I don’t think I know anyone who actually enjoys Valentine’s Day. It seems that most of us experience either an unbearable pressure to live up to unrealistic romantic expectations, or the aching loneliness that comes with believing you’re the only one not celebrating with someone special this year.
I think it’s easy for many of us to get caught up in the fantasy that Valentine’s Day represents: the notion of the perfect partner and the perfect romance. Many of us believe that all we need is the right relationship and that will solve all of our problems and we’ll find that lasting happiness.
Our rational minds know that isn’t true. Our rational minds know that happiness is an inside job. Yet, many of us still continue to look outside of ourselves for the solution. Whether it’s the romantic relationship, more money, better clothes, less weight, new job, most of us can identify that one thing that we think we need to be happy.
This Valentine’s Day, I propose that we turn inward to find that source of happiness, and I propose that we do it by offering ourselves love, which is what this day is supposed to be about!
Many of us have spent far too much time feeling badly about who we are or what we have done or not done. Maybe we’ve been criticized harshly by others, or maybe we simply lost perspective, buying too far into the media’s messages that we need these outside sources to complete us.
Today, we have an opportunity to change that kind of self-destructive thinking and allow ourselves to feel good about who we are, exactly as we are. We can offer ourselves unconditional love.
But HOW do we do that?
A few years back I read Tracy McMillan memoir, “I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway,” where she describes her journey to self-love and her moment of awakening when she realized that she needed to do Kung-Fu with her mind if she was ever going to find some peace.
In order to create a loving relationship with ourselves we must offer ourselves love. We have to begin to recognize all of the negative self-talk that we do and we have to make an extra effort to counteract it with a positive thought.
Easier said than done, right? I know I, myself, spent many years skeptical of affirmations and mantras. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s not that the affirmations don’t work, I just wasn’t willing to use them as diligently as they need to be used.
What if, putting skepticism aside, starting this Valentine’s Day, every time you had a negative thought, you challenged that thought by saying to yourself, “I love you, (insert your name here).” Every time you start to feel empty because you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, you tell yourself “I love you, _______.” Every time you start to think about how your partner isn’t living up to the ideal romantic partner, you tell yourself “I love you,_____.” Every time you think you need to lose a few pounds, or make more money, or beat yourself up for that thing you did however long ago, you tell yourself “I love you, _______.”
I know what the skeptic might be thinking right now…… what if you don’t actually believe that?
Sadly, I don’t think many of us actually do. I know I certainly didn’t when I started this practice. But I knew that I wanted to believe it, and more importantly I knew that I NEEDED to hear it. Again, this comes back to that ever important concept of willingness. How willing are we to change? How willing are we to invite love into our lives? Are we willing to go to any lengths to get it, even if it means saying “I love you” to ourselves hundreds of times a day, for days on end, until we start to believe it?
It takes time for old doubts to fade and wounds to heal. Self-confidence and love comes slowly, but it grows with practice. With practice we learn to treat ourselves with gentleness and compassion. We all have many beautiful qualities and we owe it to ourselves to let them shine.