By: Amy Maricle
When I was almost 20, I dated a jerk. I didn’t realize it at the time, and I don’t think he meant to be, but he was a jerk. He didn’t know how to listen, wouldn’t compromise, and was downright disrespectful to me at times. As my birthday approached, I felt increasingly sad and disappointed, knowing he wouldn’t make the effort to make me feel special on my special day.
Feeling low, I turned to a trusted teacher. He taught my Coping Psychology class, and was a mentor, guidance counselor, and guru wrapped into one. After listening carefully, he asked if I would be willing to do a visualization. He asked me to envision a beautiful day on the beach. He said that as I felt the sand between my toes, the sun on my face, and the breeze blowing across my skin, I would notice a young woman walking my way. As she came closer, I would see that she was about my age, with similar hair, and similar build. Finally, he said, she approached me with arms outstretched. It was then that I saw myself. She drew me in and whispered in my ear, “I love you,” and I was overcome with emotion.
This powerful image made his point immediately clear: I have to take care of myself and care for myself.
He helped me realize that if I don’t meet my own needs, no one else can fill me up, no matter how hard they try.
Without self-care and self-love, others’ affections slip through our fingers like water through a sieve. Caring for myself creates a container for love and affection. Without it, other peoples’ affections feel insufficient or false. Even the most attentive, caring boyfriend could not fill that void. (Though I did leave the boyfriend! Part of loving and valuing myself more was choosing people who loved, cherished, and were kind to me.)
Through the years, I have found that my birthday is an excellent time to reinforce this lesson. Of course I would feel let down if no one else recognized my birthday, but doing things for myself helps me realize that if others let me down, it doesn’t define my worth.
Giving Myself a Gift
I do what I hope others might do – get myself a gift, plan a party, or take a trip. These are gestures of my appreciation for myself. It’s not conceit or selfishness, because I do the same for the people I love. I’m making a statement that I deserve the best that I have to give too. And because I have chosen wonderful people to be in my life, I receive many gestures of love and caring on my birthday; these are the icing on my cake.
What gift can you give yourself on your birthday this year? How do you make yourself happy? Tell us about it in the comments.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.
Image credit: kubais / 123RF Stock Photo