“Peace of Mind” | What’s Love Got To Do With It?

February 12, 2019

#WPUPeaceOfMind Blog No. 3:
What’s Love Got to Do with It?

By Mindy McDowell, Counseling Intern
Edited by Sheri Keasler, Student Services Office Manager

Valentine’s Day may not be all candy hearts and flowers for everyone. Regardless of your romantic relationship status, this celebration of love can seem like it’s for everyone but you, and may even highlight the dissatisfaction that some feel within their own relationships or even their own lives.

A look back

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day originated as a feast day for two saints both named “Valentine.” It began to be associated with romantic love in the 14th century when Geoffrey Chaucer (author of The Canterbury Tales) referenced the day in The Parlement of Foules, a poem written to celebrate the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. Fast forward to the mid-1800’s, Valentine’s Day cards began to be mass produced in the US making it the second largest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, and the term “Hallmark holiday” was born!

Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries across the world and although there are some cultural differences, the focus remains on traditional expressions of love and romance, such as sentimental notes, chocolate, and flowers.

“A celebration of love should be as wide open as a hug and as varied as a box of chocolates…”

What about me?

A holiday that celebrates love may feel exclusionary to those who are not “in love,” as well as to those who feel unloved or unsupported by the important people in their lives. With the spotlight on blissfully happy couples, those people in abusive or otherwise difficult relationships may feel especially overlooked. So how do we make this holiday more inclusive and less fraught for the myriad of people who are not in the kind of relationship that Geoffrey Chaucer could write a poem about?

Love is a many-splendored thing

The concept of “love” is more than just romantic love. Merriam-Webster defines love as “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion,” which applies equally to romantic love and the love between friends, between a parent and child, between a pet owner and their dog, or even between a college student and Insomnia cookies. A celebration of love should be as wide open as a hug and as varied as a box of chocolates, so let’s make this Valentine’s Day extra special and think outside the heart-shaped box.

Valentine variations

Here are some alternative ideas to make February 14th your own.

  • Spread the (platonic) love and do some random acts of kindness for others.
  • Volunteer to help those who need some love at the food bank, Interact, the Wake County Animal Center or the SPCA of Wake County.
  • Make cookies or cards to give to friends, teachers, the barista at Starbucks, or someone else on campus who has helped you out this year.
  • Love yourself with a vigorous workout, a meditation session, a good book, a long hot shower, or a soothing cup of tea­­––whatever feels good.
  • Honor and acknowledge your friends, acquaintances, or just random people on campus by making your own valentines and handing them out. Get some ideas for what to say here.

I’ll be there for you

Did you know that the counselors in the Counseling Center are available to talk with you about relationships as well as many other topics?   To schedule an appointment with a counselor, email counseling@peace.edu.

Also, on Thursday, February 14, from 10am-2pm the Wellness Center will hold a Day of Love celebration in the Auxiliary Gym.  There will be therapy dogs giving puppy love, chair massages for self-love, and a craft table set up where you can create your own valentines or expressions of love to spread the love! There will even be a short quiz that you can take to determine your personal “love language.”  We hope to see you there!

Whatever you do on February 14th, keep in mind that a day that celebrates “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion” with chocolate is not a bad thing. Whether or not you have a romantic partner, the point of Valentine’s Day is to embrace the idea of love in all its forms and to remember the word of Mahatma Ghandi, “where there is love, there is life.”

A Quote on love by dr. BrenÉ Brown

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare. ­”

Be sure to check back monthly for blog posts from WPU Health and Wellness, or search #WPUPeaceOfMind on social media for more content.