Sometimes society causes people to buy into the hype and commercialism of how to be good to your spouse, partner, or significant other. Valentine's Day is a huge example. Suggested gifts like roses appear on every street corner. Advertising promoting lingerie and jewelry appear everywhere you look. Boxed chocolates festoon the drugstore aisles. For separated and divorced individuals, commercialism and advertising often bring up some old wounds.

If you are single, there's nothing like a culture apparently gaga over coupledom to make you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb. Even if you're happy in a new relationship, the romance of a special holiday can still bring up those ghosts of your former partner, along with the hopes and dreams you once shared together. For many folks post-divorce, holidays aren't necessarily a bed of roses. It can be an occasion when you're looking for love and appreciation from others, and there's no guarantee you'll get it. Is there an Ultimate Person out there who will always love you?

I believe there is a very special person who is always available to be your gift, your special person, 365 days of the year and not just when Hallmark says so. Can you guess who that is? Yup! It's you!

What if this year we made the commitment to be our own gift? Being your own gift means making the decision to love, accept and acknowledge yourself on a daily basis. If you're not willing to fully love and respect yourself, who will? Take on some of my favorite strategies and see what can open up in your life when you make the commitment to be your own gift.

Here are some of these strategies:

1. Start each morning by asking yourself, "What would I need to do today to be loving and accepting of myself?" Just listen for the answer. Make sure it's something specific and measurable, so when you go to sleep at night you can know that you've done it.

2. Write out on pieces of papers a variety of treats or activities you could do in a short period of time that you'd like to give yourself and put them in a Gift jar. Once a week (or once a day), pick something from the jar and just do it. If you've had a particularly hard day, you could use this to boost your mood. The activities could include:

*personal care: get a pedicure, do a deep-moisturizing masque.

*rejuvenating activities: go on a special walk, take a yoga class, or get together with a friend.

*making requests: order take-out or hire a babysitter to give you some free time.

*practical things: take 5 minutes to clean up the TV cabinet or make a phone call you've been avoiding (yes, these things makes you feel good!).

3. Create a mantra you can use when your inner negative dialogue is acting up. You could try "Thanks for sharing!" or "I can love myself even when I’m afraid or when I make a mistake!" Come up with one that works best for you.

4. Celebrate all of your successes, no matter how large or small! As the saying goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Let's not minimize that first step. How about hooting and hollering about how great it is that you can be your own gift. Daily written self-acknowledgments (of at least 5-10 things) are some of the best gift wishes you'll ever receive.

Author's Bio: 

Carolyn B. Ellis is the Founder of Thrive After Divorce, Inc. A Harvard University graduate, Carolyn is a Certified Master Integrative Coach™, Teleclass Leader and the first Canadian to be certified as a Spiritual Divorce Coach. She has also served as a Staff Coach at the Institute for Integrative Coaching at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, CA, and has been trained personally by its founder, NY Times best-selling author Debbie Ford. Her book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce will be published in 2007. She is a member of Collaborative Practice Toronto. Her three amazing school age children and bouncy labradoodle dog are her daily sources of inspiration and joy.

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