My best friend’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. When she was growing up, she thought all of the decorative hearts and XOXO signs at the mall and other places around town were put up in her honor. Isn’t that just lovely?
There’s so much security in that childhood feeling of being treasured and adored. I know, sadly, that not all kids get to experience that feeling. And adults rarely get to experience it again. We certainly don’t do a good job of celebrating ourselves (or each other) in that lavish, just-because-you’re-you kind of way.
There’s so much security in that childhood feeling of being treasured and adored.
In fact, February can be a tricky time for us psychologically. It’s the dead of winter, and the weather is often dreary. The big holidays have passed, and February 14 can feel a bit lonely if you’re not married or partnered (or even if you are). To top it all off, many of us are already lamenting the failure of our New Year’s resolutions and wondering if we will ever make the habits that seem to promise a better version of ourselves if we will only change X,Y, or Z.
If you find yourself caught in this muck-and-mire February slump, I have a proposal for you. How about a little self-love this Valentine’s Day—and some love for your kids, too, while you’re at it? So much of the messaging we see in today’s culture is about what’s wrong with us and what we need to change. Let’s be counter-cultural and focus instead on what’s right.
I like to call this exercise “Playing Cupid.”
Write down a list of 10 or more qualities you see in yourself…single words that describe who you are and what you are already doing well. Maybe you are especially creative or determined or resilient, for example. (If you didn’t write them down, go get a pen and do it!) Every day from now through Valentine’s Day, choose one of those words and think about how you live into that quality as a mom, dad, co-worker, or friend. How can you celebrate what you love about yourself and the amazing person you are?
How can you celebrate what you love about yourself and the amazing person you are?
A fun way to do this exercise for your kids is to cut out pink and red hearts from construction paper and write down the qualities you see in them, one per heart. Every morning in February leading up to Valentine’s Day, tape one on their door. As the day goes on, remember to tell your child/teen specific examples of how you see that quality in them. When it’s all over, they have a door full of reasons you love and celebrate them every day, not just for who you want them to become, but for who they already are.
Now that I think about it, why not put the hearts on your own door, too? Because even if no one has told you so lately, you ARE worth that level of love and adoration.
Ann Bell Worley is a writer, presenter, and mother of two children, one of whom has a rare XY chromosome difference as well as an elusive neuroimmune disorder. She is the author of two children’s storybooks based on Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA) and the creator of www.graycoloredglasses.blog, which focuses on the challenges of parenting a medically complex child.
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