It’s Valentine’s Day. A day, for love, lover’s, and loving. Another marketing ploy to get thirsty Americans to buy useless stuff that will eventually end up in a donation bin, behind someone’s gas station parking lot. Four year old overstuffed teddy bear anyone?
Who Invents This Stuff?
If you do some digging on the holiday, you will find it has both Roman and Christian roots. At one point, the Romans discovered that single men make better soldiers. Emperor Claudius II then outlawed young men to marry. Some dude named Valentine continued to marry young couples in secret, and then when the Emperor found out, he jailed him and sentenced him to death. Rumor has it, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter prior to his execution and wrote her letters. He signed them “Your Valentine” hence the expression we hear jostled about today.
There is also some stuff in the books about pagan fertility rituals, and women getting slapped around with goatskins, but the details are not critical for this discussion. The stuff we have kept through present day however, comes from the Greeks.
Greek Loving 7 Different Ways:
- Philia – love of the mind, aka brotherly love (What’s up Philadelphia?)
- Eros – love of the body, aka sexual or erotic love
- Agape – love of the soul, and without expectation of return, humanitarian/volunteer work kind of love. I think namaste when I hear agape love – it’s recognizing the soul in each of us
- Storge – love for your kids, unconditional, and willing to sacrifice anything. (The kind of love that will have a mom jump in front of a raging animal to protect her children)
- Pragma – the love of a couple who knows and understands each other past the infatuation phase; grown folks love, (the kind that requires and invites challenging conversations to understand each other better)
- Luda – childlike fun loving love; the kind you have for your friends when you are laughing and joking, and living life without care
- Philautia – love of the self, ranging from narcissism to ultimate self care
No One Loves Their Job
Notice there is no word in the Greek for love of work, or love of country, or love of war. That’s a recent invention and fabrication; a man-made distortion of how love can manifest. You can appreciate your work, your job. But do you really love it? I don’t think that’s the word. And Emperor Claudius knew this, hence why he tried to coerce allegiance by depriving soldiers of eros. We have seen this tactic before. Lysistrata anyone? Spike Lee updated the story and made a movie if you are late to the game on this one. But withholding sex has been a long standing tactic in bending the will of soldiers.
Stop Counting Valentines
This morning on the way to school, my daughter reminded me, “Mommy, daddy loves you. That means he’s your valentine. And I love you. And Ben loves you. We are all your valentines!” Indeed. But, more importantly, I love myself. And that’s love number 1 (or seven if you’re following the list provided): philaustia.
Too Much Good Love?
Now, just as with anything else, love of self can manifest in negative and positive ways. At its core, it manifests as narcissism and the need for fame, wealth . . . say a reality TV star who falls in love with himself, and despite limited mental capacity, or experience, convinces himself he is worthy of the highest office in the land. That’s a lot of philaustia gone wrong.
But on the flip side, in the healthy corner, there is the love of self that comes with self care, self respect, high self esteem, a sense of self worth, and the recognition that when we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for others.
when we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for others.
Instead of focusing on how to get more eros or even philia this holiday ( I see you with your Galentine’s Day plans), instead of buying cards and sweets for others, and trying to seduce others/coerce others to love you (a la Roman Emperor), why not start with you? We can only glean so much validation from others. The true test of how much love we can give is how much we are willing to respect and show love to ourselves. If your love tank is empty, how are you gong to keep giving love away?
Here’s a short list of ideas to get you started.
21 Ways To Be Your Own Valentine
- Buy yourself some flowers
- Treat yourself to dinner or cook something “ah”- mazing
- Get a massage
- Get a new haircut
- Call your best friend
- Take a nap
- Take the day off
- Go dancing
- Write in your journal
- Go for a run
- Read a new book that’s been on your list for ages
- Put on some comfy socks
- Finally finish your vision board
- Say your affirmations, out loud, and mean it
- Book a trip
- Soak in the tub
- Have a glass of wine
- Paint something
- Be still
Loving You First
When our love of self is out of whack, it’s hard for us to love others, or to see them for who they are. When we can’t even see ourselves, everything else blurs too. And when that happens, your loving is all out of balance, and you end up becoming a blind soldier, an automaton, doing someone’s bidding, without purpose, and without vision. No one who loves themself has a job/partner/friend/life they dislike.
Don’t we all want to live in a world with more?
This V Day, I am advocating for more. Less blind allegiance, and more compassion. Fewer mindless cards and candy, and more care, and communication. Less narcissism. More self respect. Less rushing. More pausing. Don’t we all want to live in a world with more?
And About “Galentines”
Coupled up today? Stop feeling sorry for your single friends. You don’t know what kind of love they have on their calendar today. And if your life is full of friends, children, soul sisters and brothers, love for humanity, and childlike infatuation and glee, how will you choose to exercise your love today? Every day? More often? To make sure you are keeping your love in balance? Keeping yourself in harmony?
Yea, it’s nice to have a lot of valentine’s, but you really only need one to be happy. You.