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Love, Connection, and Self-Worth

Today is Valentine’s Day again. I’ve always equated Valentine’s Day’s charms to the pressure of that agonizing and possibly amazing middle school dance experience many of us have in our early teen years. You know, the one where you build hope for weeks that you might get a shot at dancing with or at least talking to that person you secretly have a huge crush on? And then the night comes and it’s either the most awesome night ever, or you just want to go home and cry, and you might even remember that putting that much pressure on one event is just not realistic. Said every 1980’s teen movie. Even after 24 fortunate years of happy marriage and a broader, more whole perspective on love and friendships, I still feel that "charm" of Valentine’s Day each year. In case anyone else feels that too, I’m naming that and instead of going along with it, I’d like to share my thoughts with you all on connection and feeling seen and valued by ourselves. There’s a lot of talk about self-care these days, but let’s go beyond the peaceful bubble baths and lavender candles for a moment and delve a bit into self-care through self worth.

Self worth is quite likely the most important practice and value we each have when it comes to connecting meaningfully with others and even more importantly to ourselves. At Social Tinkering, we talk a lot about the critical importance of having others in your life that you feel connected to. This can be just 1 or 2 good solid friends in your life - be that your sibling, parent, grandparent, a friend, or colleague. We also note how simple interactions with a stranger at the grocery store checkout line can increase your happiness. These social connections help us, our families, and our communities to thrive. 

What we haven’t spoken a lot about yet is internal connection, that meaningful connection to self, or simply put - self worth. Therapists call this your “core self” or “inner child.” Internal connection happens when we give ourselves the time and space to listen to what our heart and gut are really telling us. We can make ourselves feel seen and valued when we make space in the busyness of life to sort through how we’re really feeling and slow down to get to know ourselves and process things. Internal connection is about being a best friend to yourself. This best friendship is one where negative self-talk is not cool; where we don’t ignore ourselves and our emotions; where we give ourselves space and time and comfort when we want to walk into the woods and scream or curl up in a ball and cry. It means allowing ourselves to celebrate and be happy when good things happen, to be proud of ourselves. Being connected to our core includes being truly open to other people’s feedback and learning from, acknowledging, and taking action on our mistakes. And doing this while simultaneously recognizing when others opinions and judgements are just that, and can be uninformed or coming from their own lack of connection. Being our own best friend means we have to help ourselves create and fortify healthy boundaries that reiterate our self worth. 

I know, reading this post about being your own best friend could sound cheesy if you’re not used to leaning a bit into vulnerability. I encourage you, even challenge you, to pause and think about this today on Valentine’s Day. I encourage you to show yourself some love by gifting yourself time to positively see and value yourself and your own experiences. At its heart and soul, connection is learning, valuing, trusting, and growing. Inner connection and self worth rises and enables us to thrive when we intentionally practice being our own best friend.

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