Tags: Am I too sensitive?, comparison, Imagination hangovers, inner critic, Valentine's Day

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When we use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to judge ourselves harshly, it's time to ask, where is the self-love?

Certain times of year prompt anxiety, comparison, and sadness in us. Each year many singles, as well as people who are in toxic relationships or who are at the very least feeling emotionally undernourished whether they’re single or not, spend a few months sliding from one Hallmark angst to another.

If you’ve been dreading Valentine’s Day and imagining that the whole world is paired up or living a better life than you, or that it’s only losers or people of a certain age, appearance, background, etc., that don’t have someone to send them a Valentine’s card or who are in an unhealthy relationship, this is a good time to check in with you.

It’s time to evaluate where your thoughts have been for the past 10-12 weeks or so.

From around mid-November until Valentine’s day, it’s as if we’re living in a fog where the media, TV commercials, merchandising stands, email newsletters, some insensitive comments and actions from well-meaning (and not so-well-meaning) people in our circles, as well as our own overactive imaginations and inner critics, take us on 12 Weeks of Self-Esteem Torment.

Not only do some of us damn near cripple what little self-esteem we have during this time by using this period to benchmark how ‘successful’ we are by comparing us to the imagery that we’re sold, but we also use this period as a series of triggers to re-engage in situations and with people, that wind up bringing more pain into our lives and eventually leave us with a Regret Hangover.

We slide from having Thanksgiving/Christmas/The Holidays anxieties and dramas, to then possibly feeling regretful by mid-December that we haven’t lived up to the picture in our head. From there we might slide to then either doing something in haste just before the new year and so starting January feeling deflated, or entering January with strong resolve and then backtracking and feeling regretful. From there, it’s thinking about what we want to be different this year while possibly stressing about whether we can make it a reality. And then suddenly, we realise that the shops are filling up with V-Day-related stuff.

We feel down all over again as we dread Yet Another ‘Imperfect’ V-Day where we’re not being, doing and feeling what we imagine we ‘should’ be on that day.

We might get to Valentine’s Day and attempt to salvage a struggling relationship or give ourselves such a hard time that we reach out to an ex. Or, perhaps we do something like ‘collecting attention’ on a dating site. Valentine’s Day will come to an end, there might be a Regret Hangover, and then the fog clears. It’s like, Jaysus! Have I been smoking crack for the past few months or something? We step off the commercial and yes, ego and insecurity-driven treadmill, and we suddenly don’t have a Hallmark occasion to serve as a distraction from taking action and being present in our own lives.

It’s just the 14th of February, and for a lot of businesses, it’s a key sales and marketing ‘event’ in the calendar. Hell, I’m already getting emails about Mother’s Day, Easter, and I’m sure I saw something about Father’s Day too. Ugh. The kids think Easter’s happening any day now because Easter eggs have been in the store aisles for weeks. We only just got over Christmas! They have no clue about Valentine’s and I intend to try and keep it that way for as long as possible!

All those V-Day adverts and articles are there to feed into our insecurities and remind us how important romantic love is. This then acts as a cue for us to spend money (or spend up our self-esteem).

I’m not into Valentine’s day, and I’m not saying this from what some would view as the ‘luxury’ of a relationship. Even as a child I found the whole thing more than a tad bemusing. Lots of people write cards to themselves so as not to feel left out and some showing off. I’ve had one secret card in 36 years–Isn’t that what it’s all supposed to be about?) And I must admit that in all of the reasons why I didn’t like myself, how many cards I never got didn’t feature in there. Valentine’s is also the anniversary of the Time I Accepted a Proposal (because I believed that when a man asks that you should say yes) and Then Contemplated Doing a Bunk Out of the Bathroom Window of the Restaurant.

I’m not suggesting that Valentine’s (or other occasions) are ‘bad’ and there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying them, but if they matter so much to our sense of self, how the hell can we enjoy them?

At some point, we have to say enough to this BS, whether it’s buying into the hype or using these weeks as a basis for attacking our self-esteem. Enough.

Is it really fair, to use Thanksgiving, The Holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s, the changing of the month, the changing of the year, and the list goes on, as the basis of our self-esteem?

The problem we have to address is the way that we allow external factors to have excessive undue influence on us. And we get to decide on that. Change the meaning, change the feeling. Don’t let mid-November to mid-February turn you into somebody that you don’t recognise or like. The less you use the likes of Valentine’s Day as conditions for how much you will like and love you, the more that you will see yourself as a whole instead of homing in on ‘flaws’. You will be more certain that you’re opting into situations from a place of healthiness as opposed to trying to escape you or have someone fill you up.

Take care of you. Love you.

Big squeezy hugs, Nat xxx

Your thoughts?

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