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Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been a romantic celebration. It was initially founded to honor various martyred saints named Valentine, starting with Valentine of Rome, in the 3rd century, who was persecuted for helping Christians.[1] Since then, this special occasion has been delegated to romantic love. And to such an extent, we’ve lost sight of the authenticity of this feeling and all that it represents.

If Valentine’s Day were simply a day to love, how different might our individual and collective worlds become? But we don’t have to be guided by dates or events on the calendar. Instead, it can be a day to share love in all its forms.

Most of us associate love with a feeling, but love is an action word. So here are some acts of love that bring forth the feelings we’ve sought – often in all the wrong places.

Love in the form of appreciation.It’s so easy to take things for granted. We get so used to our surroundings and become so bogged down in negative thoughts that we fail to appreciate all the surrounding gifts. Even the fresh air, plants, weather, and a roof over our heads, are something to enjoy. We’ve been told to take time to smell the roses, but many of us never even notice the rose garden at all. We don’t see anything because we’re watching an internal movie screen that is full of thorns, without the roses. We tend to treat people the same way. We are disappointed if they aren’t in full bloom and meeting our expectations. Or we’re too busy to stop and take in the experience of sharing and receiving one another’s lives.

Life isn’t a bunch of moving objects here to serve us. Instead, our surroundings are full of creation and life – something to be relished and appreciated. Love is about noticing those people, places, and things and making the time to interact instead of taking all we have for granted.

Love in the form of an open heart.Some people have had tough lives, even very challenging situations that have caused deep hurt. When a young person experiences too much pain, the heart can close. It’s a form of self-protection. But keeping a closed heart permanently is refusing to allow healing.

Like any other wounds, our emotions will heal when we effectively acknowledge them and let them go through the grief process.  But when we ignore them or shut down, we are locked in the past regardless of the reality of now. We are constantly triggered, unable to sort out fact from fiction, real from unreal, and true from false. We can’t judge the current situation accurately if we aren’t in the moment. The only way to be fully present is to unload unfinished emotional baggage.

If your heart is closed, it’s time to feel the pain of the past and let it go. There’s nothing back there that can protect you now. It’s only hurting you because you haven’t moved on. Love is all around you; open your heart and let it in.

Love in the form of self-care.There’s a big difference between performing tasks and self-care. When we love something, we put a great deal of energy into it. A tired but loving mother gladly awakens to feed, change, or care for her baby. She makes sure that child feels important and worthy of her time and attention. Her state of consciousness does not feel burdened by her efforts because she is sourced with an abundance of love to give. She chooses to come from the place of having enough energy instead of fatigue and lack.

However, many of us didn’t receive that unconditional love, and we continue to abuse ourselves. Self-care means we nurture our bodies and emotions regardless of how we were parented as children. We eat nutritious food, minimize the bad stuff, and get plenty of exercise, playtime, and rest. Responsibilities are only part of our day. When we properly nourish our bodies, our brains work optimally. When we address our feelings, our brains work even better. Holding in anger and hurt bogs us down and drains our energy.

How we care for ourselves is reflected in how we treat others. Some people treat their pets better than they treat themselves. No one will love you more than you love yourself.

Valentine’s Day is a time to share and receive love in all its forms. Romance is great, but it shouldn’t cause you to miss out on the opportunities to share and receive the love all around you. Try treating someone (and yourself) with genuine kindness this Valentine’s Day. Then notice that feeling that swells up inside your heart. This is love. This is what we’re searching for. There are no substitutes for real love.

The next time you see a rose, a book, a meal, or a person, look deep within. Appreciate all that has gone into that creation. Listen, smell, touch, and feel with all your heart. Then you will be experiencing Valentine’s Day from a place of complete and total love.



Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

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