Yes, superficially we all understand that Valentine’s Day is merely another way for big businesses to capitalize on our insatiable need to fit in with the masses; to spend money in ‘celebration’ of love, or friendship, or whatever else. In reality, however, many of us will bristle as we pass the stuffed bears and chocolate hearts that litter grocery store aisles leading up to the 14th of February. We’ll roll our eyes at red roses and scoff at candlelit dinners, but deep down, we may be feelings a little bit empty and alone. Resentful, even.
In all honesty, I was scrambling to find Valentine’s plans not more than a week ago. After being in a relationship for several years, the idea of spending the night alone sounded nothing short of dismal. “Great,” I thought to myself. “Another night of Netflix with the roommates. How romantic. Way to go, loser… can’t even land yourself a date.” After several hours of stewing, I took a step back and looked at the reasoning behind my disappointment. Why was this night different than any other? What made this ‘holiday’ so special… why did it give me an excuse to beat myself up and put myself down? In short – it didn’t. I had begun to distance myself from my personal practice of self-love, which had landed me in a place of resentment and dissatisfaction.
The Importance of Self-Love
The beautiful thing about self-love is that – just like any other practice – you have the potential to vastly improve it at any time. Think of yoga, for example. If you suddenly stop going to classes, you’ll eventually lose the ability to touch your toes. Maybe one day you’ll try to touch your toes and realize that you’ve become unable, and so you promise that you’ll start going to at least 4 classes per week. In a short matter of weeks, your flexibility will be right back where it used to be. All it takes is a little dedication and self-discipline (alongside a necessary respect for your own body, mind, and general well-being). Self-love is similar – if you fall out of practice, you can easily pick it back up at any time. The first step, of course, is becoming aware. If you’re feeling resentful about being “alone” on Valentine’s Day, for instance, take an honest and searching look at why. Why? Why do I care? Is it because I need someone else to make me feel whole? Is it because I haven’t been adequately validating myself; showing myself the love I deserve? In my case, the answer was yes. I hadn’t been nurturing my individuality or doing enough for myself (as far as self-care goes). I had been trading spiritual exploration for longer hours at work; trading much needed sleep for game nights and Netflix. (Socializing is healthy and necessary, but it’s all about finding balance – not neglecting one necessity in lieu of the other.)
Filling a Void (With the Right Stuff)
Once I became aware that I was subconsciously attempting to fill a void, it became easier to figure out what steps to take next. Should I download Tinder and fill the void with swipes and small talk? Probably not. Should I sit down with a close friend or mentor and talk about how I was feeling? A step in the right direction, no doubt. A lot of times, self-love looks like reaching out to trusted loved ones for advice and guidance – or even just a willing ear. Self-love looks different depending on who you are and what you need. Some need more peace and quiet, some need more time spent outdoors. Generally speaking, self-love looks like allowing yourself the things that you need to be happy, fulfilled, and at peace with yourself and the world around you. This Valentine’s Day, rather than beat yourself up for being inadequate or unlovable or any of those other self-deprecating lies you tell yourself, try reminding yourself how incredible, loved, and deserving you are. Get right with yourself and everything else will slowly begin to align. That isn’t theory – that’s fact.
Happy Self-Love Day, one and all! It all starts with you.