(and Start with Yourself!)
If you aren’t in a relationship, you may be dreading couples-centric Valentine’s Day.
If you aren’t currently in a relationship—and especially if you’ve recently ended one—you might not be looking forward to Valentine’s Day. The lovey-dovey cards, heart-shaped candy boxes, sappy commercials, and made-for-TV movies can all feel like too much. (And let’s not forget about the unofficial my-partner-is-better-than-
Avalon Brandt, who is happily divorced, understands how difficult it can be to spend Valentine’s Day without the one you love—and she has some advice to help you survive the next few weeks without strangling Cupid.
“Our culture has made Valentine’s Day couples-centric, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Avalon, author of Still I Love: Loving after Three Divorces .“I use this time to consciously reset how I feel about love in general, and myself in particular. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that if we don’t know, respect, and appreciate ourselves, it’s unlikely that anyone else will, and we’ll continue to attract unfulfilling, dysfunctional relationships.”
In Still I Love, Avalon tells the compelling story of her three marriages and divorces, which she navigated on the long road to earning her degree as an attorney. While Avalon’s story reads like a movie script, it’s interwoven with heartfelt observations and advice that will speak to anyone who has dealt with a broken heart and divorce. And most importantly, Avalon’s continuing belief in love—romantic and otherwise—will provide hope and healing.
Here, she shares 12 ways to show love to yourself—which is the first step toward attracting the relationships you need.
Identify all the things you love about yourself. Maybe you can’t stop replaying insults from your ex. Perhaps you constantly hear your mother’s critical voice in your head. It’s possible you dislike certain things you see when you look in the mirror. Wherever they come from, it’s so easy to listen only to these negative voices.
Strengthen your existing relationships by celebrating other people you love. Make a mental list of the people who enhance your life: family, friends, mentors, colleagues, etc. Consider reaching out and making plans with some of them, or writing a “thank you for being in my life” email.
“De-friend” and distance yourself from people who are bringing you down. It’s amazing how far others can drag us down without our consciously realizing it. Especially at a time of year when you’re already feeling vulnerable, take a fresh look at your friend list and back away from people who act in a way that makes you feel worse about yourself.
Forgive your ex—and yourself. Even though your relationship is over, you may still be angry at your ex—and chances are, it feels good! Perhaps you’re savoring the fact that you have the moral high ground. Or, you might think, it’s better to be angry than to be depressed. Certainly, says Avalon, allow yourself to process your anger and resentment—but eventually, try to let go of those negative emotions. You may find it helpful to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re condoning your ex’s bad behavior. Rather, it means that you’re choosing to let go of resentment, blame, and anger.
Re-evaluate your daily life. Try to look at your daily routine through fresh eyes. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? What energizes you and what drags you down? What can you change to make yourself happier and feel better?
Plan a fun evening out (no chocolate and roses necessary). Odds are, you know other people who might also be sad or resentful that they’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day. Reach out to them and make arrangements to meet for drinks, go ice skating, or enjoy a potluck meal, for instance.
Give yourself a break. Be a rebel. Take a look at your to-do list and cross something off of it even though you haven’t actually completed that task. (Gasp!) Then do something nourishing instead.
Challenge yourself to be the voice of dissent. Anytime we go along with the crowd or keep our mouths shut instead of saying what’s really on our minds, we feel disingenuous, and our self-esteem takes a hit. Saying what we really feel and being true to our opinions is a courageous act of self-love.
Take yourself out on a date. Of course you would like to be going on a date with a romantic partner who likes, respects, and values you. Avalon freely admits that even though she has found happiness after divorce, she still hopes to find love again. But, she says, your desires for the future shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your life now.
Affirm a bright future. To help yourself stay focused on loving yourself, find a personal mantra and remind yourself of it frequently. Your mantra might have to do with moving on, finding someone new, or personal development. Don’t discount the power of the words you tell yourself. Positive or negative, they are powerful tools in focusing your intentions and shaping your attitude.
Clarify your vision of Mr. or Ms. Right. Is it possible that your past romances have failed because you’re looking for the wrong type of person? Are you hoping to find someone who mirrors your favorite movie character or someone who will solve all your problems? Do you tend to overlook flaws and incompatibilities when the other person is funny or flattering?
Remind yourself that February 15th will be here soon. No matter how much you focus on showing yourself love and boosting your mood, you may still feel the “Singles’ Awareness Day” blues—and that’s okay! It’s normal and natural for a holiday focused on romance to bring up feelings of sadness. When this happens, Avalon advises you to remember that February 15th will come.
“Even after experiencing infidelity and divorce, love is still the center of my existence on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year,” Avalon concludes. “My number-one goal and priority is to value, honor, and love myself. I affirm this intention by looking into the mirror each morning and saying with a smile, ‘I love you.’ Then, I show myself love through actions big and small, such as the ones I’ve shared here. I encourage you to do the same!”
Avalon Sequoia Brandt, Esq., is the author of Still I Love: Loving after Three Divorces. She is a successful attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, who for 13 years has practiced complex civil litigation. From 1994 through 2001 she worked as a family law attorney in her firm, Wilson & Brandt, P.A.