by Audrey Morrison | Hasu eCounselling™
It happens every year. Valentine’s Day comes around and what do we do? We beat ourselves up with the ‘not good enough’ story. We allow our minds to let those negative thoughts hook us and take us down a dark path. Our thoughts say horrible things to us and we start to believe them. Western society, the media and greeting card companies put a very heavy emphasis on couples around Valentine’s Day.
Wikipedia attempts to provide us with the link from Valentinus (circa 273 AD) to today’s western world version of Valentine’s Day but it’s a hard sell.
What happens when you don’t fit into that couple mold? If you’re beating yourself up with your own version of the ‘not good enough’ story, what can you do?
At this point, I am tempted to make a reference to a Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley (circa 1991) but I’m afraid that would only serve to date me. The underlying message is to watch your self-talk. That’s the soundtrack we all have playing in our heads. If it’s really negative, it can come up with all sorts of horrible things to say and we start to believe it. You can choose to turn down the volume and replace those negative thoughts with positive things. It can be hard work, managing your self-talk but it is totally worth it. There are always two ways to look at a situation and should you choose to find a positive, it will alter your mood.
Think of yourself at a fork in the road. On one side, it’s storming and raining down lots of negative messages, screaming that ‘not good enough’ story. The other side of the fork has sunshine and a clear view of the person you want to be. If you are going to choose the more popular, more pleasant path, you will need to learn to unhook yourself from all of your negative thinking.
Take a moment to take a mental note of five things you can see right now, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Now, take a good deep breath, exhale slowly. This little exercise takes a little over a minute but can help to ground you so you can unhook from those negative thoughts.
Finally, be kind to yourself. The best advice I was ever given was to buy myself an inexpensive bouquet of flowers once a week. I chose Wednesdays and put a repeating reminder on my calendar. It brightens up my week and helps me look forward to Wednesday. Think about how you can be kind to yourself. We’re experts at being our own worst critic so being kind takes some practice.
Remember, Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar. It really isn’t worth all that angst.
If you try the above on a consistent basis and you’re still finding it hard to climb out of the abyss, you might want to speak with a therapist. Sometimes, an objective listener is just what is needed.
About the author:
Audrey Morrison, MSW, RSW is a school social worker and an online therapist with Hasu eCounselling™. She lives in Markdale, Ontario.