Valentine’s Day is celebrated every February 14 in the Anglo-American culture as a day of romance.
Like many traditions in the United States, this holiday is a derivative from the Judeo-Christian tradition, honoring martyrs that have received saint status. Although Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in any country, it is a day set aside to celebrate romantic love culturally, religiously and commercially.
As Valentines Day approaches this year, I’ve been thinking about the value of this holiday. Negative perspectives have been springing up around our electronic consciousness (aka social media outlets) about this “sweet as a toothache” holiday.
These current rattlings in the world have inspired me to think deeper about the idea of Love and to invite my single friends to transform the negative stigma of Valentine’s Day for those uninvolved in romantic relationships.
An Opportunity For Possibility
But first, a bit of a disclaimer. I am happily married now for just about 12 years. Before this phase of my life, however, I did ‘my time’ as a single hopeless romantic for at least 14 years of my adult life.
I know what it is like to be single: both the beautiful aspects of not being tied down and the sucky aspects of feeling like I would FOREVER be alone.
My path has lead me down a journey of enormous transformation and discovery that is my life today and, in retrospect, I am so grateful for all my experiences.
Despite the ooey-gooey bubbling hearts that float about during this holiday, if you are single (or in a relationship for that matter), understand that this day is an opportunity to return to Love.
So Much Love & So Many Kinds!
In the English language, we primarily have one word for love. This word is utilized to articulate the love for your parents, your lover, and chocolate all in the same way. Regardless of how much you love chocolate, it is not the same as the love you feel for your parents. And the love for your mom is not the same as the love you have for the guy you are crushing on. Nevermind the varying degrees of love in each kind of Love (I’ll save this tidbit for another post!)☺️
If you google “types of love” no doubt, results will come up with 4, 6, 7 or 8 (and beyond) types of love.
The ancient Greeks have many names for Love. Amongst them are the following:
- Eros: Love of the body. Eros was the Greek God of love, fertility and sexual desire.
- Philia: Love of the mind. Also, know as brotherly love, Philia represents the sincere and platonic love. Affectionate Love
- Ludus: Playful love.
- Storge: Love of the child. Familiar love.
- Pragma: Longstanding love. Enduring Love.
- Mania: or Obsessive Love
- Philautia: Love of the self. Self-love
- Agape: Love of the soul. Selfless Love
My “Stuckness” Brought to Light
As I was single (both lawfully, literally and relationship wise) on most Valentine’s Days before I got married, I dreaded seeing pink hearts, candies and Love notes around me. Plain and simple, it just felt annoying.
In the same vein of how Christmas might feel hurtful to some because they may have lost a loved one over the holidays, Valentine’s Day felt like a blatant reminder of how I had not found my Love. And somehow, without speaking the words aloud, I secretly felt resentful that Cupid and his cherubs were taunting me for dodging Love's arrow.
Have you, or do you think some version of this too, that you have not admitted to anyone?
I was tired of feeling this, and once I realized how it was not serving me, I decided that rather than sitting on the outskirts of this holiday, I wanted to participate and integrate the idea of Valentine’s Day in a new way.
Rather than allow the outward appearance of bubbly hearts, red chocolate candies, and flowers to trigger me into self-loathing and lightly finding some way to “be okay,”
I wanted real change, from the inside out.
I wanted and needed to change my perspective on Valentine’s Day.
Authentic Unconditional Love, From the Inside Out
More than just the action of purchasing the items and gifting it to myself, I wanted a genuine, unconditional Love, beginning with the most critical relationship I can have with a human being: myself.
After all, I thought, who would love me if I didn’t love myself? What kind of partner and relationship would I attract if I did not cultivate deep abiding self-love?
Philautia: Love of Self
Self-love, or Philautia, as the Greeks called it, has been a continual practice for me. It is the path that I have taken to return to the presence of being and to come home to my tender, sensitive heart.
Philautia has two possible routes: One is unhealthy, resulting in self-obsession, self-promotion and plain old pure narcissism (consciousness that it’s all about you, and no one else).
The other route of philautia is a more healthy, wholesome path of self-love. It cultivates self-compassion, insight, understanding, appreciation, and honor. This facet of self-love expands my capacity to love and fuels the love for others, serving as a foundation for all my relationships.
When there is disharmony, miscommunication, disagreement or conflict of any sort, I always return to the gentle primary relationship of love - loving myself and the spirit of life and light that channels as me.
At the point of any conflict, I return to my conversations with myself and just listen. Allowing me to be who I am and to be present to the process of what I may be going through, I enter into a space of quiet solitude.
Even as I may seem in quiet contemplation, there are times when the conversation within gets incredibly loud.
I sit in patience as I merely observe the dynamic of my inner child and inner elder talk to my ego.
Eventually, the conflict within works itself out. This is when I take the wisdom derived from my time in The Silence and respond to whomever I need resolution.
I do the work on a spiritual level, resolving 1st the disharmony in my heart before I take any outer action.
My goal is harmony in relationships, but this can only be achieved with cultivating and practicing self-love, and inner harmony (whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day ☺️).
You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have
This is the ultimate Truth, isn’t it?
We just can’t give what we don’t have.
If healthy and wholesome self-love has not been tended to, cultivated or nurtured, what you attract is what you possess.
Are you ready to deal with two of you with the same level of self-love (or lack thereof?) Honestly, it is a whole lot more work to tend to two people who need self-love than just the one (yourself!)
It starts from the inside out
When you go out to look for Love, or your special someone (your Valentine), you must first look in the mirror.
When you are face to face with yourself, make your courage count. You owe it to yourself to ask hard questions and to answer honestly.
Pivotal Self-Love Questions to Answer from your Heart
When you ask the right questions, your amazing, stellar brain will answer rightly. Here are some questions to ask yourself for deeper insight:
1. How do you love yourself?
Take a mental inventory of how you might take care of yourself: physically emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise. Do you eat well so you can support your fantastic body? Do you take time for self-care? Do you notice when you need a break and therefore, take one? Or do you power through it and run yourself ragged? Do you deprive yourself or overindulge on certain things? Take time to Notice how you treat yourself overall.
2. How do you talk to yourself?
Notice yourself talk. If you are not familiar with the voice that speaks to you from within, notice how you talk to others. Are you brash, stern, gentle, kind? What is your attitude toward others you might judge harshly? How do you respond to someone who has triggered you (especially in the communication of social media space)? Do you lash out a snarky reply when some snaps at you? Or do you merely notice what they say and know it’s NOT you, with the resolve to not respond but to address it later.
3. Do You REALLY Know Yourself as well as You Think?
Have you self-awareness and self-compassion? Do you have Insight on how you tick? What motivates you? What drives you to do certain things? Are you aware of how you act, react in certain situations? Do you respond or react? Are there things about you that you wish to change, just as much as things you’d like to celebrate about yourself? What do you know you need to do for yourself but have not merely because you’ve been putting it off?
Those are profound questions to contemplate and ask yourself.
Take your time. Be with them. I know they seem.difficult to answer. Be with them, regardless.
You are worth it.
You are worth your own time, energy and attention to contemplate and answer these questions.
It is easy to say, “I’ll address them later, when I have more time...” But you may never get back to answering them.
The work that needs to be done - the renovation from the inside out - remains untouched, incomplete, or worst yet, in ruins.
Invest in Yourself
The time you take to invest in yourself is not a waste of time. It is sweat equity.
Once you embark on your path of being present to yourself, a world of incredible opportunities will arise.
You will change for the better.
With the insight and the profound wisdom you uncover, Valentine’s Day will be an opportunity to celebrate the greatest Love of all: self-love - the love and appreciation of the magnificent soul you are!!
Go For It!
Your sweat equity and hard work will go a long way in helping you become the person you are always meant to be: one filled with Love, with an expanded capacity to Love, and with the ability to share this Love as agape - selfless, uninhibited and soulful.
From this foundation of relentless, persistent, self-compassion, you will rise from self-loathing, indifference and boredom. You will shine brightly, attracting to you not just own self-respect, but another soul whose energy is a match to and for you!
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