Be Your Own Valentine
Valentine’s Day and I have a long and sordid history. It started in the 4th grade when the boy I liked (yes, I’m referring to you Mark Jarzomski) used my homemade Valentine card as a paper football during lunch.
My dislike of the holiday continued through my teens when the boy I had dated for three years during high school (yes, I’m referring to you Larry VanCassle) dumped me on Valentine’s Day to start dating my ex-BFF (yes, I’m referring to you Becky Hart). I had actually been waiting for him to pick me up and take me to Olive Garden for our big date when the phone rang. Took me years until I could once again down a whole basket of those breadsticks by myself.
Valentine’s Days were no better during my twenties as I spent a good part of that decade single. When I was dating, the guys either completely forgot the holiday or commemorated it instead with their friends at a sports bar eating wings and sliders.
It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that I made amends with the holiday and used it to celebrate the love for myself instead of the love I had for another.
For all of you that just rolled your eyes – I recognize the bitterness and contempt. And that’s okay. You are still very much entrenched in the holiday Hershey’s and various perfume manufacturers have pushed on us over the decades. But with further reading you just may come around to my side and recognize that Valentine’s is the perfect day to commit to being the real love of your life.
What’s There to Love?
Most of us spend our entire lives focusing on what we don’t like about ourselves. We’re not as smart or pretty or athletic as the other kids. We don’t have the perfect body, the perfect car or the perfect job and that’s why we’ll never find our soulmate.
When we become our own valentine, it’s a great excuse to focus on what we DO like and value about ourselves. The holiday can be about feeling good, nay, great about ourselves, instead of feeling the typical self-judgement and shame and depression that many of us experience most of the year.
Of course the hope is, once you allow yourself to feel good about you for one day, you’ll do it more and more throughout the year. I will admit, that part took perseverance, as at first, feeling good about me was akin to a guilty pleasure. But I can tell you that over the last few years, valuing and loving myself has gotten easier and easier.
For anyone thinking that loving and valuing oneself is narcissistic, you are completely wrong. Being selfish can be a negative thing, but being self-involved in the sense that you believe in self-love, self-compassion, and self-care, is something completely different and completely healthy.
Showing Yourself Love Can Be Easy
If you’re starting to see why becoming a holiday rogue and being your own valentine is a great idea, here are some ways you can show yourself some love this February and beyond:
Make Healthier Choices
Most of us would never let our kids eat what we sometimes eat, and yet we have no problem having that giant, sugary latte and cinnamon roll for breakfast or that fast food for lunch. On Valentine’s, instead of indulging in junk food (yes, that means no entire pint of Haagen-Dazs while watching “Sense & Sensibility), why not make healthier choices that respect your body instead.
Go to a local farmer’s market or Whole Foods and buy some gorgeous produce, then sip a glass of wine at home while making yourself the most colorful salad. Showing yourself you are worth nurturing is very transformative.
Of course I can’t talk about self-love without mentioning the benefits of mindfulness meditation. The practice of meditation can mean many things to many people, but for me, it simply means becoming more aware of myself, and becoming more okay with whatever awareness I gain.
Meditation is also the antithesis of trying to obtain “perfection.” Being and being perfect are two entirely different things. Meditation simply asks you to “be” you, be real, be true in the moment, which is a very loving state to “be’ in.
Besides this powerful awareness and acceptance, meditation has been proven in many studies to have wide-ranging physical benefits as well, reducing stress and therefor the risk of heart attacks and strokes. I don’t know about you but I’d rather NOT have a heart attack than an entire box of Russel Stover chocolates.
Splurge on Yourself
Many people, especially women, tend to give everything to their friends, partners and kids. To these women, spending money on their own personal growth seems entirely selfish and unwarranted. Spending time alone feels equally self-indulgent. Though we can think this makes us great friends, spouses and mothers, it also makes us self-sabotaging and sets us up for ultimate resentment and exhaustion and depression.
It’s important that we take time for ourselves and nurture ourselves and you can start this ritual this month. Do something just for you this Valentine’s. Take yourself out to lunch (a healthy one), buy yourself that bracelet you’ve had your eye on, or spend the entire day on your couch reading your Kindle.
Putting our own needs first every so often makes us happier and more loving toward others.
Say No More Often
Of course, we can’t say “yes” to our own needs when we are constantly saying yes to everyone else’s. One of the best ways to love and value ourselves is to simply say “no” to other people more often.
Self-care is about setting boundaries and about saying no to obligations that bring us little or nothing in return. The more we say no, the more enjoyable and easier it becomes. The more we love and value ourselves, the more enjoyable and easier it becomes.
This Valentine’s Day, instead of worrying that you don’t have a date or that the one you have will completely forget the holiday, spend the day loving and valuing yourself and committing to doing more of it throughout the rest of the year.
Devon Herndon is a Licensed Professional Clinical/Substance Abuse Counselor, Personal Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and a nationally certified teacher. She is committed to helping young people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For counseling sessions, coaching, or training, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.