Self-Love and Self-Directed Kindness

A Letter to You on Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, and you might be feeling particularly crummy. If you are, this letter is especially for you. But even if you are not, this letter is still for you.

There is a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day to have or to be the perfect partner and to have a perfect life filled with flowers, romantic dinners, and sparkly gifts. If we are alone on Valentine’s Day these expectations often leave us feeling hollow and filled with a sense of severe inadequacy or shame.

If we are with someone on Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s day pressure can push us to compare our lives with  some lofty ideal and to find our current situation wanting. It is no wonder so many people hate Valentine’s Day.

On this day that makes many people feel crummier than most days of the year, I want to tell you that 1) you are beautiful; 2) that there is nothing wrong with you; and that 3) you do not have to be anything other than you are right now.

If you are like me in the past, those three statements probably strike you as naïve and insincere, but I sincerely believe they are true, and here is why.

You are beautiful because the truest and most real part of you is powerfully wise, creative, compassionate and full of solutions. I know that you have days, weeks, and even years of your life that are far from perfect. If you are like most people, you have done things in your life that you knew were wrong or later figured out were very misguided. You wish you could take them back.

I know this about you. I know this about me.

These things are not the innermost truth about you. These are things you did when you acted out of fear, anger, ignorance, immaturity, and the misguided attempt to get the love you needed. You must be honest about these things, and you need to make amends for them, but you also need to remember who you really are.

Who you are at your core is a person with a powerful light. You might call this light your power of compassion and wisdom, your Buddha nature, or the image of God in you.

Love is Stronger Logo

This light of yours can never be lost, and it is always waiting for you to remember and befriend it. The more you spend time with your light through contemplative practices like silence, prayer, meditation, reflection, and loving action, the more beautiful, wise, creative, and compassionate you become.

When this happens, you stop acting out of fear, anger, and ignorance, and you stop doing harmful things in a misguided attempt to get love. Where you are right now is an invitation for you to consider whether you are remembering or forgetting your light.

Self-Pledge #1

So you do not have to be anything other than who you are right now. There is no such thing as perfect. There is only all of us living our life with high points and low points. If things are going really well for you right now, this is an invitation for you to remember your beautiful light. If things are going really poorly for you right now, this is an invitation for you to remember your beautiful light.

This is the only life you have to live, and there is no judgment, just compassion–a compassion that comes from knowing that life is often confusing and painful, and we are all doing our best to find the light we often forget or think we have lost.

And if you are feeling very lonely and bereft of love this Valentine’s Day, I am so sorry. That is a painful feeling. But I have good news. All over the world, the love in other people is seeking the love in you.


You don’t have to understand love, and you don’t have to know how it works. You just need to be willing.

One way I practice willingness is to ask myself, “How can I show love to myself?”, “How can I show love to people around me?” When we are sincerely willing, we soon figure out how to express love more freely in our lives.

Expressing love is one of the most powerful ways we honor the light in us, and it makes it much easier for the love in other people to find us. I cannot tell you how this love will work in your life, but I can tell you that it will be powerful and change you in ways you never expected.

I wish you all the peace and love in the world today. Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends.


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