The month of February symbolizes many things to many people including, Black History month, the birthdays of both Presidents, Washington and Lincoln, a groundhog named Phil and his unpredictable shadow, oh and of course Valentine’s Day!
It’s the second most commercialized gift buying holiday of the year, trailing only Christmas in the number of cards sent and received. Americans spend over $20 billion a year on Valentine’s Day gifts for that special someone. And which gifts are the most popular? Flowers are number one, followed closely by chocolates and then jewelry.
So what if you have no Valentine in your life this year? What if there is no special someone currently tugging at your heartstrings? What if you find yourself alone?
Regardless of the state you may find your love life in this Valentine’s Day, view this special day differently, seeing it as a REAL opportunity to give yourself the greatest gift of all. A gift you won’t find on any beautifully designed store signs or in any carefully branded television commercials. This gift cannot be bought, not at any price. It is a gift that only you can give and only you can receive. So what is this gift…it’s you!
Here are a couple investments worth making to ensure your “gift to yourself” is a success this Valentine’s Day and every day!
The root core of learning to love yourself, begins with being able to comfortably spend time alone with you. In Bryant McGill’s book, “Voice of Reason”, he writes, “If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in poor company.” Most of us dislike being all alone, yet, that is the only place where we can find the stillness and peace required to try and find our true selves. The world is complex and fast paced. It is filled with technology, information and chaos which can lead us to feel like we are spinning out of control. Without the quietness and solitude of time spent with only ourselves, we will never be able to discover the inner peace required to identify the beauty and uniqueness that characterizes who we really are.
It’s here, through this evolutionary growth process, that we can begin to know our true inner selves, who we really are and what we really stand for, including our likes and dislikes, purposes and passions, and ultimately a better understanding of what we can share with another in a future relationship. The time we invest in ourselves, whether it’s journaling, reading, seeking out a therapist, or just being still and quietly meditating, will not only help center us, but give us a deeper sense of personal fulfillment, and make us learn to better appreciate our own unique talents and gifts.
In Bell Hook’s book, “All About Love: New Visions”, she writes: “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others, without using them as a means to escape.” What a powerful concept to incorporate into our daily lives. Through a better understanding of how to be alone, we actually offer so much more to the others around us. As we develop a better understanding of who we are, we are then able to further enrich the lives of others. Isn’t that ultimately what we want in a life partner? Someone who not only understands and accepts who we are, but more importantly, enriches our lives by virtue of our relationship together.
Learning to be comfortable in the moment is another important part of loving yourself. For most people this does not come easily, since society rarely gives us the time or awareness to look beyond our own lives, allowing us to live in the moment. “Connection with yourself only comes in moments of silence,” says McGill in his book, “Living Your Best Life”.
Too many of us are self conscious, terribly insecure and worried about how we come across to others. Will they find me attractive? Am I dressed appropriately? Did I attend the right universities and will they find me intelligent? One can virtually plug any number of endless, mindless questions in here, none of which truly matter in defining who you are in that moment. The real problem stems from being concerned about what others think, instead of owning the moment for ourselves by knowing who we are.
Easier said than done. In an era that lacks interpersonal communication, and because of the advances in technology, we have all but forgotten the beautiful art of conversation, eye contact, goosebumps, butterflies and the euphoric feeling of a real personal and emotional connection.
If we want to live an authentic life, one where we are 100% comfortable being exactly who we are, then we have to realize what others think and believe about us doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we know who we are, finding out why our lives matter and then taking those discoveries and personal beliefs and translate them into memorable legacy building actions.
Once we develop what we have to offer, we will be less willing to compromise our integrity and sense of self to chase a potential relationship that has no real chance of success.
We often hear that some people are just meant to be together, that they are better together than apart. They make great partners. What does that really mean? Is there any real truth in that statement? It boils down to expectations. An individual’s own expectations versus the combined expectations of the collective.
We all have ideas and notions about what makes the perfect mate. Sadly, most of our ideas are driven by an unattainable false narrative that we have built out of unrealistic personal expectations. This can be driven by any number of outside influences, from society and cultural mores, the media and entertainment, to our own co-workers, family, and friends.
We must manage the impact of outside influences on our expectations, or risk being constantly disappointed. When we compare our past, present and future relationships with those we see around us, we are flirting with disaster, inviting unhappiness into our lives.
If a survey asked both men and women their top three most important criteria, qualifying someone as the perfect mate, do you think the answers would all be the same? It’s a fairly safe bet they would not. This is not a bad thing, it is merely meant to reflect what we already know, men and women are complex, complicated and very different individuals.
What motivates, stimulates, excites and engages us can be all over the map, making finding commonalities and similarities increasingly difficult to identify. So how can this process be more effectively managed when it comes to identifying potentially like-minded suitors? By managing your own individual expectations relative to who you are and what makes you – you!
Sounds pretty simple, right? It’s not quite as easy as that. So before investing two hours penning a virtual online dating profile wish list of “must-have” qualities, create a very different wish list, one focused on who you would like to be. What are your best qualities? What are your strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities? Why would someone be interested in learning more about you?
This requires asking yourself a very difficult question: what do you offer in exchange for the “must-have” qualities you desire in another? This is a pretty big ask, but what happens when you commit to a better understanding of who you are, it becomes more clear what type of individual best aligns with your own personal goals, dreams and aspirations. Think about this, if you listed out all the qualities of the perfect mate and someone were to ask if you had those same qualities…what would your answer be?
Can you ask for something in someone else that you yourself are not capable of delivering? It’s simply not fair and a recipe for total relationship failure. By managing your own expectations first, you help create realistic objectives not only for yourself, but for those you may date as well, ensuring a better chance at finding the right person for the right reasons. You’ll be amazed what you can see, when your eyes are opened to the understanding of why two may indeed be better than one.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and materialism that is the modern Valentine’s Day celebration. Take a moment for yourself this year and focus on BEING YOURS!
Photo by maf04
Tama Fulton is a creative media maven, on-air radio broadcaster, feature writer, live events host, keynote speaker and executive communications strategist. She co-founded Callisto Media Consulting (www.callistomediaconsulting.com) with her childhood friend and business partner, John Hudson Messerall, to harness their mutual talents, helping raise audience awareness in two key messaging areas, live event presentation and written content creation. Tama and John are also the hosts of the recently launched podcast series titled, “True North Story,” which focuses on inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to search for their own True North Story, by offering hope and engagement with the extraordinarily unique, yet distinctively different voices of their guests. Her passion for health and wellness also knows no bounds, as a triathlete, she has completed in several half marathons, participated in numerous cycling tours and is a certified yoga instructor who believes in the power of breath. Tama’s first grade teacher once accused her of being a daydreamer and she still owns this observation, claiming it to be her single greatest compliment! Born and raised in Chicago, she is a lover of all things “Windy City,” an Arizona State Sun Devil alum and a strong believer in irony, especially as a white-knuckle flyer who married a commercial airline pilot.
John Hudson Messerall is a creative visionary, messaging specialist, branding consultant, entrepreneur and wordsmith with 20 years of experience creating unique and unparalleled stories for his clients.
As co-founder of Callisto Media Consulting, (www.callistomediaconsulting.com) along with his childhood friend and business partner, Tama Fulton, John works with thought leaders, corporate executives and creative visionaries, assisting with strategic direction, awareness initiatives and the creation of authentic messaging and branding designed to differentiate and resonate with multiple audiences and key demographic groups.
John is also a co-host of the recently launched podcast series titled, “True North Story,” which focuses on inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to search for their own True North Story, by offering hope and engagement with the extraordinarily unique, yet distinctively different voices of their guests.
John’s love for art is another passion, from acting both in film and on stage, to writing several dramatic screenplays and television pilots, including authoring his first fictional novel.
As a Chicago native, John is a lover of deep-dish style pizza, all local sports teams (except the White Sox), an alumnus of both Valpo (undergrad) and Mercer (graduate) and is a huge proponent of American classic cinema. He is willing to engage anyone with whom he can share his knowledge, while learning even more about film noir, pre-code and the silents over a great cup of coffee.