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Welp… it’s finally here. Right when we think we’ve gotten past the craziness of all the holidays- one of the most dreaded (or anticipated) days has finally arrived. Some people spend this day with their significant others or partners, while others spend it mourning the loss of a loved one. Some spend it with their friends, while others completely ignore it. If I am honest… I tend to fall in the camp of ignoring it. I am a person who tries to express my love for others throughout the year and not simply on February 14th.

As I started to think about Valentine’s Day this year, I began to think about it in a new way. It’s easy for me to tell my family members, friends, or significant other how much I care for them. It’s easy for me to thank them for the roles they have had in my life and the impact that they have made. But how often do I stop and take the time to extend love to myself? How often do I give myself the space to think of what I have accomplished or accept where I’m currently at? How often do I show myself lovingkindness?

Lovingkindness is often a very foreign concept to people. It can look and feel strange. Some people view it as a self-care. They will spend time getting their nails done, buying new clothing, or going out to eat at a nice restaurant. But lovingkindness is so much more than that. Lovingkindness is the way we talk to ourselves. It’s the way we treat ourselves and view ourselves.

It can be the way I think about myself. When I make a mistake or do something I’m not proud of, it can be a simple statement of “You’re doing the best you can, Nina… and you can do better.” If I am discouraged about where I currently am in life I can state, “This is where I am. It is what it is. What can I do to make it better or more manageable?”

Lovingkindness can be taking the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from and celebrating successes. It can be acknowledging the fact that while in the past, you may have eaten a whole carton of ice cream on a stressful day… now you only eat half of a carton. It’s recognizing that while you may still engage in unhealthy behaviors, you may be viewing situations differently or approaching them in a different manor.

At times, lovingkindness is setting intentions for myself. It’s saying, “May I be happy… may I be healthy… may I be full of peace.” It’s allowing the space to let those words settle in. To truly wish these things for my life. And to hope for them.

In a world in which we can so easily get wrapped up in relationships, we often forget the relationship we have with ourselves. We forget to take the time to consider what happiness and health may look like for us.

On this Valentine’s Day, as we think through the various people that have been placed in our lives, I would encourage each of you to also take the time to consider yourself. Acknowledge where you’ve come from. Consider where you are. And if you’re comfortable… try to set some intentions for yourself for the upcoming year. Extend yourself some happiness, some health, and some peace.