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Happy Valentine's Day (to you & me)

Navigating a healthier, more accepting, loving and kind self-regard

· Self Care,Self Acceptance,Honesty,Self Regard,Kindness

Today is Valentine’s Day and tradition provides us with permission to express our feelings of love, and to someone who may not be aware of how we really feel about them.

So, here’s the thing: what if the person unaware of how you feel about them is YOU?

Seriously, who's always put up with the most crap from you? Been there everytime you fell flat on your face? Or scored a goal? Never vanished just because you were a dick-head? Who's going to be there right to the very end? Through thick and thin?

Most of us are so heavily invested in other people pleasing, we probably havent noticed. Or have but havent known what to do about it.

Navigating Towards Some Self-Regard

Self-regard simply means to consider yourself. You consider others, right? Yet it feels weirdly uncomfortable to extend this to yourself.

Look it up in an English dictionary. The synonyms for self-regard are: conceited, self-centered, selfish... ways of reframing this topic that make me feel a bit vulnerable even writing about it.

It wont stop me. I'm a delightfully loving fruitcake on a mission. And I'd love it if you come with me.

I Love You

Imagine looking in the mirror and saying I Love you.

Cringe, right?

I wouldnt do that. I have begun a self-care journey, but I'm a repressed Englishman not George Benson.


I Love You is the wrong question to ask yourself, in my experience.

I Love You isnt a question, I hear the more pedantic exclaim. Well, what happens when we say I Love You to someone? Hopefully, they will say I Love You too, right? Let's face it, we often use I Love You as a question to reassure ourselves that we are wanted. That’s no bad thing.

Are You Feeling Loved?

Imagine the mirror again and asking yourself Are You Feeling Loved?

What comes to mind?

Errr... sometimes? A bit? Maybe on a good day, like a Friday?

Considering the question, it's probably easier to think of someone who hurt you, or didn’t quite love you enough and let you down… and off we go, finding it easier to bring to mind all our precious hurt, feeling unloved, or unlovableness, with the assumption it’s somebody else’s job to love us, and they just can't get it right.

As Ru Paul says: if you cant love yourself how the hell you supposed to love somebody else?

Have you got any idea the effort I’m making hiding my unlovable bits!?

Yes I do. My insecure, anxious, awkward, angry, jealous, I want the biggest slice of cake greedy parts… I spend a lot of time hiding them. From myself and others. Masking. Editing them out, only to play back the cuttings when I try going to sleep at night. Cringing and torturing myself, and then anxiously grinding my teeth flat while I believe I'm asleep and resting. Then back at it as soon as I wake up.

I've spent my life on a battle footing. Grazing on grrr. All the time wondering why I felt so exhausted.

Then Lloyd Died.

If you read my last blog What The World Needs Now you'll be aware that I'd been supporting a very close friend who'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Lloyd died early in the morning on Friday 19th May 2023.

I asked Lloyd if he wanted me to move in with him when he was given a week to live. He said yes. And if you read the blog, YES was a personal triumph because it was the first time he departed from: If you've got nothing better to do. Our 18 months together had changed us both.

I drove home that Friday and I'd like to say I was awash with tears, but the truth is I was so emotionally constipated it was more like I was on traumatised autopilot.

When I got in, I wrote the death notice for our friends on Facebook and then polished off the best part of a bottle of gin.

I gained consciousness face down on the carpet sometime that Friday evening. I had blood matted in my hair and a cut on the top of my head. I dont remember how it or I got there.

Living on Autopilot

That was what self-care was to me at that time. I had learned to self-medicate. And I used whatever was to hand to switch my mind off. Food, booze, drugs, sex... I'm not complaining.

And I'd done pretty well on it, to be fair. I had a successful corporate career for 10 years, and then become an entrepreneur, running my own business for 25 years, including side hustles.

But the cost of the choices I'd been making were becoming increasingly apparent. I was kinda numb. I could talk an emotion but I'm not sure I could really experience one.

And I'd smoked for 46 years. I was massively overweight. I had high choleserol and was on statins. I was on the verge of medication for high blood pressure.

It felt ironic that Lloyd had died. He'd taken good care of himself. I hadn't.

And I'd love to say I changed that face-down-in-the-carpet day. I didnt. But something in me changed. I think I knew I was so, so frikkin lucky to still be alive. And the idea that I had the opportunity to wake up tomorrow and spend another day on this planet felt like the most precious gift I'd been staring at for 60 years and not noticing.

Learning to Fly

9 months on and I'm a non smoker. I've lost 3 stone. My blood pressure has normalised, as has my cholesterol and I'm off statins. In fact I no longer take any drugs. And I still have the bottle of gin on my shelf that I drank that Friday, with the dregs still in it.

And lots of people keep telling me how well I look, and how on top of things I seem. and I am. My mate Sandra said I bet you wished you'd done this years ago. I said Sandra, I wouldnt have that thought now, I'm stopping with beating myself up.

I feel like my mind is my own again. I get more sleep. I have more brain to work with. And I'm planning some big things. I feel more confident and bold.

It's taken me 60 years to feel like I'm actually living life, rather than just surviving another day. And I'm intrigued to see where it takes me, one better decision at a time.

Peace on Earth and Peace of Mind

My son asked me what I hoped for at New Year. We chatted about it for a while and both agreed on two things: Peace on Earth and Peace of Mind.

Which comes first, do you think?

Maybe we will find more peace of mind when there is peace on Earth? I think this could be true.

But, how likely are we to find peace on Earth when the minds of the people leading us seem so embattled, spouting and driving shameless division?

My own experience shows me that changes start on the inside, then manifest on the outside. And if I can start to find peace of mind, anyone can. It's teachable and learnable.

Top 10 Hacks

Last year, when I wrote What The World Needs Now I knew the world was heading down the toilet and needed more love. But I didn't know what that really meant. Not in any practical sense. How do you do that? Where do you start?

I'd have never thought moving towards a better understanding of it might start with me. But it has, and now my plan is to start bringing this into my work with leaders and entrepreneurs.

I will be sharing the very deliberate but simple things I have been doing that work for me in the next blog. Some of the hacks are original, some are like a greatest hits I've borrowed, but I've applied them all and know they work, for me at least.

And none of them are yoga, meditation, or drinking more camomile tea. But, to be honest, by the time I write it they may well be on the list.

On this Valentine's Day do take the time to tell your people you love them. If you feel brave ask them if they are feeling loved. And when you find the space ask yourself the same question. And maybe it's the right time to stop looking to someone else to provide a solution or answer it for you.