How to survive Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. You’ve noticed. How could you not?

Everywhere you go there are reminders about this day of romance. The radio and tv stations are full of jewelery specials. The grocery stores are packed with flowers and chocolates. And I’m pretty sure Pro-Flowers spent about 80% of their advertising budget on pop-up internet ads this week alone.

This list of miserable reminders does NOT include any stories you’ve had to listen to from your colleagues, family members and friends about their plans for the day. I get it. Valentine’s Day sucks for you. There’s nothing like a national day celebrating romance to remind you JUST how unhappy and alone you feel.

So here’s my advice on how to get through it, whether you’re single (and don’t want to be) or attached (and ridiculously disappointed by the person who “forgot” to bring you chocolates this afternoon). I spent many years in BOTH categories and devised a three-step plan for making it through this day as unscathed as possible. So go ahead and grab a pen and a piece of paper because you are about to do some pretty heavy-duty self-coaching work.

Step One: Face your lizard.

On days like these, when you are at your most emotionally vulnerable, lizards like to attack. Big-time. Blanche used to tell me all sorts of mean things on Valentine’s Day. When I was single, she would tell me that no one was ever going to love me and then point out all of my (according to her) grossly huge imperfections. When I was in a bad relationship (and there have been quite a few), she would try to convince me that my disappointment was unwarranted because I shouldn’t expect much from members of the opposite sex. Whatever Blanche said, it made me feel like shit. I would listen to her for hours, wallowing in misery. Then I learned a strategy. Every time Blanche would say something hurtful, I would write it down. This simple step was the beginning of me learning to detach from Blanche.

Action Step: Divide your piece of paper into two columns. Label the column on the left “Lizard.” Label the column on the right “Truth.” Start listing all of the mean things YOUR lizard is saying to you, right now, under the lizard column.

Step Two: Face the Truth.

Now that you’ve got your Lizard’s List, just go ahead and look at it for a minute. Would you ever say any of these mean and hurtful things to ANYONE you cared about? Of course not. Don’t for a minute think that your lizard is on your side because it is not.

What you are now going to do is to state an opposite and/or positive affirmation (the Truth) for each of your lizard’s nasty comments. For example, if your lizard told you that you were too old to ever find someone to be with (a common diatribe from my dear Blanche), a possible positive affirmation would be: I have enough time to find someone who is right for me. If your lizard is telling you NOT to break up with that loser you’ve been stuck with for years because you’ll end up alone, a possible affirmation would be: When I end an unhealthy relationship, I open up room in my life for a new and better relationship. Get it? I know this all sounds a little corny, a little Jack Handy, but trust me, it works.

Action Step: On the right hand column of your chart, next to EACH lizard blurt, state an opposite and/or positive affirmation (the Truth). Then read each affirmation out loud and feel the truth of it. This will feel very uncomfortable at first. Don’t be surprised if your lizard tries to jump in with some counterargument to your affirmation (remember, this is what lizards do). Just keep stating the affirmation and feeling the truth of each statement (even if it just feels like a little bit of truth at first).

Step Three: Be your own Valentine.

Katherine Woodward Thomas, a very wise woman and brilliant relationship coach, gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: It’s time to cut your losses. It’s time for you to give yourself that which you’ve been waiting for someone else to give to you.

When I first read this, I was in a relationship I had wanted very much to work out. I kept waiting and waiting for this man to see how beautiful and brilliant and special I was. But he just never did. He keep doing thoughtless and hurtful things. Valentine’s Day was the day I came to the devastating conclusion that he just wasn’t the right guy for me. All I had really wanted was some flowers. He didn’t bring me flowers any other day, but I thought for Valentine’s Day he just might. I know it’s cliché, but I LOVE FLOWERS. He never got them for me. In fact, he didn’t bring anything over to the dinner I had spent all day planning and preparing for us. He just showed up, with the disappointing evidence that he wasn’t ever going to appreciate me.

I broke up with him shortly after Valentine’s Day. And then do you know what I did? I bought myself flowers. Every week. And not just any flowers, either. The big, beautiful, organic and colorful bouquets. The bouquets that said-I love you and I adore you and I want you to have the prettiest flowers. At the time I was a teacher and this was a bit of a budget stretch. But those flowers, given TO me BY me, healed my soul in a way that nothing else ever could. Katherine Woodward Thomas is right. Stop waiting for someone else to give you what it is you desire. Give it to yourself.

Action Step: What is it that you would want your Valentine to give to you? Make a list of what it is you desire and then find creative ways to give these things to yourself. Here are some examples from previous clients:

I want unconditional love. (Client went and got herself a puppy.)

I want a dinner at a romantic restaurant. (Client made a reservation at the restaurant and went by herself. She took a magazine with her to read while she ate a great meal.)

I want to feel nurtured. (I’ve had clients do everything from mani/pedis, to sleeping in, to getting massages for this one).

I want great sex. (Even though my client at first insisted she could not give this herself, she later informed me my vibrator recommendations were excellent).

You don’t have to hide under a rock today. You don’t have to stay in bed, eating bon-bons, watching Lifetime movies and feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, it IS Valentine’s Day and most people think of it as a holiday for couples. But really, Valentine’s Day is about love. So I would advice you, dear reader, to use my three-step plan and make this day about love. Love for the person who will ALWAYS be with you, the person who will be with you through thick and thin, no matter what, for the rest of your life: YOU.


~ by projectlifedesign on February 14, 2010.

One Response to “How to survive Valentine’s Day”

  1. This is great! I have been in relationships with men that I thought would be there through thick or thin with me, but that just hasn’t been the case (yet). But you are correct-I am always with me, trying to make my life better. Happy Valentine’s Day to ME!

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