Tips for a wonderful Valentine’s Day

Some people adore Valentine’s Day and look forward to it eagerly. Others of us are less keen on the day itself. I count myself amongst the latter group. After all love and appreciation for a partner as well as the other significant people in our lives is something we should be sharing with them across the whole year!

However, Valentine’s Day has become part of our culture so perhaps we can spend it this year demonstrating our appreciation and also thinking about little things we can do across the year to make all our relationships stronger.

For me, it’s all about the power of ‘micro-moments’ – the ability to change our life in any moment and then to use these tiny manageable interventions to gain positive momentum. You can find more of these in my ‘Meee in a Minute’ books.

Lose the phone!
Sharing a special meal is a big part of Valentine’s Day but too many of us bring our mobile phones to the table and check emails and scroll through our social media feeds instead of being fully present with our partner.

An Italian restaurant, Mamma Mia’s in Abingdon, USA, wants to ban technology during mealtimes and the owner has customised his tables with inspirational quotes jokes and poems to help spark conversation. As we will not being going out this year perhaps this is something to do at home.

Take a minute to thing about the last time you sat down and shared a meal with your beloved. Were you on the phone? Was your partner on the phone? If so try to change on Valentine’s Day and for the rest of the week. It may seem odd at first but stick with it.

The lovers’ statue at St Pancreas / Kings’ Cross station

Appreciate yourself
From the day we are born the one relationship that is constant is the relationship we have with ourselves. It is important that this is an accepting relationship. If we constantly criticise ourselves, which some people do, the critical attitude can spill over into our relationships with others.

Take a minute to look at yourself with a kind eye. What do you like and appreciate about yourself? I’m sure you can come up with three things. You can also ask your partner what he or she loves about you. Valentine’s Day is a day for kindness so tell you partner what you love about them too.

What if you aren’t in a relationship right now? The same lesson about appreciating yourself applies! Let yourself know what you appreciate about yourself and perhaps you can exchange appreciation with a good friend as well.

Unconditional positive regard

The great family therapist Virginia Satir said:

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open and rules are flexible — the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.“ – Virginia Satir

Our individual and family development is supported and facilitated when we learn to value each other even when we know each other’s failings. When we are free to confess our worst fears or share our emotions, safe in the knowledge that we are still loved and accepted, we thrive.

Take a minute to consider your relationship with our partner and other family relationships. Do you feel supported and loved no matter what? Or do you feel that acceptance is dependent on your behaviour or whether you follow the rules? Focus on the things you love and appreciate about the other person and make sure they know you have their back. Unconditional positive regard can be assisted by really listening to each other without judgement or blame.

Laughing together
Over our lifetime we have many different experiences. We absorb these experiences and some will lead us to develop unconscious attitudes and beliefs that shape how we behave, what we say and what we do. Something in our environment, perhaps something someone says to us can trigger a response such as anger that we can’t explain. Of course, we can also find things funny in a way we can’t explain either! Our environment is full of hidden triggers that shape everything we say and do.

Rather than getting upset, aim to recognise what is happening if you are triggered in a negative way. If possible turn it around into something more positive. If you can find something to laugh about you are well on the way to taking control of the triggering situation.

Take a minute to reflect on when and how you get triggered. Essentially you need to give yourself feedback, ask yourself active questions and notice patterns. Where triggers lead to unhelpful behaviour particularly it is good to gain an awareness so that we can take more control over ourselves and our responses. Based on the information and understanding we gather we can start to change our behaviours and improve our relationships with others.

Add to the fun
Even on Valentine’s Day there will be chores to do. How can you make these more fun? I like to play favourite music. Could you create a special Valentine’s playlist that you can enjoy while you do the washing up, vacuuming and doing other chores together? It could make these more fun on the other 364 days of the year as well!

Overall I believe that for love and appreciation to thrive we need to build our optimism. If we are open to the special people in our lives and hopeful about the long-term future (despite the current difficulties) we can maximise the positive in our relationships and our lives.

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