If ever there was a day designed to potentially dig into our insecurities as women, it is Valentine’s Day. Here is the day that we are told, reassured, that we are worthy, by having another’s love of us acknowledged. Some of use will even hold our breath until that love is demonstrated by a token acknowledgment, a card, flowers, chocolates, a kiss, a special gift. As a result this can be a day fraught with anxiety. Does he love me, or does she not? Will he remember, or will she not? Am I important to him, or am I not? And if that doesn’t happen, or doesn’t occur as we envisioned it to happen, some of us will be devastated. Talk about our self-worth being driven by external forces.
Our society does tend to condition us to see ourselves in this way. We are raised on stories of princesses in distress that need to be rescued by a prince charming, reinforcing that to be strong is not to be feminine, reinforcing our need to be dependent, and vulnerable from our earliest memories of what it means to be desirable. Our need for others to make us whole is a theme that echoes in TV shows, stories, songs, and movies, and is depicted in ads not just in our society but also in Europe, and in most of the rest of the world.
When we internalize these messages, I call this our girly thoughts. These are our beliefs, not just our feelings, that we need to be dependent to be desirable, and if we are not desirable, if we do not meet the societal standard for beauty—if we are not tall enough, thin enough, young enough, if are legs are too short, our butt too big, or our breasts too small, if we are too old, the wrong race, bi, gay, or trans, we are somehow to blame for all of the crap that comes our way as women. Our girly thoughts are deep-seeded. But by not challenging them, we give our power over to others. In this way we allow ourselves to be held hostage by how others see us, discounting how we can see ourselves.
Yes, this is beginning to change, but at somewhat glacial speed. But that doesn’t stop many of you today from feeling anxious…. And wondering if you are indeed loveable.
What to do? We can choose to define ourselves, and enjoy the discoveries that this process will bring us. (More about this process in my book: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, about to be released on 3.5.13).
And you can begin to focus on loving yourself, today. Does that mean that you shouldn’t be loved by another? No! Enjoy that love as well. But know that the love of another does not define the totality of your lovability. It can contribute to it, but the love of your intimate partner is not all the love that is available to you. You can love you! You can let the love of your friends and your family in, despite their all too obvious flaws. And you can allow in the love of the universe…
I wanted to share a Valentine’s Day Thought on a calendar a friend gave me:
Some angels choose cleverly disguised lives in time and space, just to help folks get past judging by appearances. NO, they’re not much to look at, listen to, or dance with, and most would never guess they’re angels — but that’s the point. Every soul is beautiful.
A way out of our girly thoughts is to begin to enjoy the angels in your life today…. and know you are loved, by yourself, by the angels in your life, and also by the universe….
…wishing you a lovely day, hope you decide to MAKE it a Good One by noticing your loveliness, and the angels that surround you…..Hoping you find love everyday, all around you, and within you….. Patricia
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.