What Was Valentine’s Day All About?

First of all, a shedload of money. According to one estimate, the UK spends around £1bn a year on gifts and going out on Valentine’s Day.

FreeImages.com/Linnell Esler

You could be forgiven for thinking that St Valentine is the patron saint of the gullible.  But here are a few other things this day is for.

1 A chance to show someone you’re interested, without giving too much away. Sending a valentine is like saying you love someone then putting a smiley at the end to show you didn’t really mean it 😉

But choose your message wisely, especially if you think size matters. This is what it said on the back of one such card.

Valentine card warning

2 A time for charities to remind you that few things are as loveable as a ball of fluff or a cold wet nose. And that there are other ways to spend your money than on long-stemmed red roses and other such fripperies.

Here’s a cute little video from the Mayhew Animal Home, which regular readers of this blog will have seen mentioned before.

3 A dance in the village hall plastered with red hearts, like the one I went to last night. Not just a disco, but also live music, a quiz, and endless helpings of chili con carne, all bound to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winter’s night. The scene is replicated in village halls all over the land, where raffles and dad dancing take place. Whether it’s to raise funds for upkeep of the rec, or to support some local club, it’s the community getting together in a good cause.

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Perhaps that should be the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.

Invitation

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How to Be Single AND Happy on Valentine’s Day

Even if the whole world is loved up and you’re not, you don’t have to be a sad singleton on Valentine’s Day, according to my friend and colleague Christine Webber. She’s a psychotherapist who’s just updated her book Get the Happiness Habit, so you can expect her to know what she’s talking about. Here’s what she has to say…

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When you’re single, February 14 can feel like a nightmare – being one of those dates that loom large and trip you up emotionally. It’s nearly as bad as having to go to your sister’s wedding when you’re heartbroken after a relationship break up, or being forced into a family Christmas where relatives invariably – and loudly – ask if you’ve got a boyfriend.

On Valentine’s Day, everyone seems to be flaunting their flowers, their cards, and their plans for the perfect evening. Not surprisingly, you can easily allow yourself to feel a romantic failure in comparison.

But here’s the thing. How insecure, or unfeeling, must your boss be about her relationship if she has to have a Valentine’s bouquet delivered to reception rather to her own home? Maybe she sent it herself? And how many of your friends are going to be seriously out of pocket after a poorly-cooked dinner in an overrated and crowded restaurant? People’s expectations of Valentine’s Day are stratospheric; so much so that they’re nearly always disappointed. Well, you have no expectations. And no need to spend a fortune. So your situation’s not all bad!

paint the kitchen

Why not stay home on Valentine’s Day and paint the kitchen or something? But then go out with a bunch of happy, single friends on the 15th when everything is saner, cheaper and roomier.

Here’s something else to ponder. Most of us – in our fast-changing world – are going to be single from time to time. And it’s important that we view these periods of our lives as viable and productive – and not just as some sort of limbo till we fall for someone new. Individuals who place too much importance on the value of relationships are often guilty of believing that their single life can never be anything than a dilute version of the joys of coupledom.

heart in the sand

This is dangerous thinking – particularly when people believe that they must have a partner in order to be happy. When they have those thoughts and beliefs they’re anxious about relationships even when they’re in one – because they’re constantly terrified that it might end. That anxiety generally manifests itself as neediness, which is hugely demanding on any spouse and damaging to the relationship.

Christine WebberSo, this February, have a think about what being happy means to you.  And make sure that there is plenty about your single life that is contented and joyous even though – at present – you have no romantic liaison.

When people take responsibility for their own happiness, rather than expect someone else to provide it for them – they become more mentally healthy, resilient and optimistic.

Of course, having a warm, loving partner is going to augment your levels of happiness, but he or she should not be responsible for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Get the Happiness Habit front (2)Thank you very much, Christine.

For more insights and advice on being happy, see Christine’s book Get the Happiness Habit.

You may also like to read her guest post on How to Mend a Broken Heart.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’ve never seen Christine look glum.  

How to Mend a Broken Heart

This week I’m delighted to feature a guest post from psychotherapist and author Christine Webber.  If you have angina, talk to your doctor, but if your heart’s broken, you need Christine’s wisdom.

Chris WebberIs there a worse pain in the world than heart-break? I don’t think so.

It can happen if you’re made redundant. Or if a parent or partner dies. But most of us associate it with being dumped. And that is one of life’s truly devastating losses.

You lose your partner. Your investment in the past and future. Your certainty about who you spend Sundays with. And – most distressing of all – you can feel that you’ve lost your judgement too.

As one heartbroken client of mine said: ‘I picked him. Then I put up with all sorts of awful things when we were together – but soldiered on because of our children. Now I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I got together with him in the first place.’

So what can you do to get over your broken heart?

First of all, don’t make things worse than they already are by assuming that life is going to be hateful for ever.

Often, when people are heart-broken they say: ‘I feel rejected, and miserable and low …’ This is entirely logical, and understandable.

But then they compound their distress by saying something illogical like: ‘And no one else will ever love me again, and life will be total hell from now on.’

However, without a crystal ball, they can’t possibly know  that!

broken heart

So, no matter how hurt you are, try to confine your focus to what’s happening now, rather than making painful assumptions about your future.

Secondly, accept that the relationship is totally over. It’s agony acknowledging that your partner has really gone for good – but it’s easier in the long run than living in hope that he or she will have a change of heart.

Another thing you need to accept is that you may never understand why you’ve been dumped. Often people insist that they can’t move on till they know for sure what went wrong. This is a waste of time and energy. Vast numbers of individuals never feel satisfied with the reasons their ex gives them for wanting out. So the sooner you give up on getting a plausible explanation the better.

Next – no matter what the temptation – don’t try to be pals with your former partner. He or she may try to persuade you to stay friends, in an attempt to lessen their own guilt. But this is unlikely to benefit you. You’ve got friends. You wanted your partner to fulfil a totally different role. In time, perhaps you will be able to restore some sort of friendship – especially if you share children – but not now.

Above all, NEVER HAVE SEX WITH YOUR EX. Afterwards, you’ll feel more lonely and wretched than ever.

Of course your ex-partner may hint that he or she has made a terrible mistake. If that happens, you should talk together, have dinner, talk some more …  But don’t let this person join you in bed unless the relationship is fully back on track.

Finally, write a list of things about your ex that you don’t miss. This is very therapeutic. Carry it with you at all times and add to it every time you think of another negative aspect of this person who has hurt you so much.

One day, like the characters in One Night at the Jacaranda, you’ll realise that you’re ready to start dating again, and that you’ve got a whole lot of living to do yet. I can’t promise you when that will be, but it will happen.

Christine Webber is a psychotherapist who specialises in sex and relationship problems, and the author of How To Mend A Broken Heart.

The 12 Quotes of Christmas

Right now you can hardly turn around without hearing the word Christmas, usually accompanied by lame puns on seasonal words like holly and merry, and the lazy journalist’s headline The 12 whatever-they-are, even if those particular whatever-they-are have nothing to do with Christmas.  Well, I’m not about to get left behind in this frantic festive scramble, so here are my 12 favourite quotes.  Just in the St Nick of time.

If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.”  Khalil Gibran

“What we’re saying today is that you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” Eldridge Cleaver

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”  Nelson Mandela

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”  Vincent van GoghMLK crop

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” Martin Luther King, Jr

“True friends stab you in the front.”  Oscar Wilde

‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”   W. Somerset Maugham

“I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.” Oprah Winfrey

“Stupid is as stupid does.”  Forrest Gump

“I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry.”  John Cage

“You cannot predict the future.”  Stephen Hawking

and that’s why you probably didn’t expect this 12th quote

يوم عسل يوم بصل

This anonymous Arabic quote translates as “One day honey, another day onions” and I think it nicely encapsulates the bittersweet nature of life.

What are your favourite quotes?