Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. For those who are single, it can be the most dreaded holiday of the year. We are confronted with stores filled with Hallmark cards and heart-shaped gifts, flower shops that promote their last minute flower deals, and restaurants offering romantic menus. It can feel like the whole world is in a relationship except ourselves. Before we know it, we find ourselves in a dark hole filled with worry, self-loathing and negative self-talk.
You see, no one will ever love me. I am ugly and unlovable.
For people with an eating disorder, Valentine’s Day can be even more stressful. Having a low self-esteem, poor body image, and difficulty expressing feelings can easily turn into negative thoughts, anxiety, and self-loathing. How do you cope with these feelings and have a day filled with love (even if you are single)?
This year, I encourage you to celebrate this Valentine’s Day even if you aren’t in a relationship. Choose to make it more about self-love instead of romantic love. Rather than focusing on the fact that you are single, be your own date and use this day to honor, nurture and treat yourself. Let the core notion of love be your inspiration.
Here are 5 ways to fill Valentine’s Day with self-love and compassion.
1. Write yourself a love letter
Have you ever written yourself a letter? It may feel awkward initially, but it’s a practice that positively strengthens the relationship you have with yourself. You deserve to love yourself and your body just as much as you show love to others. It is essential to boost your confidence and self-esteem.
It can be tempting to lose yourself in negative feelings about being single. You may even forget the first one to fall in love with is yourself.
Embracing the person that you are is the first step to becoming who you want to be and connecting to your true soul.
So take a moment to look in the mirror to realize that you are beautiful exactly as you are. Approach your reflection with compassion and write a love letter to yourself as if you would to somebody else. “Dear [your name]…”
2. Treat yourself
Treat yourself to the book that you want to read, the movie you want to see or cook yourself a nice dinner. Take care of yourself as you would nurture your loved one. Learning to have “quality time” on your own will help you to love yourself and become your own best friend.
3. Remember that you are loved
Love includes so much more than romantic love. It’s all around us and freely available to anyone who knows to look for it. It isn’t a destination, but something you must choose to open yourself to.
Focus on the present moment to become aware of the beauty that surrounds you. Notice how trees start to blossom and birds sing to welcome Spring. When you open your heart to the love that already surrounds you and practice connecting to your true desires you begin to see it elsewhere.
The heart must be opened for love to flow out. ~ Miriam
4. Celebrate failures and make peace with the past
Dwelling on the past or beating yourself up for failures locks your heart. Feelings and emotions can result in self-loathing. I lived with a severe eating disorder for many years and I remember how the thoughts I adopted about myself became my truth. I punished myself for each failure I made. I believed, wholeheartedly, that I was nothing but a failure. My past became part of my being.
But after many years I realized that to move forward you have to let go of what lies behind.
I began to look deeper into my soul, digging up the roots of who I really was. Then I was finally able to make peace with the past, release it and to find my true and authentic self.
Past struggles, mistakes, failures, are all important building blocks of growing and becoming who you really are. Instead of using failures to go backwards you realize they are the stepping-stones that move you forward. Embrace them and see them as opportunities that eventually will lead to success in whatever you want.
I invite you to give yourself permission to fail. And to love yourself for trying. Did you try something that didn’t work out as you hoped? Awesome! Use it to find a way that does. Self-forgiveness opens up room for love, growth and success. So go ahead and remember that when you fail, you fail upward.
5. Spend time with family or friends
Did you know that one of the best ways to feel more love and gratitude is to give love to others? Do you have a friend or family member who is going through a difficult time? Send a nice card. Can your grandma use some help with her groceries? Be sure to help her out. It’s the act of giving that is more rewarding than receiving and will increase your self-esteem.
So if you find yourself wallowing in negative self-talk reach out and connect with a friend or family member. They are the ones that fully embrace you for who you are. I remember being single and during that time, one of the best Valentine’s Days was spent with my best friend watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail while eating a pint of ice cream.
Remember that love is always surrounding you, no matter what struggles you currently find yourself in.
It exists deep inside you and is waiting to be embraced again. So be open to love from others and most importantly yourself.
Happy Valentine’s Day!