How to Rescue Valentines Day from Perfectionism and Guilt?

7  Dumb-ass reasons why Valentines Day makes me say “Thank You”

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“Well, here comes another Valentine’s Day, the most perplexing..I don’t know what it is exactly. Is it a national holiday? Nope. It’s a “put pressure on your relationship” day.” Joe Doe

I am not a romantic person and I am not a fan of writing about Valentine’s Day. The day makes me feel a little like how an Atheist must feel on Christmas day.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we are all making a fuss over pink hearts and chocolates. I love my wife, more now than ever… more than words can ever begin to describe. It’s just that declaring my love because the calendar tells me to seems artificial.

Can one day of attention make up for 364 other days of neglecting each other? If we treated our bodies, our recovery, our friendships, or our retirement the same way… let’s just say that we would not look or feel very good.

Valentine’s Day feels like a day where if I don’t do something really nice for my wife, then our relationship is in trouble. For the past 20 years, the day has caused me anxiety, guilt and that I no matter what I do or what say I have not done enough.

We put so much focus on one day a year that creates enormous pressure and expectations. Can one day of attention make up for 364 other days of neglecting each other? If we treated our bodies, our recovery, our friendships, or our retirement the same way… let’s just say that we would not look or feel very good. Puffy, hung over and not sure who is going to take care of us when we drool a lot and cannot remember our phone numbers.

It may seem that I am just a Valentines hater or cynical. No, I’m just not a fan of the put-all-of-your-energy-into-one-special-day mentality. It took me a lot of years to figure out that every day should contain a little bit of Valentines Day. It’s not about showering gifts on another person, but about having self-respect and self-compassion. It’s about sharing the love and care that we have for ourselves with the people in our lives.

At the beginning of the article, I quoted Joe Doe. I have known Joe for a few years through my work as an Editor with the Good Men Project. Joe wrote this week about Valentines day and his article got to the heart of what I am feeling:

“I don’t like declaring my undying love for her, because it sounds phony when I say it. I do love her, but it’s not in some Hallmark way–it’s in the “you’ve stood by me even though I gambled away the money we were gifted at our wedding, even though I lost my job when you were pregnant, even though my six pack is long gone and I’ve worked hard to replace it with a beer belly, even though I can’t seem to shake the habit of staring at women half my age…” Joe Doe

7 Dumb reasons why Valentines Day makes me say “Thank You” to the people who have stuck by me

For me, if Valentine’s has any importance it is to remind us to thank the people who have stood by us. I’m talking about the people who have really been there. The people who love us even though we make a mess of things and occasionally relapse into all manner of human dumb-stuckery:

  1. Chronic negativity and complaining
  2. Obsessions and spending too much money
  3. Drinking too much, eating too much, spending too much, obsessing over ourselves
  4. Being insecure and generally ignoring the people we are with every day
  5. Interrupting them and not listening to what they say, or feel
  6. Isolating ourselves, watching too much TV or being on our phones, even when they deserve better
  7. And… when we drool in the wrong places

Over the past 20 years, I have checked the box for all 7. But in spite of how I much have screwed things up, I have so many people who continue to stand by me.

It took me a lot of years to figure out that every day should contain a little bit of Valentines Day… It’s about sharing the love and care that we have for ourselves with the people in our lives.

Today, I am celebrating you… The people in my life who have stood by me. My wife and my kids. My mother and my brother. My boss. And a list of friends longer than I can recite.

Now, you may not have a wife to thank, but I know that there’s someone in your world that deserves to be thanked. Let me repeat: there is someone in your life that deserves a “thank you”. You know it. I know it.” Joe Doe

Today, I want to leave you with a task: Thank someone who deserves it. It could be your spouse or your kids. Or your boss. Or the admin who sits in the cold, open office while you get a nice office with a door that you can close. Or the guy who smiles at you when you buy your pizza or get your gas.

• • •

If you enjoyed this, I invite you to read a related article: Are You on the Fast Track to Unhappiness?

“One four letter word (Envy) can wreak havoc on your mental health, but all that it takes to reverse the effect is eight little letters: Thank You.”

You can sign up for my blog by clicking “Follow Getting High on Recovery.” It won’t cost you anything except a few seconds and in return, I promise I won’t spam you. Also, please vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Peter McConnochie


2 thoughts on “How to Rescue Valentines Day from Perfectionism and Guilt?

  1. Great article. You are right about not ignoring people until it is their birthday, the holidays, or an anniversary let alone Valentine’s Day.

    Like

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