Tomorrow, it’s Valentine’s Day again, and maybe you are not feeling so lovey-dovey. Maybe you are feeling low or lonely.
Maybe you are feeling the cold emptiness of loss of those who should still be here but are not here anymore. Maybe you are feeling the defeat of making ends meet when no matter how hard you work, the numbers are not adding up. Maybe your plan is not going as planned. Maybe the weather just seems so wrong.
And since Valentine’s Day is about love, and you are deep in the darkness, maybe you feel like Valentine’s Day is not for you this year. Maybe you feel completely left out, watching people around you exchange kisses and love while you stand alone in your pain.
But if you want to try something new to do when you are feeling blue, this day of love is just for you. Love’s most valiant duty is to keep us going in times of despair. Choosing to love when you are blue or even emotionally black-and-blue is a choice to say yes to living. It is a choice to courageously look darkness in the face and say “I see you, but you do not control me.”
A choice to love when you feel terrible inside does not mean you have to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything is good and fine. Love has many faces and infinite expressions. In a broad sense, love is anything that emerges from your intention to connect in a way that honors your self, other people, or the world in which you live.
So on this Valentine’s Day, take a chance and dive into the great expanse of love:
- Cuddle your baby. Kiss your husband. Take your dog for a walk. Text a friend. Call your mom.
- Weed your garden. Take photographs of the sky. Go on a walk through the woods and experience the smells and sights around you.
- Try a new restaurant, go to a gallery, look at the architecture. Sit in the park and people-watch.
- Watch your favorite movie. Sing in your choir. Sing in the shower. Dance through your living room.
- Meditate. Go to a place of worship. Read a book about growth or transformation.
- Connect with yourself. Validate your feelings of fear. Kindly remind yourself that ‘it is going to be okay.’ Let yourself stay in bed and cry.
- Savor a slice of blueberry pie. Inhale the aroma of coffee.
- Express your emotions. Tell your sister that you feel sad. Ask for a hug. Ask (nicely) for space from your partner to work on your project. Let a friend know you feel hurt by something he or she said.
There are so many possibilities. However, choosing to love when you are feeling down is often neither easy nor simple. It is common for people to shut down, numb themselves, turn against others, push others away, or withdraw from life when feeling scared, angry or powerless. Perhaps this is your pattern. Perhaps it has developed through a combination of your natural brain chemistry and life experiences that taught you to respond in these ways to protect yourself.
So on this day of love, maybe the first step toward choosing love is to get support to learn how make a shift from this pattern of shutdown and retreat. Learn a new pattern in which you actually do the opposite and lean in toward life when feeling emotional pain.
You might also need to learn to differentiate between healthy ways to love when you are hurting inside and unhealthy behaviors such as ignoring the reality of an unhealthy relationship.
This learning process can take time and patience. You may need treatment for depression, addiction or trauma. You may also need support to deal with the feelings and vulnerabilities that can arise as you begin to practice overriding your instinct to disconnect and instead begin pushing to connect more deeply in those darker moments.
Valentine’s Day might be sold as a heart-shaped ‘box’ of happily-ever-after romance. But really it is about love – an experience so vast and powerful that it does not need to try to defeat or obscure pain in order to triumph. As you let your feelings of sadness, fear and hurt propel you to seek connect more, live more, experience more, love wins just by showing up.