By Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner
There I sat, an anxious sixth grader, waiting while Valentine’s Day cards were opened and Sweet Tarts were eaten. As my heart raced, my face flushed, my palms became wet and my eyes were cast to the ground, I wondered why I had not received a Valentine. As if the ego injury of not having anyone who felt I was worth a card or a candy weren’t enough, everyone else would know that I wasn’t worth it!
This pattern of anticipation and disappointment on Valentine’s Day continued throughout my life. What began as hope for cards and candy evolved into hope for romantic candlelight dinners and red roses. Something had to change, and after years of training as a psychologist, I finally figured out it was me! Here are four surefire ways to fight the Valentine’s Day blues from someone who has been there.
Love yourself: If you have ever been on a plane, you have learned an invaluable lesson about love. The stewardess says you must first take the oxygen before you help another with her mask. You must first love yourself in order to love another. Most spiritual teachings, which include those from Western organized religions to Eastern practices, state that you must love another like you would want to be loved.
You can only know how you would want to be loved if you first loved yourself! Bake yourself some cookies, get a pedicure, and put on your favorite outfit. Go a bit deeper by celebrating all of your strengths, accepting your weaknesses, and acknowledging that you are a lovable being. Be your own Valentine!
Others need love, too: Do you think you are the only one who didn’t get a card or date? Guess what: you’re not! Look around and you will find others who feel left out and unloved. You may feel burned by this holiday, but you are not alone and you can still give love to others. If you can help someone feel loved on this day you have not only done a good deed but you have taken back your power.
Validate yourself: Many of us measure our worth by our grades, texts per day, Facebook friend stats, and number of admirers. The number of boyfriends, girlfriends, kisses, cards, and candy don’t measure your worth. The number of pimples and pounds on the scale don’t matter. The true measure of your worth comes from your intangible internal qualities.
Examine your character, ability to love, value to the world, perseverance, struggles and successes. You will not find your value in the mirror and in the eyes of others. You will find it when you allow yourself to make mistakes, when you help another, when you do the right thing when no one is watching, when you experience joy, and when you are at peace.
Employ your power: Leadership requires action. Move to action and take control of the day. On Valentine’s Day, waiting passively for someone to acknowledge you is not leadership. Maybe this means throwing a party, making cards for friends and family, covering yourself in glitter, eating a box of chocolates, painting your face with pink hearts, or sending anonymous love notes. Sitting and waiting for things to happen to you eliminates your power. Take back your strength and make this day your own.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner is a licensed psychologist for Mindwell Psychology, where she specializes in helping adolescent girls. She has regular public speaking, media, radio, and print contributions on psychoeducational topics. Dr.B. is also the creator InsideOut: The Psychology of Dress where she helps clients examine dress as an external expression of the internal self. She facilitates a change on the inside by maximizing the outside. She has a blog on Psychology Today. Contact Dr. B here.