"love the word"Seven Ways to Have the Best Valentine’s Day Ever (Heart-Shaped Candy Boxes Not Required!) By Susan Apollon

Feeling cynical or depressed about Valentine’s Day? Don’t, says intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon. Instead, use it as an opportunity to explore the meaning of pure love…and create a life of peace and joy.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and if you listen closely you’ll hear America heave a collective sigh of resignation (from the couples who must run out and buy obligatory gifts) and gloom (from the singles who feel like hiding sulkily under the covers). Yes, many people dread this seemingly benign holiday more than a trip to the dentist. But intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon says not to look at Valentine’s Day as an occasion for enforced “romance” or mourning for your dormant love life. Instead, think of it as a day to celebrate the existence of love itself—pure, authentic, unconditional love—and all the rich rewards it brings.

“Love really isn’t about hearts and flowers and grand romantic gestures,” says Apollon, author of Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope. “It isn’t about who got who the best gift, or who has a partner and who doesn’t. Love is a way of living. And Valentine’s Day can be more than a reminder that someone loves you; it can serve as an affirmation that you are totally lovable, loving, adored, and special all year long.”

In other words, let Valentine’s Day be a day in which you focus wholeheartedly on your ability to give and receive love. You don’t need to have a spouse or romantic partner in order to do this. You can love your coworkers, your neighbors, your pets, the clerk at the grocery store—anyone and everyone—but especially yourself.

Keep reading to learn how to rev up your love quotient this Valentine’s Day:

Commit to Unconditional Love: To You, From You. It may be a cliché but it is very, very true: until you love yourself you can’t fully love another person. And too many of us beat ourselves up for not being thin enough or pretty enough or smart enough—and worse, we may even use the fact that we are romantically unattached (or in a bad relationship) to validate that low opinion. This is tragic, says Apollon. Whether single or involved, it is vital that you truly understand the value of loving yourself unconditionally. Self-love is the key to achieving all other love and finding happiness in its many forms.

“There must be no conditions for loving yourself,” insists Apollon. “Being lovable and capable of loving is never about having a great body, a high-profile job, or tons of money. There are no strings attached to your adoring your whole self: body, mind, and spirit. There is only the need for you to view yourself as the exquisite miracle you really are. Allow Valentine’s Day to be a reminder of who you are. Love yourself first, because you are your most significant other.”

Get High This Valentine’s Day—High Energy, That is! If you’re wondering what love really is, Apollon says, it’s energy. Everything is energy, in fact, and love is one of the highest energies. So, when you choose to become your own priority and love yourself unconditionally, you will vibrate at an astoundingly higher energy level. The result is that you feel wonderful and life becomes a delicious adventure. Your love for yourself enables you to walk with your head held high and your heart full and healed. You’ll feel grounded, centered, and stable—and these good feelings will affect those around you.

If you’re wondering how to reach that high level of energy, Apollon says the answer is simple: do things that feel good. You might buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers, for instance, or a nice pair of silk pajamas, or a day at the spa. Or place notes all around you that remind you of how loving and special you are…that you are a Beautiful Soul…and that you are loved. It may seem silly, but it works.

Breathe in Love—Not Just on Valentine’s Day, But Every Day. Apollon suggests that each morning and evening you take a few moments to focus on your breathing in and out—long, deep, relaxing breaths—with the intention of helping you shift to a higher energy. Visualize yourself breathing in loving energy from the Universe. See this flowing into every cell and feel the warm, loving impact.

“Picture the Universe, your own Soul, Higher Wisdom, God, or your angels being present for you and feel their embrace—the embrace of love,” she says. “Sit with this and really feel the amazing warm, healing energy of this embrace. It is so powerful!”

Affirm and Visualize Love. Imagine that you are a half-inflated balloon. Most of us live our day-to-day lives in this love-less state of under-inflation. Now envision your soul filling up with love. Affirm your worth several times a day by stating silently or out loud: I am love, I am lovable, and I am loving. Your love for yourself enables you to feel the powerful energy of love even in your cells. As you make your affirmations, visualize these feelings of love permeating every cell of your being. You are love, and you deserve the joy of giving and receiving pure love.

Incorporate Your Own Strengths into Your Affirmations. You are a unique creation worthy of universal energy and love. Everyone is blessed with different attributes and a great way to fill yourself up with self-love is to remind yourself of all your fabulous qualities. Practice affirmations about your own uniqueness that makes you worth loving. A few examples are: I am passionate, I am a great mother, I am ready to be loved, I give fabulous advice, and I am full of creativity.

Face, Embrace, and Replace Grief…and Practice Forgiveness. The energy of love does not mesh comfortably with the energy of anger, pain, guilt, and unresolved conflicts or issues, says Apollon. Therefore, you must release any old grievances in order to vibrate on a higher energetic plane. Valentine’s Day should bring for you a reminder that we are all here for love and that love begins first with forgiveness of yourself and others who have in the past treated you poorly. Face your negative energy and acknowledge it. When you are ready, replace old grief with love and just savor the vast difference this shift makes in your life!

If you need a mantra to help you release the pain that holds you down, Apollon suggests you say to yourself: I love myself enough to let you go now. I choose to detach from carrying you around with me, weighing me down and disabling me from moving on and having a good life. I forgive you and I forgive me. I am truly sorry but I must let you go. I surrender you to the Universe. I choose to be free of any attachments that keep me from experiencing the peace and joy to which I am entitled.

Release Your Attachment to Your Vision of Prince or Princess Charming. If you spend Valentine’s Day hoping for an engagement ring, seething with resentment that your partner forgot that you prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, or daydreaming about that knight in shining armor who will sweep you away from your dreary life, you’re missing the whole point of love. Your attachments to an ideal only set you up for a fall when perfection fails to materialize. Remember, says Apollon, that real love (for yourself or others) doesn’t come with conditions. When you love unconditionally, you don’t need anything in return.

“We feel happy, we are lighter and unburdened when we release our expectations,” asserts Apollon. “Don’t spend Valentine’s Day hoping for roses, romance, or a note from a secret admirer. And married folks and those with partners need to realize that the person you love is not responsible for meeting your checklist of expectations for happiness. Instead put your focus on sending loving energy to everyone you know this day and every day. It will clear the metaphorical haze around you, so to speak and for the first time you will see and feel all the love you need.”

“Too many people use the fairy tale illusion of living happily-ever-after to define their inner worth,” says Apollon. “Know that true happiness can’t come to you in its many forms until you are able to accept it. Love is all around you and will manifest when you finally learn to let it permeate your spirit, by loving yourself and exuding love to everyone you know. Remember that love is what connects and sustains us all and gives life meaning. Living lovingly feels so good, and when you make the choice to do this, each day can feel like the best Valentine’s Day ever.”

About the Author: As a psychologist and an author, Susan Apollon empowers and heals the body, mind, and soul; as an educator, she informs; as a speaker, she inspires and touches the heart. For more than twenty-five years, Susan has been in private practice in Yardley, PA, evaluating and counseling adults, families, and children who are dealing with difficult life situations similar to what she has personally experienced, researched, and written about, including cancer, other health issues, trauma, and grief.

She is the author of Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope; Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul; and Intuition Is Easy and Fun: The Art and Practice of Developing Your Natural-Born Gift of Intuition (co-authored with Yanni Maniates) For more information, please visit www.HealingStoriesOfLoveLossAndHope.com or www.TouchedByTheExtraordinary.com .