Listen, I have spent plenty of Valentine's Day lonely, sad, envious, and resentful. Those are all feelings that are wildly uncomfortably for me, but hold important information when I can become curious enough to explore those feelings. Valentine's Day became a nuisance, and I easily fed into the "it's just a Hallmark holiday." Until I made a 2 degree shift. Basically, the two degree shift is a tiny life change or perspective that brings you greater joy. While I have absolutely spent too much money on chocolates, gummy bears and pink striped socks, my two degree shift came when I decided just to celebrate the concept of telling special people in my world how much I cared for them and appreciated them. When I could shift from resentment, into a giving spirit of love.
In therapy terms, this can be called positive reappraisal. Positive reappraisal is basically shifting into a more optimistic perspective, while still understanding painful feelings. Positive reappraisal could look like taking "Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday, and I am left alone again this year" into, "It's ok to feel lonely. I love watching other people experience loving feelings, and I can find empathy for me and joy for them." Boom. Positively reappraised. When we positive reappraise painful events, we actually experience greater happiness, and can even reduce symptoms of physical stress. We take a seemingly negative event or circumstance and assign meaning to it.
Ways to practice positive reappraisal:
When a negative event occurs, simply pause and ask yourself these questions.
- Can I find a "silver lining" in the issue?
- What is something that can be learned from these circumstances?
- Am I able to develop as a person through this event?
- Can I connect to someone who has been through something similar?
Remember, being able to experience a painful emotion AND positive reappraising the event leads to better overall emotional health. This is a trait that is learned, and will not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself, and happy Valentine's Day.