Valentine’s Day was just a few weeks ago and everywhere you looked retail stores and ads told us we needed a gift from someone special to feel loved. Chocolates, flowers, teddy bears holding hearts, chocolate covered strawberries even popcorn drizzled in chocolate. The stores were filled with husbands, boyfriends, partners and sons standing dumbfounded by the massive selections, some so overwhelmed they left with one of everything.

On the other hand, we have wives, girlfriends, partners, and daughters who have been conditioned to believe that on February 14th every year THE most important thing is to have someone who loves them, cares for them who will demonstrate it with one of the traditional Valentine gifts.

And then we have those of us who for a variety of reasons, single, widowed, or just a have a partner that thinks Valentines is silly, that receive nothing. Too many of us feel a bit left out. Years ago when we were in grade school you could see the child that was overlooked for a Valentine and was sad, sometimes even had tears falling. Very strange that a silly little piece of paper could make someone happy or sad.

Perhaps, it would be great if we as women focused more on helping young girls understand that “loving yourself” is really what matters, having a friend or partner gift you something is nice but it doesn’t determine if we are loved or not. One young friend expressed to me that she would be staying home “again” and was bummed out all day. Another friend told me once that her husband would buy her flowers and bring them home but it “wasn’t like the friends who got theirs delivered to work.”  I felt very sad for both of my friends that their happiness depended so much that day on flowers and chocolates.

As a child due to the era I was born into, women depended upon men for most of their needs. Then one day after having left a broken relationship, a very wise person told me that before anyone else could love us, we needed to learn to love ourselves. Before anyone else could enjoy spending time with us, we should learn to enjoy spending time alone. I went to museums, took trips, went to movies and to my surprise I was completely happy and at peace. A few years later, I met the man I would spend the rest of my life with and yes, he does bring me flowers but even if not, I would not feel sad, love comes in many ways, a morning hug, or a hand reaching to hold yours.

While Valentine’s Day is fun, and who doesn’t enjoy chocolate, but wouldn’t it be great to teach our young girls the lesson that many of us missed. A flower or a box of chocolates is not needed to be happy or feel loved. Be happy with yourself and if you aren’t, work on changing it. Then if someone special comes along, it’s just icing on the cake!