Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we all have our feelings about it. If we’re dating or (happily) married, we may be excited about the flowers, chocolates, and candlelit dinners. If we are single, we may feel dissatisfied, sad, or annoyed. (We may even retitle the holiday “Singles Awareness Day.”) Either way, is our tendency to define love in terms of romance making us miss a much bigger picture?
Yes, I believe so. I have no issue with Valentine’s Day itself—I just don’t want us to let it trivialize what love actually is.
Whether you have a partner or not, don’t fall into the trap of seeing love as something outside yourself. We’re all born with love; in fact, it’s our Divine Purpose—our reason for being here—and it’s the origin of all our power. It’s what allows us to exert positive influence on those around us.
When you reconnect with that primal power—I call it “love-power”—you unlock the door to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life. You become a heart-driven person who regularly uses your influence to not only improve your life but the lives of those around you.
You may not be used to thinking of power and influence in terms of love. That’s because Western civilization views the mind (not the heart) as the source of power. But since intellect is intertwined with ego, love-based power often gets distorted, morphing into fear-based power. This causes us to seek to control others, to be passive-aggressive, to act like a victim, to engage in risky behaviors to feel special or noticed, and more.
I believe the ancient wisdom of the 4,000-year-old Tao Te Ching can help us identify and break the “power patterns” that undermine our influence, create dysfunctional relationships, and otherwise squelch our potential.
When you’re in pure love-power, you’re happy, curious, in an unending state of awe. You’re quick to forgive. You’re wide open to other people and new opportunities. Everything about how you experience the world—and how it experiences you—shifts.
Read on for some “light” and relatively simple things you can do on Valentine’s Day—and afterward—to start reconnecting with your pure love-power.
Take a Valentine’s Day meditation break. (It’s the key to experiencing life in the holy moment of now.) Why should we meditate? Because it helps us detach from our preferences—which trigger our need to be “right” or “in control” and lead to suffering—and practice being in the present. Just set aside 15-20 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, that’s okay: The point is not to judge the thoughts that stream endlessly into your consciousness but to allow them to ebb and flow without getting emotionally hooked.
Gift yourself a lovely journal. Journaling is a powerful practice that can help you get in better touch with your thoughts and feelings, recognize goals, enhance gratitude, and pinpoint areas in your life that need work. Find a journal that speaks to you (pick a gorgeous one that inspires you to write). Then set aside some time alone (even just 10 minutes) to write each day.
Journal to find gratitude. Write about your blessings until you see how abundant your life really is. Pause as you write to ensure that you really feel the state of gratitude.
Sing and dance your way to gratitude. As mentioned, many people keep a gratitude journal. The problem is, it can turn into a mindless checklist that simply creates the illusion of gratitude. If that happens, try singing and dancing instead. In his book The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel Ruiz says this is a natural expression of our love-power—which is why little children sing and dance. They haven’t yet developed the filters and fear that they’ll be judged. You can dance and sing in the privacy of your room or as you clean your house. If you want to take it to the next level, consider signing up for a hip-hop or salsa class or joining a local choir.
Get rid of something that isn’t serving you. Often without realizing it, we clutter and complicate our lives with things that create chaos and drama. It can be anything from too much “stuff” in our homes, to too many commitments, to the wrong job or relationship. A great expression of self-love is to pinpoint something to purge. Do a closet clean out or a social media detox. Turn down a project. Draw a much-needed boundary. Just take one step to simplify your life and free up your energy.
Grieve losses and release pain with this heart exercise. This may not feel very Valentine-y, but when we’re changing our life for the better, we must first release what was. Otherwise we’ll get stuck and block the clarity we need to move forward. Pain can be released through the portal of the heart. When you focus on your heart, a desire to release the pain of the past may arise. Even better, your heart knows how to do that without your mind interrupting.
If you’re single, stop searching for “the one.” It’s common to believe that there’s one person out there who can finally see us for who we really are. But searching for our perfect match is a chase that’s based on an illusion. I love romance, but I’ve come to believe that it’s usually founded in the need to be special. People search for “the one” their entire lives, never escaping the constant craving for specialness. Never confuse love with specialness. Love supports a life of joy and love-power; “specialness” impedes it.
If you’re in a romantic relationship, start working toward a cause you believe in, together. There is no greater calling for a romantic relationship than to create a better world. In fact, many millennials are moving in this direction! Rather than being absorbed by one another, they are breaking the old paradigm of romantic co-dependency and choosing instead to be inter-dependent, working together for causes that uplift humanity. This new paradigm of relationship lets people shift from a state of isolation within their own dramas, fears, and wounds, which are experienced as they get to know their partner, to becoming a presence in the world.
Talk with your partner and choose a project to participate in. Maybe arrange to visit an orphanage to play games with or tutor school children, or plan a fundraiser event to benefit the homeless. Think about the passions you both share and start there. You will be amazed by how deeply a project rooted in love-power can transform your lives.
While Valentine’s Day is a good time to think about connecting to your love-power, or even take a symbolic first step, it’s actually a journey you take every day, all year long.
Before you can bring your best self to all of your relationships, you must connect to love-power. Love-power is the key to unlocking your potential and opening your being to everything life has in store. It’s how you provide clarity to those around you. It’s how you join hearts with others to change the world.
Karen McGregor is a leadership and influence expert, international keynote speaker, and the best-selling author of several books, with her most recent, The Tao of Influence: Ancient Leadership Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs.