Friday, February 08, 2008


Learn to love yourself this Valentine’s Day

Every February, it seems like we are bombarded with candy hearts, roses and visions of cupid. From elaborate greeting cards to children’s’ homemade Valentines, we receive constant reminders that February is the month of love.

Despite this, many don’t feel worthy of love. As we prepare to show our love for others, what better time to start learning to love ourselves first. By identifying the impediments on our path to the spiritual enlightenment of self-love, we can begin to heal our past pains.

Why is it easier to open our hearts to everyone except ourselves? Children are continually bombarded with messages from parents, teachers, peers, the media, and others telling them how to look and act in order to measure up to others’ expectations. Even on Valentine’s Day, the simple act of sharing Valentines can become a stressful test of popularity. As children try to sort through these mixed messages, the relentless cycle of self-judgment begins. As feelings of self-doubt are instilled, many have trouble breaking the cycle even as adults.

Each of us embarks on a different journey. As a child, I found great joy in creation through painting and drawing. Yet my enjoyment and confidence waned because I allowed myself to take to heart any “less than stellar” comments about my finished piece, which eventually led me to participate in my own cycle of self-judgment. The more I continued to allow myself to hear the voices of others through my own inner criticism, the less my goal of validation seemed attainable. Now, as I focus my healing on generating a love for myself, I am able to find love for my artwork. The happiness I feel in creating art helps me to create new cycle of self-appreciation.

So, how do we revive a wounded heart? We restore our love for ourselves by constantly recognizing the good and forgiving the past. Each time a step is taken towards self reconciliation, it helps release the vitality which we need for creative living. Finding love for oneself, in spite of, or perhaps because of the past, will initiate healing and help to release the ties that bind our hearts.
We can continue to nourish our hearts by spending time in meditative silence, in nature, and with positive people. When we can identify something that gives us a sense of joy and allow ourselves to dedicate time for that joy, our hearts will sing.
Nurture your self-healing by attending the “Renewing the Spirit for Women” workshop on April 12, or the “Renewal of a Man’s Soul” workshop on April 25, at the Backus Outpatient Care Center. For more information about these events, call 889-8331, ext. 2483.

Paula Novak, a registered nurse and certified Healing Touch practitioner, is the Clinical Coordinator for Healing Touch and Integrative Care at William. W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advise or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Ms. Novak and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

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