(Photo credit to Melissa Askew on Unsplash)
Love is in the air
When Valentine’s Day comes around, the talk is all about love and romance. Ahh, how sweet! And just look at all those happy couples…
The focus is on Valentine's cards, romantic meals a deux and gifts for your special someone; all very exciting for couples, but the hype can feel very excluding for those on their own.
Different types of love
I am not writing a blog on psychology, much as I’m interested, but I do feel that we can all be included in Valentine's Day, no matter what our relationship status. Not all love is romantic: that is only one of the types recognised by the ancient Greeks.
The others are: charity & unconditional love, the love between parents & children, friendship & affectionate regard, hosptiality, and self-love. Lovely as Valentine’s Day is for those who enjoy it, its focus on romance is very one-sided and leaves out more than it includes.
My focus today is on self-love. I shall also look at kindness, as I think that it is a form of love which often goes unrecognised. Kindness to ourselves is something we can all give ourselves - at any time of year.
Love for ourselves
We all have days when we don't love ourselves. We might have low self-esteem and start to put ourselves, and maybe others, down. It is all too easy to become negative and critical – especially self-critical. In some cases this can even lead to depression or anxiety.
Hiding away and making ourselves invisible
Many people blend into the crowd because they don’t feel confident and so don’t want to stand out at all. They will choose dull, drab or dark colours so that they are not seen. Hiding away might feel safe but it is not ultimately going to improve our self-confidence because we have made ourselves look invisible.
Let's return to that previous point: kindness. Let's be kind to ourselves, as that is a form of love, indeed it is self-love. It is not harsh or critical; but instead is accepting. Wearing clothes that make us disappear into the crowd is not self-accepting, but instead can be denying our individuality. We can decide to look at ourselves in the mirror and NOT focus on lines, wrinkles, bulges or any other perceived defects; instead we can look focus on our BEST bits!
Why write about self-love instead of fashionable clothes?
Now you may think that this is an odd blog for a colour and style consultant to be writing. Surely, Linda, you should focus on the style of clothes, the makeup, the colours…. I could go on. And certainly, the tools which I use are these external ones. But the truth of the matter is that what I do affects the inside of a person, so that they see themselves with truer eyes; with the mask of negativity and criticism stripped away. They see their own inner beauty shine out once their clothing reflects their inner authenticity.
I didn’t change careers and leave behind librarianship in my 50s in order to follow fashion. I did it because I am passionately interested in seeing people, and especially women, increase their self-confidence. I did it because I saw – and now see on a weekly basis – how these exterior tools improve someone’s self-esteem and lift their spirits, and how they enable someone to love themselves and all that they are…. Sometimes for the first time.
My personal experience
I now understand that I need to wear clothes with lovely rich, autumnal, earthy tones, and to make sure that they are neat and fitted. But I also need a bit of sparkle and to dress up more than many other people do.
For decades I wore pastel colours and ‘dressed down’ because I felt that my look was inappropriate to my workplace, or because I wanted to conform to other people’s dress codes. No wonder I didn’t feel like myself - because I wasn’t being myself, my true self. Now that I am, I am happier, more relaxed and more confident. I am also more visible and get more compliments than I ever got when I was younger and wrinkle-free!
I also love all the clothes in my wardrobe. My problem nowadays is not standing in front of the wardrobe saying, “I’ve got nothing to wear!”; but instead it is standing there looking at a gorgeous array, any of which I’d love to wear, and thinking, “What shall I wear? I love it all and don’t want to have to choose!”
Back to Valentine’s Day
This Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether my husband and I do anything special together, I shall think about wearing something that I love. I may even wear red! But the item I choose, I shall choose first and foremost because it makes me feel good, and special. I shall look at myself in the mirror and love myself back – no more self-criticism in this house.
Why not do the same for yourself? Will you choose to love and invest in yourself this Valentine’s Day?
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