Are you spending this Valentine’s Day alone? We hope you take heart in the knowledge that most of us have spent a Valentine’s Day evening - or two or more - by ourselves. Maybe we moped about it - or worse - gone out and done something we regret like awoken with a hangover next to a complete stranger. Perhaps we stayed home, curled into a ball on the couch with a box of tissues, eating ice cream and watching An Affair to Remember or Titanic for the umpti-ninth time. Maybe we played video games with strangers well into February 15th, or surfed the Net for other lonely hearts. For many, loneliness is a singular experience. But the strange thing is: You don’t have to be by yourself to feel lonely…
Solitude versus Loneliness
Sometimes solitude can feel peaceful and calm and at other times it can feel overwhelming with loneliness. Being lonely is even worse if we feel lonesome when we are with others. This paradox can happen when we feel like people around us don’t understand us or don’t really care about us. We can feel isolated and alone in a room full of people, trapped in our mind. This may be hard to believe – but feeling lonely is a choice and to a large degree, our attitude depends on how we view our personal time perspective. If we are stuck in all the bad experiences, mistakes and missed opportunities of the past – we are stuck in our past negatives. This, in turn, makes us feel hopeless in the now - present fatalistic. This one-two punch is a recipe for depression. But it is time for you to land an upper cut to that old foe so it knows there is a new You to contend with.
Change it Up
This Valentine’s Day, if you are without a partner, why not make the most of it. Instead of thinking “Woe is me!”, be your own Special Someone. After all, who knows your favorite food, your favorite color, whether or not you like dark, milk or white chocolate, what you’re allergic to, which side of the bed you prefer and whether or not you snore? You do! Nobody knows you as well as you. So this Valentine’s Day, do something special – enjoy Yourself more fully than you usually do, and practice a little present hedonism.
One antidote to loneliness and depression is being pro-social. When we are around others and engaged in conversation and activities, we are less likely to focus on ourselves and our problems. Phil’s Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) encourages all those who are Heroes-in-Training to be less egotistical and more socio-centric. Translated into action that means always focus on others in all situations you enter. Ask: What can I do to make someone feel “special” today, to make eye contact, learn and use his or her name to individuate them, and give justifiable compliments that create smiles in those blessed by your attention. A side benefit is other folks will want to be around YOU. Here are a few suggestions as to how to practice selected present hedonism:
• Hang out with friends– call your single friends and ask if they’d like to join you for dinner, a drink, a movie, a mani-pedi or some window shopping. Or invite them over (or yourself over) for pot luck and board, card or video games.
• Stop Light Party – get invited to (or crash) one of these parties where people who are in a relationship wear red, people who are not committed wear yellow and single people wear green. If no one is giving one, is it feasible for you and a few friends to throw it?
• Visit family – see what family members are up to and if appropriate, join them in whatever it is.
Not Feeling Pro-Social? Treat Yourself with Kindness
If you just don’t feel like being around others and need or want to spend the evening alone, here are a few selected present hedonistic activities:
• Buy yourself flowers – take time to enjoy the color and fragrance of each blossom.
• Get some quality chocolates – make them last by eating them slowly and relishing the flavors.
• Prepare yourself a special meal or get your favorite take out – use your best dinnerware and savor every bite.
• Watch a special movie – preferably something like a light-hearted comedy - not a downer. Make some popcorn and sprinkle it with a little fun, like your favorite cheese, nuts or mini-candies.
We wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day…the best is yet to come! It is time to start paving your future pathway with brilliant rainbow colors!
Visit our website, www.timecure.com, to view a free 20 minute video - The River of Time; you’ll learn self- soothing techniques as well as how to let go of past negatives, work towards a brighter future, and live in a more compassionate present.
See The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword & Sword, 2012, Wiley Publishing); for strategies to reduce stress and improve communication, visit www.timecure.com and www.lifehut.com. Also see Phil’s www.HeroicImagination.org