Valentine’s Day is the celebration of love stories, and in today’s day and age, many people take to their “stories” on social media. February 14th is a holiday where countless singles (and unsatisfied couples) scroll through looking at pictures of romance, walk down the street seeing people with flowers, the shops flooded with heart-shaped chocolates and stuffed animals… all reminding them of what is “missing” in their lives, where they “went wrong,” and subconsciously comparing their situations. As a common coping mechanism, these unhappy individuals may find ways to judge and find fault with those who seem fulfilled and lash out over things that ordinarily wouldn’t bother them as much. Some individuals may take a different path by bottling up or dismissing their true feelings of loneliness. They might say they are content for other people, but they don’t genuinely feel it. In short: Cupid feels stupid. Although there is validity and richness in being single, this article is for those who are in a situation where they don’t feel total fortune in their current circumstances.
If you identify with Cupid feeling silly this holiday season, you may want to avoid deflecting or denying your feelings. A healthier approach to coping is to allow yourself to feel your emotions, recognize and be honest with them, and perhaps seek CBT treatment where the cognitive model can help you reframe your thoughts. Doing so may affect your feelings about your current—and most likely temporary—situation given a new lens. The funny clinical truth is that often those who are non-envious of others when they don’t have their ideal love are closer to having it than those who remain jealous. This is because people enjoy partnering with more positive people. Here are four things you can do on Valentine’s Day to increase your joy and bring yourself closer to not being alone the next one.
- Do something for someone else! Volunteer or do work that helps others (even if it isn’t what you do for a living). Studies have shown that making others feel good makes people happier than doing something for oneself. As humans, we have an intrinsic need to feel needed. Helping others satiates this and increases serotonin levels, self efficacy, and ultimately one’s confidence.
- Celebrate someone else’s love story genuinely! Exercise “compersion”. Compersion is thought of as the opposite of jealousy—genuine empathetic joy we feel for others when they’re feeling positive. Write a Valentine’s Day card to a couple that inspires you. For example, your grandparents or your best friends. Manifest the kind of love you want by identifying in words what you admire most about a love that isn’t yours… yet! Practice mindfulness and radical acceptance of your current situation detached from those around you. Studies show that ten percent of our brain is used comparing ourselves to others (i.e., social comparison theory)…. Let’s challenge ourselves to use the remaining 90% to do the following: (a) bring the narrative back to comparing yourself to your past self and (b) observe what’s happening around you free of judgment or attachment.
- Set a goal! Setting goals, including small ones, decreases anxiety and depression. Start small and allow yourself the series of the seemingly mini victories— they add up, but mostly do a great deal for mental health. And if you’ve recently done the work on yourself and don’t understand what opportunities aren’t there immediately, don’t be so surprised when they come knocking on your door. The plateau of latent potential suggests that there’s usually a lag time between what you think should happen and what actually happens. Progress isn’t linear because results to one’s work put in is often delayed, especially when healthily done. It isn’t until months or years later when one gets what they’ve worked so hard for. You are strong, so keep reaching towards new goals and accepting this reality of healthy gratification often being delayed.
- Romance yourself! At the end of the day, you’re the person you’ll be with the longest. Write a letter to yourself about why you’d date you, book a faux honeymoon for yourself to look forward to this summer, take yourself out on a date or send yourself flowers. Most people treat you and see you how you see and treat yourself. Set the tone for what’s to come. You never know where it may lead.
To conclude, being single can be a wonderful experience, but with the human tendency to compare where we are at to the paths of others, many are left feeling authentically disappointed on days such as Valentine’s Day. This is a valid feeling, but can become quite unhealthy when it turns into judging others and oneself. Turning within to reset your goals, romance yourself, and to shift your mindset to a positive one, allows individuals to not only sit at peace with the happiness and journeys of others, but ultimately themselves. Everyone’s story looks different, and every chapter serves its purpose. Your pages will turn.
To learn more about how to make the changes you need to feel more joy and acceptance of where you are now please email me or call 917.476.9381.