The Art of Not Allowing A Consumption-Based Holiday to Define Your Self-Worth
Research has shown that each year, people all over the world go all out to spend over $13 billion on Valentine’s Day worldwide. That is a billion dollars more than the GDP of Albania… Please keep that in mind while you’re battling Valentines Days blues because you are single, or your partner happens to be a Valentine’s Day party-pooper.
Nothing else can be blamed for this financial frenzy but the decades of romantic movies and advertising that we have been exposed to. These have set us up for an emotional conundrum: Shall we value one day of performance and show-off over passing months or years of loyalty and dedication? Unfortunately, the answer is often yes, especially for the female folks: if one’s partner doesn’t deliver the (right!) kind of flowers/candy/jewellery on valentine’s day, there is bound to be tears and a feeling of abandonment. Unfortunately, the feelings are real, but the trigger is fake – the trigger is fake because when everyone’s movie about a happy-ending Valentine’s Day finishes in a grand gesture, they are bound to get caught up in the lies.
So, for example, is giving someone flowers a fake gesture?
Some of you may have heard about the inspiring book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This established couple’s therapist suggests that everyone shows and understands love in their own unique ways. Gifting is one of the 5 love languages alongside Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Physical Touch (cuddling for example, not sex).
So if gifting is your love language, you can express your devotion to your partner with little gifts or maybe larger gifts. You could buy them their favourite chocolate bar, or it could be as large as buying them a new car – It depends entirely on your budget. However, since this means you interpret gifts as gestures of love, if you then happen to be dating a Quality Time ‘love speaker,’ you might unfairly find yourself questioning their dedication. Giving and receiving can be beautiful gestures of affection and practicing the gifting culture of holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s day is not something bad per se. Expectations only become a problem when Valentine’s Day meets low self-esteem which then meets an external locus of evaluation.
External Locus of What?
Having an external locus of evaluation means that you value yourself and your self-worth by how other people value you. That is, on this specific holiday in which you need one or multiple people to shower you with attention and gifts to feel loved and worthy, if that doesn’t happen, it can make all of the involved parties miserable. And if one’s mental resilience isn’t up to par, it can even trigger episodes of depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
What Am I Trying to Say?
If upon honest reflection you find yourself struggling with feelings of sadness, emptiness and being unworthy every year because the attention and gifts do not roll in enough to make you feel loved, you should know that Valentine’s Day is just an ultimate cash cow that doesn’t reflect true love… Well, it’s very easy to know this, but it will be hard to feel it as the truth. This is where coaching, counselling or therapy will help you get to the bottom of the origin of your external locus of evaluation. Now is a good time to invest in a happier, healthier you!
I talk big talk right now, but I know I would personally struggle with my feelings if my partner refuses to do something special for Valentines Day. My usual subconscious strategy is to organize something special myself that day so as to avoid the pain, but this year I’m going to let go and allow whatever feelings arise; regardless of whether the feelings are comfortable or not. I’ll do this because that is when growth happens, and by allowing myself to grow, I am being my own sweet Valentine.