Couple on Valentines day

“I’m sick of Valentine’s Day,” Amalie told me. “It’s just designed to make you feel bad—whether you are in a relationship or not! I’d love to be able to let go of my feelings around this holiday—can you help?”

Amalie is just one of many of my clients who struggle with this day. Though we all know Valentine’s Day is a fabricated holiday—a “Hallmark holiday” as some call it—most of us need to dig deep to dispel the powerful effects created by decades of marketing. Developing a real love for oneself is the best way to let V-day be what it is: a day set aside to celebrate love of all kinds.

The Most Important Love

Although you’ve probably heard it a million times, the most important love we can learn to cultivate is self-love. When I tell my clients this, they nod and say, “yeah, I know,” but they don’t really believe it. After all, our culture constantly tells us that it is much more important to have love outside of ourselves.

The irony is, of course, if you don’t love yourself—at least a little—you won’t attract loving relationships. The way we feel about ourselves inside will be mirrored by the kinds of relationships we end up in. This most often shows up as co-dependency, and these kinds of connections end up causing a lot of pain.

How, then, do we develop self-love? It is a practice that grows over time, but I find it helps speed up the process to have my clients participate in self-love rituals and practices. Valentine’s Day, and the whole month of February, in general, is a perfect time to begin nurturing and loving yourself.

The Perfect Date (With Yourself!)

Amalie was skeptical about giving herself the Valentine’s Day she always wished someone else (preferably her Prince Charming) would give her.

“It feels kinda pathetic,” she said.

This is a common objection because, again, we are taught that it’s better to receive love from outside of ourselves than from within. I asked her to try. “No one has to know,” I told her. It is more powerful to tell others that you love yourself than hide it away, but any start is better than none.

Many women, including Amalie, want to receive flowers, be taken to dinner, or receive other lovely presents. My first instruction for Amalie was to set up her V-day to be as open as possible. She was able to take the day off work, so we crafted a personal day of love, which started with her favorite yoga class. From there, she planned to meet a friend for brunch at a fancy restaurant—including champagne and oysters (her favorite). The friend was inspired to plan her own special day as well. After the brunch, Amalie went shopping and allowed herself to buy whatever she wanted. For her, it was a new pair of boots she’d been coveting. For you, it might be a massage or spa treatment.

After shopping, Amalie went to the grocery and selected food and wine to make herself a sumptuous dinner. She was nervous about this part, afraid she’d feel lonely. I urged her to just try it and be open to any experience that arose. Dates don’t always go perfectly, so don’t expect a date with yourself to always be ideal either! Her post-dinner plan included a phone call to a far away friend and a hot bath before bed.

She checked in with me later and admitted it had been a pretty great day. The dinner had been a little challenging, but she had let herself read her favorite magazine during the meal, and it had passed pleasantly enough. To keep up the momentum, I had her think about something nice she could do for herself each day. It didn’t have to cost money or be elaborate; just something that, if she were her own best friend, mother, or lover, she would be happy to do for herself. Amalie applied herself to this practice, though sometimes she forgot or was skeptical. Ultimately, it made a huge difference in her life and even helped her manifest a new relationship.

Because she is so practiced in loving herself now, it is easier for her to continue providing that for herself without expecting her new man to give it all. Having a regular self-love practice has bolstered her self-esteem, confidence, and self-compassion. In short, it’s really made her a better person and improved the quality of her life!

Crafting Your Personal Practice

Amalie had the resources to spend a lot of money on her day and even have the day off. But if this isn’t the case for you, don’t worry. Self-love practices can be as simple as a visit to a flower shop or playing around at the perfume counter in a nice department store. The important thing to identify is how you want to feel loved, by you.

Try this process for a week. As you wake, take a moment to really check in with what you want to experience that day. What would you really like to receive? What would make you feel special? For most of us, it isn’t truly a big thing, or even a material thing, that we really want. Make a commitment to give to yourself, and take it one day at a time. Sometimes you won’t manage it. That’s okay, but don’t quit the process. Remember, you aren’t stopping your love for others or invalidating any longings you have to bring more external love into your life. You are actually creating a stronger, more receptive vessel for giving and receiving all kinds of love.

Amalie maintained her self-love practices—along with keeping a daily gratitude journal—for several weeks before it felt natural and a few months before her energy to attract her desires dramatically increased. If you want others to be committed to your well-being, it has to start with you! Take the time, and see what unfolds. Self-love is the most powerful gift you can give yourself—and the world. A spiritual advisor can help you with this process and assist with removing any blocks that might be in the way of loving yourself more deeply.

Ready to experience Valentine’s Day as a true festival of love—one that starts with you? Advisors on Keen can help you grow your own spiritual and self-love practices. Call today!