Learn to Love Yourself

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. If you browse through store aisles, you’ll find a multitude of greeting cards aimed at husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, bosses, children, and more. It seems to me that one person is missing from that list, though: yourself!

Yes, I know. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about letting the important people in your life know how much they mean to you. I’m not trying to end that tradition by any means. What I am hoping to point out is that most Americans don’t put themselves in that category. And if you have read any of my book or watched my videos or speeches, you know that the number one thing I believe today about happiness is this: Until a person learns to truly value and love themselves simply for who they are and what they do, they can never really be happy long-term. That’s why it concerns me that even on a holiday that’s so devoted to love most of us don’t show much of it to ourselves.

Yes, it’s a big problem when you don’t love yourself. Until my breakdown, because I did not love myself, I thought that my self-worth came solely from my achievements. I depended on “atta boys,” pats on the back, and awards to make me feel valuable and worthwhile. And that led to a life that was way, way out of balance and to numerous problems:

• I became a workaholic. My job was the one place where I could guarantee that I could be number one…if, of course, I was willing to work harder than anyone else. Thus, at Foreign Autopart in the ’90s, I was always the first one at the office and the last one to leave, continually reaching for the next record to break so I could be okay with myself (and frankly, sleep at night!).Quite simply, I was not much of a dad when Josh was young. I regret that now.

• I didn’t treat myself well. As you may have already guessed, I pushed myself too hard and rarely did “nice” things for myself—even something as simple as taking a nap when I was exhausted. These days, mainly on the weekends, boy do I cherish my naps!!!

• Not all of my relationships were genuine. Because I didn’t value myself, I was often insecure about how others felt about me—even if I didn’t show it. When I was younger, I tended to behave the way I thought people wanted me to instead of doing what I wanted to do or felt was right.

• I was always trying to be everyone else’s favorite person by doing everything for everyone. In this way, I hoped that others would love and appreciate me more. At times, this compulsion led to me being taken advantage of and abused, and later I felt resentful and totally burnt out.

I know I’m not the only one, either. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I think we should all consider how much we do (or don’t!) value our own selves. If you look to others for love and approval instead of giving it to yourself, as I once did, please try to make this change now. The fact is, you can never have totally authentic and meaningful relationships with other people or achieve your full potential until you truly learn to love the wonderful human being you are.

First, acknowledge that of course you’re going to mess up from time to time because you’re human. Then, start making a mental list of your many talents, successes, strengths, and blessings. (Ask your loved ones for help if you need to!) Remember, God made you to be a one-of-a-kind, and He gave you amazing qualities that no one else possesses.

Trust me, once you begin to value and love yourself more, your whole life will change for the better. You’ll be happier (and healthier!), you’ll feel more confident, and your relationships will improve. You may even notice more positive opportunities coming into your life as others begin to respond to you differently.

So, even if you can’t find a Valentine’s Day card addressed to “you” as you do your shopping, don’t forget to show yourself love on February 14th—and every day thereafter! You deserve it! And your kids do too, because—I promise you this—your children will learn to love themselves for who they are and what they do only if you learn how to do this first.