my body and my femininity through all the things I accomplished. On Valentine’s Day not having a boyfriend made me feel like I failed at being loveable.
In my late twenties I began to discover self-care. My life completely changed because I used the tools of self-care to raise my self-esteem from the inside out.
According to Christine Meinecke, PhD, author of "Self-care in a toxic world: Self-care may not be what you think it is" in Psychology Today published June, 4, 2010, self-care means choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation, or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, and engaging in psychotherapy.
I became so committed to learning about self-care I decided to go to naturopathic medical school and become an expert, and teach others how to create self-care in their lives as well.
The article pointed out that self-care and self-pampering are not the same thing. Self-care means to change your thinking everyday, to focus on creating esteem from the inside out.
In my own life it has taken years of practice and I still fall off the wagon from time to time. The practice of self-care helped me to change my low self-esteem to much higher esteem because I changed the way I talked and thought about myself.
I’m so pleased I took the time and did the work. Now I love myself each and every day.
This Valentine’s Day was a wonderful day! I woke up with a great attitude knowing that I was going to have a Valentine’s Day full of love and happy surprises.
I changed my thinking about this holiday to being grateful for all of the love and support I receive from friends and family. I relabeled upsetting thoughts and created positive thought patterns about Valentine’s Day about 5 years ago.
Now each year I have a more joyous time during this holiday. This might not seem like a terrific feat, however for me this was an extremely big win. I had a lovely day and shared my love with all of my friends and family.
Self-care is a practice, taking the time to create a healthy lifestyle and including eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising makes all the difference in the quality of life. Self-care combined with persistent self-love creates high self-esteem and a positive outlook on life no matter what day it is!
Dr. Dae is a Naturopathic Physician who practices in the Washington DC metro area treats the whole person using safe and effective combinations of traditional and natural methods to produce optimal health and well-being in the lives of her patients.
Greenberg, Melanie A., and Ph.D.. "Self-care in a toxic world | Psychology Today." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.
"Self-esteem: Boost your self-image with these 5 steps - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.
Reviewed February 16, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith