Article by Dr Tony Ortega
Ah, Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year coupled individuals are forced by this weird societal norm to do something special for their partner/romantic interest. The singles sit on the sidelines feeling left out and less than; beating themselves up for being single. We, as single individuals, need to challenge this. First, let’s take a look at the history of Valentine’s Day.
Its origins date back to Roman times in which fertility was celebrated and women were paired off to men by way of lottery as the festival of Lupercalia. Towards the end of the fifth century, Lupercalia was replaced with St. Valentines. There is no real identified person that was St. Valentine. There is a legend of a martyred priest who signed a letter to his jailer’s daughter “from your Valentine.” There is also some obscure bishop associated with being St. Valentine. The late 1700s gave birth to commercially printed materials with Cupid, the Roman god of love. Birds also became a symbol of Valentine’s Day as mating season for the birds begin in mid-February.
So, this is a real kick in the ass. This day of love is associated with getting pregnant, being auctioned off to someone you may not even like, two dudes no one really know anything about, a Roman god wearing a diaper and bird sex. This is what we get all depressed about? Let’s restructure this, folks, so single people can benefit just as much as our coupled counterparts.
Self Love on Valentine’s Day
1 – Since the origin of this day involve love, let’s make it about love. Is romantic love the only way you know how to love? Why does this day only have to be one way? If you take into account what we truly know about this holiday, we can really make it whatever we want and not what society tells us it needs to be. Take a look at the love already in your life and celebrate those instead of focusing on the one you don’t have.
2 – Identify all of your strengths and wonderful things in your life. Celebrate those. Create more passion for your own life. When we become totally okay with who we are, we become more passionate about our lives. Take an inventory of all the great things about you. Pick one and celebrate the life out of it. Tell me you won’t feel more passionate afterward.
3 – Put all your negative thoughts on the witness stand. If you have not seen an episode of Law and Order (any of the franchises), you must have seen some legal drama which can provide you with an example of how to put someone on the witness stand. When the negative thoughts are bombarding you on Valentine’s Day (or any other day), put them on the witness stand and before they come off, they have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are real. Your negative thoughts will never be able to do that.
4 – Start creating new rituals/practices for yourself on Valentine’s Day. Be a trendsetter and not a follower. These could include permanent self-care practices. I personally refer to this day as The Day of Self-Love. I make sure that I do at least one thing to pamper myself. Be it major or minor – I walk into the activity saying, “This is for me because it’s the National Day of Self-Love.”
5 – Ask yourself this question – If you were your partner, what would you do for your partner on Valentine’s Day? Once you have answered that question, go do that. No further explanation is really needed. If it’s some activity you want to do, go do it. At the end of the day, we want to feel special. Do something for yourself to feel special.
6 – Why not show your love by doing something nice for someone else? Go volunteer somewhere and show your love to people who really just want something to eat or something very basic to make their day better. Instead of focusing on the love you are not getting, go give some love to someone else.
7 – Look at your To-Do list or your Bucket List. Pick out one thing you have either avoided or have always wanted to do but never made the time. Go do that. You can tell yourself it’s a self-love act while you’re at it.
Dr Tony Ortega is the author of #AreYouHereYet? How to STFU and Show Up For Yourself (Ortus Press, Free Association Books), £11.99, available online and in all good bookshops as a paperback and ebook from Valentine’s Day 2020.
Dr Tony Ortega is a first-generation Cuban American. He’s a licensed clinical psychologist, life coach and author with 28 years’ experience, and currently runs his private practice located in Brooklyn, New York.