I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who said, "It’s Valentine’s Day this week, I can’t wait!" In fact, this completely made up holiday is one of the most dreaded days of the year for most people.
It’s one of those bait and switch deals.
The theme of the day is LOVE which, let’s face it, is arguably the greatest thing there is. AND it’s something that is innately inside every one of us. AND giving and receiving love is a deeply rooted part of our nature.
One would think that, on a day dedicated to celebrating love, the energy of the entire world would skyrocket – that everyone would be walking around smiling big, twinkly-eyed smiles at each other with that Avatar "I SEE YOU" kind of vibe.
Instead, Valentine’s Day is laden with obligations and expectations for some, self-loathing and disappointment for others, and for everyone else - that icky hollow feeling that comes when you realize that chocolate actually isn’t love.
Don’t get me wrong, I like celebrating Valentine’s Day. (To be honest, I like celebrating most things.) And I’m headed to the Post Office as soon as I finish this post to send a little heart-themed care package to my son at college.
What I don’t like is how often this holiday fosters disconnection.
"What did you get for Valentine’s Day?"
"What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?"
"How many 2x3 inch Snoopy Valentines were in your decorated mail(shoe)-box???"
For most of my life, whatever answer I had to those questions either felt shallow or desperate depending on the year.
And the thing is, neither those questions nor their answers have absolutely anything to do with love.
So, I’d like to propose something different this year.
A Valentine’s INCLUSION Revolution….
Let’s Spread the LOVE
First, a note about cards, flowers, treats and trappings…
No judgement here.
I love giving gifts, sending little love notes, or preparing a special meal. These things can all be part of spreading the love – if you LOVE doing them and follow the steps below.
The INCLUSION Revolution:
Yeah, yeah, I hear you…"easier said than done," but believe me, you can make some pretty quick progress here.
● Start by standing with your arms loosely by your side. Take a deep inhale that travels from your heels up the back of your body, straightening your spine as it deepens. As you exhale let that breath travel down the front of your body allowing gravity to melt your muscles into their natural resting place. Repeat 3-5 times.
(Exercise adapted from Wendy Palmer’s Leadership Embodiment.)
● Now that you’re a bit more grounded, imagine you are sitting in a beautiful theater and the first trailer you see is promoting a film about you - your life.
The highlight reel hits on some of the 100% real high and low points of your life and watching it, you can feel yourself and the audience relating to the character on the screen.
We feel your pain, we laugh with you at those ridiculous moments, we’re relieved when you skate through a rough patch. When you win, we’re overjoyed.
We’re in love with the protagonist – with you.
Practice this little visualization when you wake up each morning and just before bed this week. Go ahead and have fun with it – feel the love.
See how big you can make this one. Can you include the people you live with? Work with? You’re entire family of origin? The guy you just passed on the street? The rabid Facebook poster that seems to stand for everything you don’t?
● Let go of judgement. Just like you did in the theater exercise above, try to see each person as the protagonist in their own story - struggling to love themselves, to conquer their fears, to be loved and to belong. No matter what it looks like on the outside, each of us is doing our very best to lead a life that is good, worthy and meaningful.
● Give without expectation. Whether you’re passing out twinkly-eyed smiles, Snoopy cards or chocolates, do it because you want to. Do it for the sheer joy of it. Forget all those BS rules that say your value is based on how other people treat you. Real value is based on how you treat others (and how you treat yourself).
That’s all you need to do. If we all manage to love ourselves and others (even a tiny bit more than usual) this week, with less judgement or expectation, then the INCLUSION Revolution will have begun!
Big, BIG LOVE to all of you, thank you for being part of my world!
Happy Valentine’s Day,