As I write, it’s a few days before Valentine’s Day. The world seems to be covered in pink and red, candy hearts, and flowers; it’s beautiful. I, however, am thinking of those who don’t have a Valentine this year.
Love, Loss, & Valentine’s Day
Perhaps it’s because I’m about to release my new book on self-esteem after a breakup or divorce. Perhaps it’s because I’m thinking of my dear friend who died last April and of her husband, facing this Valentine’s Day alone for the first time. Perhaps, it’s because I know all too well that most love stories have sudden drops and falls, and I know there are so many who are feeling this now.
I can’t help but think of my parents, who always send us Valentine’s cards and who are missing their two departed daughters, and son-in-law, again this year. I think of my grandmothers, who have been living without their beloved husbands for years, or my mother-in-law, a widow of almost six years. I think of my own losses. And, I remember how much I have loved, and been loved.
Those who have lost a loved one—a parent, a child, a partner, a spouse, a friend—know what I mean. These simple holidays can bring up a great deal of pain, or at least, a great deal of memories.
A NEW Way to do Valentine’s Day: GROW in Love
Valentine’s Day can put such pressure on us to be in love and to show it through gifts and grand romantic gestures. But what if, instead, Valentine’s Day could serve as a beautiful, vivid reminder that we have loved, and that we may continue to love? What if it could serve as a tribute to our loss and continued love? What if this Valentine’s Day could be our opportunity to grow in love?
Growing in love means choosing to open our hearts, to receive love when it comes, and to give love freely. It means choosing to become more full of love for everyone we meet, and especially for those who need it most. As we grow in love, we become more at peace, full of joy, and the best part? We feel loved in return. Isn’t life really about growing in love, rather than falling in love, anyway? Falling may be an important start, but growing in love is deeper, more lasting, and crucial to healing and personal growth.
10 Ways to Grow in Love: On Valentine’s Day, and Every Day
Here are 10 ways to get you started growing in love. Pick one, or two, or all, and give them a try. By discovering a new way to do Valentine’s Day you just might discover something of great value: hope, healing, self-worth, and yes, greater love.
- Practice opening your heart. This is a simple, important way to start. If our heart isn’t open, it’s hard to grow in love. Try this: Sit in a quiet place and breathe deeply. Focus on your heart as you continue to breathe. Does it feel open, relaxed, and ready to give and receive love? Or, does it feel closed and guarded? Just notice it, but don’t judge, as you breathe. Think of someone you love dearly. Picture them vividly in your mind. What do you love about them? How do they make you feel? Purposefully open your heart to that love. Continue to breathe as you focus on feeling greater love for them and keeping your heart open. Practice opening your heart for five minutes, and then, continue to open your heart throughout the day. When you feel your heart closing, take a deep breath and open again. It may be difficult at first, but if you practice each day, you will become more open to the gift of love.
- Practice self-love. It’s true we cannot give what we do not possess. If we don’t love ourselves, it’s
very hard to love others and grow in love. Start practicing self-love. Do something kind for yourself today. Nothing too fancy or extravagant, but something that helps you feel self-love. It could be a hot bath, a walk with a friend, a trip to the mall, a movie night, or anything you need. Whatever you’d do to show someone else kindness, do that for yourself today. (More on how to practice self-love here.)
- Serve. It doesn’t matter whom. It doesn’t matter how. Service is healing to the grieving heart, and to us all. Listen to a friend in need, volunteer at a food bank, or visit someone who’s in the hospital. Just serve. In your own way. Your heart will soar in love as a result.
- Do an anonymous act of kindness today. Pay for someone else’s meal, pick up trash in someone’s yard, drop cookies on someone’s doorstep. Look for opportunities to do an act of kindness, and take it.
- Send a card or note to someone who’s lost love recently—on Valentine’s Day, or on any day. Let them know you’re thinking of them and that you remember their loved one, too. When my youngest sister, Miki, died at age 8, her best friend continued to bring my mom flowers every year on Miki’s birthday. We will never forget that act of love. Gestures such as this can mean the world to the grieving, and healing, heart. (More on Helping Others Through Grief & Loss, here)
- Offer to watch someone’s children while they go for an evening out. Help a mother, father, or couple to get time together or an evening out with friends, to give them a break from the job of parenting and refresh them.
- Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. Tell them, “I was just thinking about you and want to hear all about your life.” It’s not only giving love, it’s helping you receive greater friendship and love in return.
- Give a big smile and say “Hello!” to strangers. You never know who needs that smile and acknowledgement. You could make someone’s day or even be a turning point in their life. And, when you put love out, you get so much more in return.
- Receive love. When someone offers you a compliment, a kind word, a loving gesture—say, “Thank you,” and mean it. Don’t push love away. Breathe, and let it in. It will fill and grow you, and you’ll have so much more love to give.
- Hug as many people as you can. I am a hugger. I know the power of a love-filled hug. You’d be surprised how many people are craving for that little bit of love through a hug. Especially those who’ve lost a spouse or partner; give them a hug. Don’t worry about what they will think. If you’re doing it out of genuine love, it will always be well-received. Hug as often as others let you; it will heal you both and help you grow in love.
What are your thoughts on this new way to do Valentine’s Day? What suggestions do you have to help you, and others, grow in love? Leave a comment, below!