Happy sad Valentines Day!
If Valentines Day reminds you how of lonely, needy, and insufficiently loved you are, read on!
As little ones we are meant to soak up unconditional love. Think about the expression on most people’s faces when they look at a baby. Children are supposed to feel like the most special beings in the world. Unfortunately, not all of us got that, which can lead to having these “inappropriate” little-person needs in these awkward, defended, competent-looking adult bodies. And trying to get little person needs met when you’re in an adult body doesn’t really work. Most people can’t see your adorable inner child and they expect you to know and speak your needs and take care of yourself. Adult relationships, even friendship and love, and contractual and conditional. Expecting others to fulfill unmet childhood needs only leads to disappointment.
So here’s the bad news: the only way you are going to get unconditional care-taking love as an adult is to give it to yourself. You can get some love and care from others, but the more you love yourself the more love you will be able to receive. You need to be the parent you didn’t get. It sucks. You get to be mad and sad and stricken with grief. Feel all those feelings. You will never get the love and attention you deserved and needed in the way you should have. Not only that, but you probably didn’t have the greatest parental role models, which means you’ve got to figure out how to be a loving parent to yourself from scratch. So, sweet dear needy human, here are some ideas to get you started:
Make an Altar to your Little Ones
Find some old photos of yourself as a child and make an altar with them on your dresser or someplace in your house. Put flowers and pinecones there, or other things they would like. Talk to them. We all have little ones inside: a five year old, eight year old, ten year old, etc. Pick a time in your life that was especially hard. Look at a picture, or close your eyes as you hold a pillow. Put all your love into the pillow or the pictures as if you were giving it to yourself at that age. Remember yourself at that age. What did you most need to hear from a sane and wise adult who really saw you? Tell yourself what you needed to hear. Be the adult that you needed back then.
Talk to Yourself Out Loud
When times are hard talk to yourself out loud. What are you saying? Something mean that your parents said to you? Would you talk this way to a child? Notice as much as you can your self talk. This can take a long time. When you have gotten a handle on this, try saying something different. What would a loving parent say? For example: “Oh sweetie, you are having a hard time. You are being so strong right now to let yourself feel all those hard feelings. It is so hard. You are doing so good.” Hold space for yourself to feel all the feelings and then, just as you would with a child, find the right time to shift away: “What do you want to do now? Shall we make a snack? Do you want to go for a walk?”
Do Your Work
Find a loving therapist who can see you and love you the way you wish your parents could. It doesn’ have to be a therapist, but therapy is great because you get to just receive. A therapist can help you grieve what you didn’t get so you can be open to receiving the love that is available to you. Therapy is also a great place to practice letting down your defenses. Chances are you probably developed some self protection strategies that helped protect your spirit growing up, but now that you’re no longer in that environment, those defenses are likely often not needed and are unhelpful. Your therapist can help you know your defenses well and become more intentional about when to use them. Vulnerability is the main ingredient of intimacy and therapy can be a safe place to practice being vulnerable.
Give Yourself Permission
Get a big piece of paper and your art supplies (crayons, pens, stickers, glitter anything you have). Write across the top: “You Have Permission to……” and then fill in below it any little thing that makes you happy. Go to town. You get the be the authority! In what ways are you stingy with yourself? What things could you do for yourself that would make you feel juicy, abundant, fulfilled? Be specific. Some examples: You Have Permission to…….make mistakes, take at least one nap a week, buy yourself flowers every week, buy all the art supplies you want, ask for help, spend up to $100 on a musical instrument, call in sick to work when you’re not sick at least once a month, etc.
Make Sacred Alone Time
Create and protect 1-3 hours of sacred alone time every week. This is time to be with yourself, to do what you really want. Go for something mindful, nourishing, or creative, something that is going to help you feel connected to yourself and refill your tank. Some ideas: go to yoga, take a bath or a nap, sunbathe, write in your journal, be crafty or create art, go for a walk or hike, play music, have a solo dance party, go thrifting or shopping for art supplies, go to a cafe or museum, etc.
Seek Your Approval
Being needy for love can make you want to bend over backwards, shapeshifting for anyone who might love you, asking, “Who or how do you want me to be?” It’s hard to have sense of self when that self constantly changes depending on the context. And how can you or anyone else love you if you don’t know who you are? Take the time to figure out your needs and what pleases you. Make yourself the person whose approval matters the most. Dress how you want to dress. Do what you think is badass and cool. Take a stand for your needs and desires and let your freak flag fly. And then tell yourself how proud you are of your courage.
Self love works. It might be awkward or fake at first, but keep at it. If you commit to this work with a hearty yes, and stick with it, you will find the loving sky and ground and your light will shine brighter. As you become more grounded and healthy you will attract others who are equally healthy and grounded who will love you well. I wish you luck on your journey. Will you be your Valentine? Please say yes!
Want to read Dr. Florie Wild’s next article? Sign up here and also receive free gifts and news about workshops.
In April I will be releasing Soul Notes! There will be a limited supply and they will be offered to subscribers first.