The first Valentine’s Day after divorce is miserable.
I actually never loved the holiday anyway, but Valentine’s Day in 2006 was exceptionally worse than most. You see, this holiday came only four months after my divorce.
And I was not looking forward to it.
I had already sworn off every chick flick that ever existed, proclaiming they were full of lies, I had threatened anyone and everyone to not give me any gifts, and I avoided any half-decorated stores at all costs.
So when my friend showed up on my doorstep with a Valentine’s Day card of two chipmunk amigos, I was appalled. I had specifically told him not to get me anything (and to not expect anything in return!).
Little did I know “this friend” would patiently wait for me to work through so much of my past and then ask me to be a part of his future for good. Thanks to my sweet husband for waiting around, and for not giving up on me on that first Valentine’s Day.
But you know what? I wasn’t 100% “fixed” by the time we got married. I still struggled with a lot of things. I had so many emotional ups and downs. It was hard on our marriage.
I didn’t like the strain I put between us. I felt so unstable, unregulated, unbalanced, and I wanted to make progress in my emotional capacity, but I felt so stuck.
I still loathed chick-flicks, but when Valentine’s Day came around each year, I would soften my heart and look for the cutest ideas on the net. Oh! A date night kit? Why not? So cute! Or how about this . . . Movie and dinner in a super-creative-way-holy-cow-who-even-comes-up-with-these-ideas???
I always wanted to find the best gift ever—especially to redeem myself from our very first one.
PROBLEM: What is the best Valentine’s Day gift ever?
But today, I KNOW what the best gift is.
The BEST VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT EVER is ME knowing how to work through my ups and downs, recognizing when I’m feeling angry, knowing what to do when my anxiety comes, and taking steps when my sadness arrives so that I can work through these emotions (and it doesn’t take weeks to do so!), so that I come out better afterward, and so that I can bring my best self to our marriage.
And for your spouse and loved ones, the best Valentine’s Day gift ever is that of YOU too.
Can you work through your emotions so that you come out better afterward? Does it take you days to feel better? Can you reduce that to hours? Or even minutes?
Do your loved ones want chocolate this year? Diamonds? Jewlery? Grilling tools? A vacation? Or would they ultimately want a balanced YOU. YOU who can navigate through your emotions, being empowered because of them, and being victorious in every experience.
I believe they want YOU.
So how can you become YOU?
Before we start creating this new YOU, you need to recognize that your emotions are not bad to have. They are actually good! I like to think of them as sidekicks who come to help me when there is something deeper that I need to resolve. Your emotions are doing the same thing for you.
But how do they help you? Your emotions are actually bringing a message to you of something you need to do. This message is a very individualized message JUST FOR YOU in your current situation! Isn’t that amazing?!?
Better yet, once you recognize that emotion’s message and act on it, the emotion has done its job and it leaves you in peace. No need to try to control it, suppress it, explode with it, or ignore it. The sooner you sense your emotion, listen to its message, and act on it, the sooner the emotion will leave.
I am living proof of this!
SOLUTION: The Best Valentine’s Day Gift Ever is an emotionally competent YOU!
So how do you figure out what the emotion’s message is? This is where the work and sweat comes in.
1. The first thing you need to do is recognize what emotion you are feeling. This handy cheat sheet is a great reference in helping you identify what you are feeling, and in knowing what the parent emotion is.
2. Once you know what parent emotion is present with you, you can begin to ponder on the message it might be bringing.
- If you are feeling anger, you are experiencing a situation where a boundary has been violated, and you are vulnerable and unprotected unless it is re-established. So you need to discern what boundary was violated and how to restore it.
- If you are feeling sadness, you are experiencing a situation where there is something you need to let go of. So you need to discover what you need to let go of, and then let it go.
- If you are feeling fear, then there is a choice that needs to be made—and you need to make it. So you need to perceive what your options are and what your choice needs to be, then choose it!
3. Now you just need to uncover the individualized message your emotion has come to tell you!
And don’t forget to learn about carrying emotions—what it means and what to do to give them back. Carrying emotions can weigh you down tremendously without even realizing it. And it doesn’t even help anyone else out. So don’t do it! Learn about it and get rid of that extra baggage.
Emotion work is an amazing work! And you can do it! You were born with this power to recognize what your emotions are telling you.
Save the cash this Valentine’s Day and give your loved ones an emotionally competent YOU.