This is a tricky holiday.
As I reflect over the years, I’ve had my own personal love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.
When I was a little girl, I LOVED Valentine’s Day. I loved everything about it: picking out the box of cards I would give my friends at our school party, decorating my shoe box for our Valentine’s Day card exchange, decorating cupcakes to share with my classmates, decorating our room for our party, and making heart shaped cutouts from pink, red and white construction paper. It was such a fun part of the year.
If only Valentine’s Day could have remained so light and innocent.
Over the past almost 30 years, I’ve had several great experiences with this holiday and a whole bunch of not-so-great. The good or the bad isn’t necessarily tied specifically to “in a happy relationship” or “not in a happy relationship.” It was also tied to things like my overall happiness that year, my financial situation, my friendship situation, my mom situation….you get the point.
In the years where Valentine’s Day was destined to not come easy, I tackled it like an initiative. You see, if we don’t take proactive control of things in our lives, our thoughts can begin to consume us. Our thoughts become our feelings, and our feelings become our actions.
For all of you out there who are ready for this Valentine’s Day to be over, we have two options: Be a victim of this day or be an owner of this day.
If you’ve been around me for a while, you know that I like stepping up, taking ownership and designing a life that feels fulfilling, happy, and purposeful…in spite of the imperfections. I also know it’s often easier said than done.
What creates sadness on Valentine’s Day? While there are several reasons, below are the more common ones I hear:
- “I don’t have a special person.”
- “I’m recovering from a divorce.”
- “I’m in a marriage that isn’t working.”
- “All of my friends are married or in relationships. I’m not.”
- “My husband or significant other has passed away.”
- “My kids are grown and busy with their own lives.”
Can you relate to any of the above? If so, you are not alone.
If you are struggling with the idea of getting through this day, you also are not alone. Valentine’s Day is a difficult, sad, lonely day for many women.
So, what can you do?
Seven Ways to make your Valentine’s Day a happier day:
- Decide you will make it a happy day. Progress in any aspect of our life begins with the decision to take action. I know this is difficult if you’re feeling particularly sad or lonely. When you make this decision, you don’t have to have the answer. It can be as simple as saying to yourself, “I’m going to do something for myself on Valentine’s Day to make it a happy day for myself.” Happiness is a relative term. Mild happiness counts. We can be happy but still feel that inner tug of yearning for something better.
- Cook your favorite dinner. Can you make a nice dinner for yourself? I remember a scene in The Wedding Planner. Jennifer Lopez was single in the beginning of the movie. She came home one evening, set the table (placemat, candles and all), made a lovely dinner, poured herself a glass of wine, put on some music, sat down, put a cloth napkin in her lap, took a sip of her wine and began to eat. Was she sad? I don’t know. Maybe she was. Happy or sad, she was doing something so lovely for herself.
- Make plans with another friend. Sometimes we are so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to stop and think that others also don’t have it. If we’re ruminating on our ‘feel-sorry-for-myself’ thoughts, we’re not leaving space to think about others. Stop, reframe and begin to wonder about others around you. Who else may have their evening free on Valentine’s Day? And it may not be reserved for only your single friends. Years ago, my husband and I started hosting a gathering on Christmas night called “Christmas for the misfits.” I suggested this because, even though we have five adult children, we rarely have any of them with us on Christmas Day. THAT was a difficult pill to swallow as one of the many outcomes of a divorce situation. I decided, though, that others in a similar situation may like something to look forward to.
- Go to a movie. This is one of my favorites! And, yes, I’ve heard so many women say to me over the years, “I could never go to a movie by myself.” This is a great opportunity to practice courage. Think about it this way: when you’re in line, perhaps your friend is already inside to meet you, and if you walk to your seat alone, perhaps your friend is at the concession stand getting your popcorn. Also, people pay less attention to all of us around them. Have you ever noticed someone alone and thought ill thoughts about them? Probably not.
- Treat yourself to a massage. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting a massage, I’m pretty darn happy. Instead of thinking about what others are doing, can you pause and think about what you’re doing? Are you enjoying what you’re doing? Chances are you are. If only you could stop thinking about what you’re not doing. Can you drop the, “…..but I’m not out celebrating Valentine’s Day like so many people are?” How about, “I’m enjoying this massage.”
- Do something for someone else. Do you have friends or siblings with kids? Could you offer to stay with their kids so they can enjoy an evening out? “I don’t have any plans. I’d love to stay with the kids so you can go out for a nice dinner.” Yep! This one is a huge ‘put-aside-your-self-pity’ move. This, in fact, is a ‘rise-above-self-pity’ move…and share in someone else’s happiness. Do you have someone in your life who would enjoy flowers delivered to them? Bringing joy to someone else can help bring joy to you.
- Plan a purposeful stay-home evening. Can you stay home, plan things to do that you will enjoy….and have yourself a peaceful, calm, enjoyable Valentine’s Day evening. What would that involve? A nap? Binge watching your favorite show? Re-watching your favorite movie? Relaxing with a book? Do something you might not otherwise grant yourself the time to do.
What do you think? Can you take the initiative to make Valentine’s Day an enjoyable day for yourself?
Always always always keep in mind: Whatever difficult moment might be happening right now, Valentine’s Day 2020, “….it won’t always be like this.”
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