Three Ways to Mindfully Celebrate Valentine’s Day from a Therapist and Recovering Love and Sex Addict
I’ll admit it. I LOVE Valentine’s Day.
As a recovering female love and sex addict (FSLA), it’s no mystery that I love, love. And I really love that we get a holiday where we can celebrate love. It can be love we have with significant others, friends, family, children, or pets.
However, Valentine’s Day is a complex topic for many people. It can bring up shame and sadness around not having a significant other to celebrate the day with. Or, on the other hand, we have the Anti-Valentine’s Day folks who see today as another pointless hallmark holiday (which I don’t disagree with either).
Wherever you may personally land when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I think most of us can agree that, naturally, we all want to feel loved and it feels good to love others.
And, yes, we should experience and practice this on a regular basis. But there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to take today to set even higher intention around this and celebrate.
With my personal recovery as a FSLA, I’ve learned just how addicting love can be. It can be a high and an escape. Of course, it’s like this for pretty much anyone who falls in love but the addict constantly seeks out the feeling in various ways.
And Valentine’s Day can be a major trigger for those who identify with love and sex addiction. If we’re not conscious enough around our own behavior and if we haven’t healed enough, it can be an excuse to “binge out” and fixate on love, so to speak.
It’s perfectly healthy to want to indulge on Valentines Day by making the day a little extra special for yourself or someone else. But for those who identify as a FSLA, Valentine’s Day can feel like muddy waters.
If today is a particularly challenging time for you, whether you identify as a SLA or not, here are a few tips on how to mindfully celebrate the holiday:
1.) Naming Your Triggers
Today may extra tender and triggering for you. It may bring up memories of past painful romances or feelings of hopelessness around romantic love. Practice self-love by being honest with yourself when those feelings surface and implement self-compassion. It’s okay to want to be loved and it’s okay to feel disappointment. If we practice naming and acknowledging our uncomfortable feelings, they pass much more quickly.
2.) Practicing Healthy Boundaries
There are several ways we can practice healthy boundaries on Valentine’s Day. The first one that comes to mind is boundaries with money. It’s totally great if you want to pamper and treat yourself or someone else today. But we need to be cautious when it comes to over-spending or compromising our financial security, especially if it’s out of fulfilling a romantic fantasy or out of pleasing someone else as a way to gain their approval. It’s also important to be mindful of our expectations on a day like today. We can easily get caught up in fantasy-based thinking of believing others should inherently know what we want or need. Ask yourself what should you realistically expect from others today and if you do have expectations, are you communicating those with others?
3.) Using Mindfulness to Ease Obsessive Thoughts and Ruminating
Especially if you’re a SLA, you may find yourself ruminating or obsessing a little more than usual. Maybe you’re fixated on old relationships and can’t stop thinking of an ex. Or if you’re early on in your recovery and have sworn off dating, you may be second guessing your decision and want to “act out”. When you feel the urges or obsessive thoughts become overwhelming, stop and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and simply observe your breath. You can even begin to alter your breathing by inhaling for the count of four and exhaling for the count of four. This will help regulate your nervous system and decrease anxiety. Continue this practice until you feel more grounded.
The most important thing to do, whether you’re with a significant other or not, is to practice self-love.
You are lovable and worthy with or without a relationship in your life. AND it’s okay to wish you have someone to celebrate with, if you don’t. Being conscious means naming all the feelings and accepting that we can feel so many different things at one time.