If you’re someone who’s dreading Valentine’s Day this week given what seems like an endless search for love, I’d like to make a suggestion: don’t look to someone else. At least not yet. Before you invest your time or energy into one more relationship, hookup, or friendship, hear me out as I encourage you invest in yourself first.
Every day, we are bombarded with messages of what love should look like. And truth be told, the propaganda is straight up disastrous. We are taught that love is external to ourselves—outside our realm of control. Love is dependent on whether the hot colleague asks us out, whether our partner purchases the perfect gift or whether flowers arrive at our office.
However, love is an experience that is unique for each of us. For some, love is passion and adventure. For others, it’s safety and comfort. And the only way to have a fulfilling love life is to understand your heart and its needs in relation with yourself and others. It is for this reason that this Valentine’s Day, I recommend you redefine your understanding of love.
Now, if the thought of spending time with yourself is making your skin crawl, no need to worry! Below are five suggestions for creating the time and space you need to take inventory of your heart and reconnect with yourself:
Make it a Date
Forget your relationship status - make a date with yourself. Prepare your favourite food, open a good bottle of wine and create your ideal evening just because you’re worth it.
2. Give yourself a tech break.
Chances are, you don’t really need to be bombarded with photos of what your acquaintances are eating. And let’s not forget that the love lives people portray of themselves online can be vastly different from what their relationship is actually like behind closed doors. Quiet the external noise to make more room for the voice we’re trying to reconnect with, yours.
Regardless of whether you are in a relationship – I would encourage you reflect on how your relationships are serving you in this season of your life. Which relationships do you find nourishing? Which relationships are draining? Are there areas where boundaries need to be established? Take inventory of which relationships you determine are healthy, loving and supportive, and explore strategies for putting boundaries around those that are toxic.
4. Declutter Your Space
We know from research that decluttering your physical space helps create clarity both mentally and emotionally. Take an afternoon or evening to go through the crap in your home and get tossing! Or better yet, get donating! It is astonishing how much lighter you will feel after a few hours of purging the things in your life that no longer serve you.
5. Practice Gratitude
In a world where we are constantly being fed messages that we are not enough, it’s more important than ever to shatter that type of thinking by reminding yourself of all you have to be grateful for. I often encourage people to write gratitude letters, whether it be to a loved one or anyone who has had a profound impact on your life. It’s refreshing to shift your focus to what you do have. Or, write a letter to yourself from what you imagine your future self to be like. If you were ten years older, what advice would you give yourself now?
The Bottom Line
Valentine’s Day can be a stressful holiday for those who are both in and out of relationships. But if we try to simply shift our focus, we can use this holiday as an opportunity to give ourselves some much-needed tender loving care. After all, the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one of all.
You Tell Me!
Whether you're in a relationship, single, or in any other type of relationship, how do you keep a level head during Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments section!
Today's post is brought to you by the lovely Amy Deacon, a Clinical Social Worker who has providing therapy in Toronto since 2009. Enjoy!