Valentines and Self Love

There are many myths about the origins of Valentine’s Day. In reality, Romans may be responsible for the name of this modern day of love. Emperor Claudius 11 executed two men – both named Valentine – on February 14 in the 3rd century AD. Their martyrdom was honoured by the Catholic church with a celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Over the centuries, the day has become a celebration of love and affection. Today, people use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show attraction, desire, adoration, appreciation and everything in between. The occasion has become a major commercial event, and loved ones may feel the pressure to plan extravagant dates and exchange gifts. However, some people may find it difficult to express their love and fall short when it comes to inventing romantic gestures. This can lead to disappointment and dashed hopes due to unexpressed expectations. 

We live in a culture where love is measured by what a person does or how much they spend. Valentine’s Day can cause immense turmoil for both parties involved as neither is aware of the expectations of the other. Most people struggle to verbalise what they want, which can lead to resentment when needs are unmet. This is exemplified by the number of couples who go for counselling because their relationship has eroded due to poor communication, disappointment and resentment. Thus, it is especially important to express your wants, needs and desires to your loved ones. As nice as it is to be showered with gifts and love on Valentine’s Day, it is also important to be loving and appreciative on the other 364 days of the year if you want to keep your relationship alive and healthy.

Being loved by another person is a special feeling, but you do not need to have a significant other to be validated as a worthy human being. I remember thinking during my adolescence that I was unlovable if nobody loved me or that I was not desired if I did not receive a Valentine’s Day card. I laugh at these notions today. However, I am sure there are millions of people in the world who still suffer for the reasons mentioned above. Counselling can serve as a great opportunity to explore such faulty beliefs.

I now know the importance of self-love so much so that I have come to realise that it is incredibly difficult to attract a loving person and have a healthy relationship with them if you do not love yourself first. Countless clients go to therapy because of dysfunctional relationships only to find out that love starts within them. Not loving oneself can stem from not having one’s needs met during their childhood. In a nutshell, if a child feels unloved, they usually assume that they are unlovable and unworthy. This unconscious belief can be perpetuated by a person making poor choices in partners and allowing others to treat them badly. 

I hear this question a lot: How do you love yourself? There are many ways to love yourself, such as getting to know yourself (what you think, want and need) and practising self-discipline by acting on what you need rather than what you want. Needs can keep us on track whereas wants can sabotage our goals. Some other ways include practising good self-care in all areas of your life through sufficient exercise, sleep, nutritional intake and social connection; setting healthy boundaries and learning to say no rather than pleasing people; keeping good company and avoiding negative or toxic people; forgiving yourself for being imperfect, as we all make mistakes; and setting goals and aspiring to be the best person you can be. 

Learning to love yourself should be practiced for yourself, not to attract a partner. It is said that you should make your life so interesting that meeting someone special is an added advantage, not a necessity. If you wish to celebrate Valentine’s Day, do not doubt yourself or be influenced by the media. Remember that you can do what makes you happy whether you are in or out of a relationship. So, here is to living your best life regardless of your relationship status.