learning to love yourselfI wonder when the trend began, for sending flowers to your love on Valentine’s Day?

My husband dutifully turned up at the florist yesterday and was told that a bunch of flowers would cost him £90 – capitalism gone mad, in my view. What I find sad is that someone, who can less afford to spend £90 than we can, probably did buy the flowers, to prove his/her love to his/her wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/loved one.

What if we didn’t have to prove our love by buying gifts? What if it were so obvious, from the things we say and do, that we love not only our nearest and dearest, but can also extend our love to total strangers?

You might be thinking: “how can I love a total stranger – I don’t know them, and I might not even like them”. I’ll admit that I found the concept of loving total strangers hard to swallow myself, at first, because we reserve the word “love” for very special circumstances.

In the case of loving total strangers, could you replace the word “love” with “show respect for” or “give a fair chance to”? In other words, rather than coming to a negative conclusion about someone within the first couple of seconds of meeting them – because you don’t like the colour of their hair, or the style of their clothes – how about suspending your judgement and getting into conversation with them? You might find out something interesting about them – or about yourself.

What we find objectionable in others is usually a reflection of something we don’t like in ourselves. It’s important to recognise this, because until we can love ourselves, it’s virtually impossible for us to truly love anyone else. The problem is, we’ve tended to attach the idea of “vanity” to self-love, which is a mistaken view.

Learning To Love Yourself

There’s nothing wrong with “loving” yourself – “having respect for yourself”, “giving yourself a fair chance”. Whitney Houston popularised a song, by Michael Masser and Linda Creed, which contained the lyrics: “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”. So if you haven’t yet learned to love yourself, perhaps it’s worth taking a moment to think about it.

You don’t have to buy yourself a £90 bunch of flowers to prove you love yourself, but you could treat yourself to some of the things you really enjoy once in a while. I was coaching visitors at the One Life event recently, and what surprised me most was how many people don’t make the time to indulge themselves in even the smallest of treats.

So, while you’re reading this, I’d like you to think about all of the things you really enjoy. Make a list – or write them down on brightly coloured pieces of card – and keep them somewhere handy, so when you next feel like a treat, you won’t be able to get out of it by telling yourself you can’t think of anything to do.

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