Valentine’s Day is an inherently couple-centric celebration, and it can leave a lot of people feeling left out and lonely. Although there are days like Siblings’ Day or Grandparents’ Day each year, these often pass unnoticed, and certainly without the fanfare of February 14th. We love the idea of using the month of February to let your nearest and dearest know that you love them. Saying “I love you” to friends and family members is not a terribly British thing to do but it’s important that we should take the time to let people know how we feel about them. If saying the words is not for you, you can show your love in other ways: call your mum for a chat, just because. Offer to help your sister out with something, or send a gift to a friend.
As well as love for others, there’s love for nature or for our pets which is again often overlooked. For many of us our pets are the faithful companions that have seen us through many a lonely evening or lifted our spirits when we were feeling down. Why not take February as an opportunity to really appreciate your pet and spend some quality time with them - preferably out in nature!
The one kind of love that is probably the most important and least acknowledged is love for ourselves. We might remark that a person “loves herself” as a sort of insult; they’re too big for their boots. But really, shouldn’t we all love ourselves? You are the only person you have to spend all of your time with; shouldn’t you love you? Your relationship with yourself is the most important one you have, and our busy modern lifestyles mean this is often the most overlooked relationship too.
These days there are entire industries that depend on our self loathing: they tell us we’re too fat or too thin; our breasts are too small or too big; our hair is the wrong shade; our eyebrows are too thick or too thin. We’re too pushy, or we’re too quiet. A quick look at the coverage of Lady Gaga at the Superbowl in the US last weekend illustrates this perfectly: here’s a woman with probably about 10% body fat - arguably unhealthily thin. But the internet immediately jumped on the idea that she may have had a “fat roll” when performing. In reality, she was wearing tight clothing to avoid a wardrobe malfunction while performing on live TV to the entire world!
Of course it’s good to look good, but if we allow ourselves to get caught up in all of this it is very easy to become deeply unhappy with ourselves, and that sort of feeling affects all of our relationships in the outside world. The only way around this is to learn to love ourselves just as we are. It’s a revolutionary concept, especially for those of us who are still thinking “yes, but I just need to lose a few more pounds first…” but life is too short to waste on self loathing, don’t you think? This song from India Arie has the most wonderful lyrics about self love; it’s something we all need to work on so why not choose this month as a time to really work on loving and accepting yourself just as you are? Now is the time to be kind to yourself, and to treat yourself with love and compassion. Life is too short not to love yourself!
Another form of love to celebrate and cherish this month is the concept of universal love and compassion. So many arguments, large and small, are caused by our reactions to how another person behaves towards us. Someone insults us, and we lash out; it’s a perfectly natural response, but arguing gets us nowhere. In this time of great unrest across the globe, let’s all resolve to react with love and compassion towards each other.
What does that actually mean, though? A typical example might be that one person in the office who always picks on your outfit. Your usual response might be either to snap at her or to mutter under your breath, spending the next hour or so constructing the conversation you would like to have; all the things you would like to say to her. Instead, try to react to it from a place of love. Often when people pick holes in another person it’s because of their own insecurities. This person might feel the need to find fault in what you are wearing so that they feel better about their own clothing. We’ve all done this; it’s encouraged by those magazines that point out celebrities’ beer bellies and love handles. When someone makes a hurtful comment about you, instead of reacting negatively try to think to yourself, “this person is clearly feeling insecure in some way; I send them love.” You don’t need to say anything to them; just don’t let it poison your day.
Learning to react with love is a really useful skill that can help us with our own self love. If we can avoid allowing another person’s perception of us to affect how we feel, we’ll be more inclined to treat ourselves with love and compassion.
February is the month of love, but there are many different kinds of love; it’s not just about romance! However you decide to celebrate love this month, we hope you end the month feeling more love than before.