Guest post by Mindset Mentor Gillian Shields
You know that scene in a romantic comedy where ‘the single person’ is sitting on their couch alone drinking wine, and feeling like garbage because they wish they had someone to sweep them off their feet? (Bridget Jones, anyone?) Or, what about the one where they are giving the evil eye to a couple snuggling up in a café, because it’s just another reminder that they are ‘missing out?’ Well, it turns out that lots of people who live alone and are single have felt like this in real life, especially on Valentine’s Day. Some of us feel it just by starting to think about Valentine’s Day! I know I sure did.
I used to dread the ‘day of love.’ If I wasn’t dreading it, I was ignoring it like it meant nothing at all. When I was single, I felt like I didn’t ‘fit in’ with Valentine’s Day, or that it wasn’t really meant for me. Most of my solo comrades either spent the day alone – not celebrating in any way – or got together to cheers on a mutual belief that Valentine’s Day was nonsense. In relationships, I tended to get stressed because it meant I had to come up with something Valentines-esque to do with my partner, buy a gift of some sorts, and try to beat the crowds for a dinner reservation. The thought of not going out or not doing anything typical of Valentine’s Day felt wrong, or like I wasn’t celebrating proper.’ Maybe some or all of this is sounding familiar to you.
The reason for feeling either negative or positive emotion about anything really, comes down to one thing: mindset. What you think of and believe about the ‘day of love’ literally creates how you feel and what you do. And this, my friends, is what powers your experience. Here’s the good news: you are in complete control over your mindset and thus, your experience. It’s time to take control of your Valentine’s Day experience so that it is actually pretty darn good!
Making your Valentine’s Day a good one means taking action to cultivate a positive, empowering mindset and dropping a negative, disempowering one related to yourself and the day. It’s about making yourself feel good and letting go of any pre-conceived notions about Valentine’s Day that disempower you and prevent you from enjoying it.
Here are 4 powerful tips to master your Valentine’s Day mindset so you can rock it solo:
1. Flip your perspective and challenge typical notions about Valentine’s Day
It’s easy to believe that Valentine’s Day is only about couples or a romantic relationship. I get it. It’s how the day is marketed and this belief is everywhere in most Western cultures. But beliefs are changeable. They aren’t ultimate truths, and they aren’t etched in stone. They are specific perspectives that we have adopted due to past experiences, what we have observed, or what we’ve heard from other people. The truth is, Valentine’s Day can just be about celebrating love, and guess what? You get to choose who and what that includes. You can make it about you and the people you love (e.g. your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, kids, pets etc.), whether that includes a romantic partner or not.
How do you think Valentine’s Day really goes down? Do you imagine couples staring lovingly into each others’ eyes at dinner or arguing about where to go or what to do? The truth is both scenarios happen, but not everyone in a couple experiences Valentine’s Day like this. Some people just stay in and chill out. People spend it with their kids, pets, or have a game night with their family. Honestly, there is no right or wrong way. If we believe that Valentine’s Day is only meant to happen a ‘certain way,’ it just means that we have given in to a limited perspective. It means we’re not acknowledging all the other ways that people usually spend Valentine’s Day that don’t fit with the usual definition.
What and who do you want Valentine’s Day to represent? This is what matters and what will make your day. Take a moment to choose a perspective that makes you feel good. Look for examples of people who rock the day in a way that isn’t centred on typical Valentine’s Day notions and who have adopted their own perspectives about it. If you can’t find any examples, then be the first to rock it yourself so you can be an example for someone else who needs a little inspiration.
2. Make it about you, in a good way
In my opinion, the number one person on your ‘love list’ should be yourself. Too many of us make Valentine’s Day about ourselves, but in a disempowering way. We focus on why the day ‘means we are missing out’ or all the reasons we’re not doing enough for someone else. We focus on feeling our alone-ness, instead of feeling good alone. Feeling this way can totally ruin our Valentine’s Day experience.
What makes you feel good? What makes you feel alive? What makes you feel at peace? Do it and feel it on Valentine’s Day. Appreciate yourself. Give yourself credit for something you accomplished, even if it was small. Anything that made things a little better than they were the day before. Give yourself a break. Buy yourself a gift, – anything that makes you happy (a tasty meal, a new pair of shoes, anything!) The truth is, we should be doing these things for ourselves on the regular and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Make it about celebrating you and your life on this earth because you know what? You are worth celebrating.
3. Give to others
Being generous and giving has a powerful effect on our mindset. Giving makes us feel good – when we give, happy chemicals are released in our brain, bringing us joy and fulfillment. Giving can include doing a favour for someone who needs a break, baking a treat for a loved one, or giving a physical gift such as flowers. On Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to give – in any way you can – to someone you love, someone in need, or a charity. It doesn’t need to be big. But giving helps both parties to feel a sense of value and belonging, and it lifts the other person’s spirits as well as yours. Who wouldn’t want that?!
4. And for Pete’s sake, please don’t participate in judging Valentine’s Day!
I’m totally guilty of judging and throwing shade at Valentine’s Day, as I’m sure most of us are. It’s easier to judge something if we can’t find a way to like it, have had a bad related experience, or feel like we are excluded. This is how our beliefs about a topic can form, impacting how we feel and what we do. It’s okay to not love Valentine’s Day, but criticizing or making fun of it only does one thing: keeps us in a negative, judgemental mindset. When we are in this mindset, it can make us feel bad, resentful, angry, sad, and anything else but good. This frame of mind only hurts our Valentine’s Day experience.
On many past Valentine’s Days, my single friends and I used to make fun and laugh about how pointless it was. Before we knew it, we were cheers-ing with our wine glasses to the phrase, “Valentine’s Day is crap!”. Was it funny sometimes? Yup. Did it make us feel like we understood each other? Definitely. Did it make us feel good? Not exactly.
We did it because it was easier to make fun than admit that maybe some of us were lonely and actually wanted to feel love, on the day of love. Judging might feel satisfying at first – but it can actually stop us from feeling good because it creates emotions that are opposite to love. Throwing shade at Valentine’s Day left me feeling bad in a way that even the wine couldn’t dull. It made me more attuned to my single-ness, as if it were a bad thing, or something that needed defending. In judging the day of love, I was really judging myself. That’s the thing about judgment – when we do it, we are also hurting ourselves.
A final thought
When you see Valentine’s Day as a day that represents love, in all its forms and ways, there is nothing to judge or feel bad about. In fact, there is lots to feel good about! So why not make Valentine’s Day your own, celebrating being solo with joy, peace, love, and a sense of belonging because you have let it be so.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Gillian Shields (M.Sc.) is a Love Life Mindset Mentor and Writer. Using principles rooted in psychology, brain behaviour, and spirituality, she helps people master their mindset to strengthen self-belief and reach relationship goals. Gillian offers advice and mentoring through her blog, coaching program, and other resources. Her first book, to help solo people break free of dating patterns and have the relationship they want, is coming out later in 2021.
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