While the celebration of Valentine’s Day may come across as an U.S. aberration, many other countries and cultures do observe the occasion, but most commonly as a day to celebrate love and friendship. And it is perhaps in the pursuit of profit, that our nation - which once sold a rock as a pet and just launched a car into space - devolved a holiday of celebrating all of our relationships into a day to focus on just those which are most lucrative. Luckily for us at Alliant, we have an entire school full of psychological experts who can bring us back to a place where we can use this time of year to more thoroughly examine, and more effectively enrich, each one of our relationships— including those with our friends, family, and- most importantly- ourselves.
Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D., Program Director of the Clinical Psychology PhD Program at the California School of Professional Psychology, encourages us to take this Valentine’s Day to focus on self-love.
Self-love is often considered selfish. Self-compassion considered trivial. Self-care is often not considered at all. In light of a holiday that arrives every year cloaked in fits of introspection, Gasbarrini tells us that we should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection. To consider the primal ideal that no effort could be more integral to our emotional wellbeing, more enriching to our every relationship, more imperious to our psyche.
“The best outlook to have on Valentine’s Day is one of self-love, of celebrating who you are. Of taking the time to engage in a mindful review of everything that makes you a wonderfully unique individual with qualities that can engender authentic human connection,” says Gasbarrini.
We will get no better advice than to consider the simple yet daunting action of learning to have love and compassion for ourselves. It can bring us far closer to achieving the elusive state of bliss than any evening of commercially-mandated romanticism or alternatively spending the day in a state of self-doubt about the love, or lack of love, in our lives .
While self-love should rule supreme in our Valentine’s Day reflections, Gasbarrini also gives us a trio of tips for reflection to keep close every time mid-February approaches, especially for those of us who fall into the single category:
- Remind yourself that you’re not alone.
Love comes in many different forms. If you are only focused on your romantic attachments, you’re at risk of devaluing all of the other relationships in your life.
- Come to the realization that February 14th can be an exhaustive, and often futile, exercise in expectation-setting.
Men and women who are coupled often have grandiose expectations for Valentine’s Day. Many people expect to get engaged, to receive gifts, to have sex, be taken out for a romantic dinner, etc. and very often their expectations are not met. Among many couples, Valentine’s Day ends up being the catalyst for a break.
But if you’re single, expectations are minimized. You’re not going to spend your Valentine’s Day going through a breakup, and then spend next Valentine’s Day remembering how awful that day was last year.
- To put it quite bluntly, and at risk of not implementing the most academic jargon here: Valentine’s Day- in its current commercialized form- is kind of dumb…
Keep in mind that our modern form of Valentine’s Day is a commercial event designed to encourage people to spend money. I encourage my clients not to base their self-esteem on a manufactured holiday whose purpose is to stimulate the economy.
In addition to focusing our energy and reflection on self-love, compassion, and celebrating all of your relationships this Valentine’s Day, also remember that we have the greatest minds in psychology at our emotional disposal here at CSPP who agree that Valentine’s Day- in its current form- can be a vapid, soul-crushing endeavor. “Dumbest holiday ever. You can quote me on that…and I say this as a happily married woman,” says Dr. Gasbarrini – the enlightened professor and Alliant’s official champion of self-love and compassion on this holiest of days. If we are to truly embrace the spirit of this holiday, we must consider the expert advice of Alliant’s psychological voices of reason and learn to love ourselves, while valuing each of our friendships, kinships, and connections. Instead of looking externally for love and looking at self-love for ourselves, we will be much happier and ensure that every month of February has at least one day of psychologically-sound examination of our love lives.
If you’re interested in advancing your career in psychology Alliant offers APA accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology, a master's in marriage and family therapy, organizational psychology and organizational development. For more information contact an admissions counselor.
If Clinical Psychology speaks to you, our PhD and PsyD in Clinical Psychology may be for you. Check them out here.
If getting "psyched" about valentine'd day speaks to you, check out our Alliant Valentine's Day cards featuring Maslow, Frankl, Rogers, and Freud here.