This week is Valentine’s week and the TV commercials and the media are blasting us with tips and deals on flowers, candy, romantic getaways and aphrodisiac foods. But there are many today that will be spending Valentine’s day alone, and even those that have made a deliberate decision to be on their own right now may get a little bummed out with this overdose of “love” suggestions. For those that are not excited to have to explain what you are doing on Valentine’s Day to others, I hope that this article will give you some comfort. There has been many a day throughout my years when I was that person who dreaded having to explain my single status on Valentine’s Day and then later having to hear all the wonderful stories from my friends on how “great” their Valentine’s Day was. So, on this Valentine’s Day, whether you decide to announce this to others or not, I encourage you to spend this day of love celebrating with the person to who love can only originate for you, and that is with you.
For starters, I am a very spiritual person, and having a spiritual perspective on Love can be a positive game changer, but for now I will hold my spiritual perspective until the very end of this article and focus on the practical and logical side of celebrating a day of love with your primary source of love, you.
Love is a very misunderstood and misleading emotion. Many people that “love” each other are really in love with what the other person in their lives can do for them. I’m not implying people are devious or deceptive, only that it is human nature to externalize the cause of our emotions out to others. This is true of all emotions, anger, fear, irritation, disgust and so on. We have a tendency to “blame” bad feelings on the actions of others and then we tend to “credit” others with feelings of happiness and love. When it comes to love, the reasons we give credit to others for feeling love are varied and usually multiple. We love our spouses/lovers because they provide us security, and validate our identity, sexuality, or importance. We also enjoy their companionship, camaraderie, and connection. Our spouses/lovers elevate our status in humanity by telling the world, “Look – I am lovable.” Many times our spouses fill very practical roles in our lives, like providing income, or skills that we do not have, like marrying a handy guy, or marrying a good cook.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these reasons for falling in love or being in love, except this: – If you cannot feel loved and whole without the other “person” in your life, then you are operating with a subtle and potentially heartbreaking dependency on someone else. Furthermore, if you feel that your life would be lost, empty, meaningless, or not worth living without your significant other, you are literally giving away one of your most amazing assets of being human, which is authentic and individual freedom. You become a prisoner in your own love choices. And don’t forget, if you are in a relationship because of what someone is giving to you for your validation and approval, so likely is your significant other.
Relationships are wonderful, fulfilling and can be extremely personally empowering. Relationships should be a safe haven for examining our personal limitations and growing within an environment of love and support. Having someone to grow with can be exceptionally gratifying. However, if part of the relationship is not examining personal and collective habits and behaviors to identify areas for growth, including those that lean towards a co-dependency on the other partner, then the relationship may be in store for some serious challenges.
When you think about love deeply, you realize that in order to have a healthy, fulfilling, and thrilling relationship; you must have deep love for both people in the relationship. Not an ego-maniacal narcissistic love, but a genuine love, admiration, and respect for each party. This is not the way most relationships start out unfortunately. In fact, the primary reason we look for love is because we feel we are lacking in some way and we want to other person to fill that need within us.
So, what does all this have to do with spending Valentine’s Day alone? Only to provide a background for why a day designated for “love” can be such an opportunity to honor the person you can always count on being there for you with love, which is yours truly. Isn’t it time to nurture and develop a strong relationship with the one side of any relationship that you have control over, yourself? Tune out the noise of the media and commercials and spend this week in deep contemplation and meditation about loving yourself. Deepen your meaning of love to include respecting yourself enough to know that you have things you need to do better, that you have made mistakes, and that in order to complete yourself, you have to come to terms with all of that. Work on forgiveness towards yourself and practice compassion.
Before I give you a few bullet points on developing and strengthening a love for self, let me just close this part of the article with a little spiritual insight as well. At a spiritual level, you are love. The idea of you, the essence of who you really are, your soul, IS love. We may not sense this due to things like commercials, media, tough times in the past, or general negative outlooks on life – but it is true and spending a little time nurturing this love, in a spiritual sense, can be life altering. As you probably already have heard, Love (notice how this is capitalized to represent Divine Love), is unconditional. This means that despite your past choices, you are still an idea made of love. This will never change about you; the only thing that you have a choice about is whether you accept this or now. Love yourself at a deeper spiritual level and celebrate your connection to ALL, not just to a special someone that may come along later. This week and in weeks to come, celebrate Love.
- Do not sit at home sucking it up. Plan a fun evening for yourself doing something that only YOU would love. This might mean a night of reading, going to a movie only you could appreciate, indulging in a special meal or desert, taking a long walk or getting a massage. Stay away from emotion agitators, like alcohol, drugs, excessive eating, sad music and movies. Honor yourself with a special celebration.
- Start a habit of reciting (out loud or in your head) affirmations of self-love. You have probably been doing a lot of self-depreciating self-speak for quite some time. Initially, your self-love affirmations may seem awkward, but keep at them. Talk to yourself in the mirror. Affirmations that are meaningful to you – work. But to make them meaningful, you have to be persistent in the practice. Pick out two or three good ones and keep up the good chatter.
- Develop two or three new habits that serve you and honor your higher self. Commit to learn a new skill, learn a new topic of interest, make a plan of action for a creative project, consider a weekly outing to a place or activity you love (bookstore, antique store, shooting range, fishing).
- Practice daily forgiveness and compassion to yourself. Please do not misunderstand these with unaccountability and pity. Study these concepts and learn to truly let go of the past and learn from your mistakes. Compassion is accepting that you did your best at any moment and accepting yourself completely as you are.
- Do something nice for someone or do an act of service. Nothing promotes a sense of love all around like expressing love unconditionally. Volunteer at a dog shelter or any charity of your choice, buy the person behind you at your coffee shop their coffee, visit your parents or an aging relative showing up with some hand-picked wildflowers, give all your office mates a Valentine Thank You for being You note, buy your pet a new toy or a special treat. Don’t ever be afraid of giving away love. The more you give and the more you don’t expect any return, the more you get….. It’s a hard one but boy, once you can do it, truly unconditionally, it is so freeing!!!
- Think about yourself as more than a brain attached to a body with a few personality traits attached. You are soooo much more than this. You are a divine being. Begin to see yourself as a divine entity first, that has a body and a mind. Act from your higher being.
Remember YOU are a source of love. We cannot depend on anyone else to love us, especially when we cannot love ourselves first. I know this is an overused cliché “to love yourself first”, but in this case there is some universal wisdom in this saying. Be the person you know you can be, always.
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