Oh Valentine’s Day. What may have once looked a lot like a genuine celebration of love has derailed and become a bastardized, fragmented representation of I’m not sure exactly what. No matter your age, if you are a single woman, Valentine’s Day holds the unsettling potential to evoke a range of emotions, be it sadness over losing a loved one to death or through heartbreak, residual longing over an unsettled past, resentment toward yourself for failed relationships, or general feelings of isolation and loneliness.
With the amount of consumerism, and glorified affection surrounding a single designated calendar day, no matter how strong of an exterior you may present to the outside world, on the inside, these feelings have a tendency to bubble up. Sure, it might be easy to laugh them off, wear black, drink enough glasses of wine with your closest girlfriends to mask them, or simply push them off into the distance, but oftentimes, these feelings are still there.
While at age 26, I can’t say I’ve experienced firsthand the level of anguish and heartbreak that many who have come before me have, even those as near and dear to me as my own family, I can say, for me, Valentine’s Day remains a reminder of the love, loss, and heartbreak that I have faced in my own life. It’s a reminder that these matters of the heart are part of my story, just like they are part of others’ stories, around the world.
Valentine’s Day is a reminder for me, that yes, although heartbreak has brought me all the way down to floor and haunted me for what felt like a never-ending season, it’s now turned into a chapter I choose to carry, rather than a burden I feel forced to bear. And all on account of one thing—the return of self love into my life.
This return has allowed me to transition from a state of resentment and self-loathing, toward slowly tearing down the fortress I built around my heart, and inviting the love I once had for myself back into my life. Truly understanding what this love entails, and that like any other love, it’s not simply some whimsical feeling, but a deeply-rooted choice, has allowed me to not only welcome self love back in, but experience it on entirely new, heightened levels.
We all accept the love we think we deserve. Meaning, if we are to open our hearts to give and accept love from others, first and foremost, we must convince ourselves we are worthy and deserving of accepting this same love from ourselves. And so, perhaps, beyond Valentine’s Day stirring up feelings surrounding the love, loss and heartbreak we have or haven’t experienced, it’s a reminder that at the heart of loving someone else, is loving yourself first. It’s a reminder that this is the most important love to never lose sight of. It’s a love worth holding onto with a death grip at all costs. It’s a love you should never let anyone try and rip from your hands.
With that, what if each one of us used this Valentine’s Day to celebrate choosing to love ourselves, regardless of our pasts, our mistakes or unexpected heartbreak?
Before I go any further, it must be said that I’m not merely proposing this to the single women out there. It’s not limited to gender, meaning, I’m looking at you too, men. Nor is it limited to relationship status. This means married or otherwise committed women, this is equally dedicated to, and written for you. Self love is just as imperative as a cornerstone for each of you in your journey. The love you have for yourself, affects the love you are able to give and receive from someone else, after all.
For those who find themselves feeling trapped in negative, or otherwise unhealthy, or uncertain situations this Valentine’s Day, may this message act as a reminder that you are worthy. You are lovable. You have the choice, and the power, to give yourself the love you deserve.
To those who have been eagerly anticipating the holiday, this is by no means a suggestion to turn down a Valentine’s dinner date invitation, shun acknowledgement of the day entirely, nor does it command you send that box of chocolates back. In fact, chocolate and loving yourself just so happen to go hand and hand, or so I’ve found.
Ultimately, regardless of what you have or haven’t been through, or your sentiments on the holiday, may this piece simply act as an invitation to take time to refocus, and reflect on the importance of self love in your life, in whatever individual way means the most to you, and perhaps even consider incorporating the following simple practices into your Valentine’s Day, and all the days that follow.
Take Meditative Moments
Whether you have plans with your family or significant other, or will be spending the entire day on your own, find a moment of solitude to take solace. During this time dedicated to you, and only you, give your mind the chance to reflect on the progressions that have taken shape in your life that have brought you to the exact point you are today. This isn’t a time to pick yourself apart, or exploit what you consider to be your wrongdoings, but rather a time to forge a greater sense of connection and understanding between you and your deepest self, rid yourself of any resentment or ill will, and open your heart.
Welcome In Acceptance
Throughout the day, practice inviting acceptance toward whatever stage you find yourself amidst the self love journey. This allows you to see room for growth. It also enables you to find the inner strength needed to meet yourself wherever you are. Acknowledging that you have faced circumstances on your journey that have caused strife and perhaps even evoked hate that has made it more difficult to love yourself, allows you to seek resolve, and find a willingness in your heart to foster love here, exactly where you are.
Communicate Your Message
At the heart of any healthy relationship is authentic communication. Consider using Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to communicate authentically the love you want for yourself to those who mean the most to you. This allows you to visualize this love, and foster the willingness to welcome it into your life. If you aren’t comfortable communicating this externally, the most important thing is that you are willing to communicate openly with yourself. Grab a piece of paper and write your message down, so you can look back on it every day when you wake up, every night before you rest your head, and every time you simply need a gentle reminder.
Share The Love
Ultimately no love is meant to be held tightly within, but instead, shared outwardly, with community. No woman (or man) is an island, after all. Whether it’s family, friends, significant other or spouse, a community of friends you’ve connected with, or even someone you see hurting from a distance, take a moment out of your day to pass along a message of love to another set of eyes. Embracing actions of love and kindness that take you outside of yourself, and are directed toward someone else, in turn, nourishes your own heart in ways greater than you could have imagined. Yes, self love starts deep within each individual heart, but once it grows and flourishes, it is powerful enough to radiate and touch the lives of all of those you come in contact with throughout your daily journey.