Monday, February 1, 2016

Valentine Validation: The Love Designs

I remember Valentine’s season in elementary school. I would always look forward to decorating my Valentine’s box. You know, the one that started with the leftover shoe box.

When you were in kindergarten it seemed to be a contest of the kindergarten moms more than the kids to see who had the cutest one (I seriously think that very thing started the evolution that ended in what we now refer to as Pinterest). By the time we got to the fourth grade it was half the moms’ competition and half "Oh just throw something together!” By fifth grade the teacher is doing them in class just to get us to participate and by sixth grade it was a required assignment—some of them even showing up with tin foil around a box with a heart on it; frantically put together in kitchen the night before or even the morning of. For me though, it was a fun thing regardless of the year.

The real magic of the box, though, was bringing it home and running to your room as fast as you could to open it up and see what romantic surprises were inside (Ok, mostly we just wanted to see which ones had candy in them). I, however, was a little different. I would run in, dump them on the floor, and excitedly search to see if there was that one thing I thought would be the measurement of whether it was going to be a good Valentine’s Day or just another day: the conversation hearts.

Every year, there they seemed to be. It wasn't the taste I craved, it was what was on it. If I related to the messages I read, somehow I felt like I would be validated in some way. Phrases like, "cutie pie," or “hug me,” “kiss me,” “be mine”…It seemed like whatever was on those hearts that someone had carefully dropped in my valentine envelope (the ones you can lick all day long and they still won’t seal!) was somehow a message from the universe to me as an indicator of how my Valentine’s Day was going to be defined. Sometimes I would even think that they would even be able to describe how much I was loved that day or even on rare occasions my youth made me think that that one heart had the power to validate my day and the kind of person I was.

Well, they didn't of course, but I do think the people who created those Conversation Hearts were on to something. It wasn't the heart or the message as much as it was that the messages that I got in my envelope really appealed to the way I like receiving expressions of love. In other words, those messages or gifts are said or done in a way that speaks to my authentic self and are in line with the way I truly need to love myself. At Human Art we call it your "Love Design."

When we talk about our “Love Design,” it is not so much the way others give it, but in the way you receive it. Here is an example: My husband, Rod, is Blackened. He is a “get ‘r done” kind of guy. He knows part of my love design is being surprised. He has a habit of sending flowers on special occasions (which I can’t even tell you how much I love that), but he also tries to incorporate that surprise element (and does it so well) because he knows I love that also. He hits the mark so much because he tries to get outside of himself to make it an experience that I would love.

It’s perfect, but even after all these years that “get ‘r done” guy shows up. He just can’t stop himself from buying me something practical like a hammer. When this happens, I might be a little disappointed by the “romance” part of it, while at the same time greatly appreciating the gesture part of it.

The gesture part of it. If we are emotionally healthy and understand intimacy we will get it. In this situation, I would extract any evidence of my “Love Design” being present in the gesture and be grateful for it. I could have latched on to the disappointment in the lack of romance, but instead I found my “Love Design” in how I received it; such as being "surprised" at how much he paid attention to what was broken or needed in the house. What was “broken” is that every time I designed something and wanted to hang it I couldn’t find a hammer and would get so frustrated. This would happen day after day that particular year (you would think after a few times I would remember to get a hammer, but for whatever reason I wouldn't). I was able to feel genuine surprise in the gesture that he paid attention to me day after day; and that was romantic. Not in a flowers and new pretty shoes way, but in a "someone is observant and watching after me” way. So just like I was looking for in the conversation hearts, the message in that hammer gift could validate me and make me feel loved, because I was able to extract my “love design” from his gesture to feel loved in the way I feel it best.

It is what I was searching for in the candy hearts all over again, but this time I know it is not the universe validating me it is myself accepting intimacy and romance from someone who is truly trying to show me. How I feel about it is determined by what evidence I am seeking when I receive it. It is also true that though I found romance in the gesture, I love the flower and pretty new shoe years better! It’s like getting the coveted "I Love You" conversation heart and it’s pink!!!

So this year on Valentine’s Day, recognize it as a two way street. First we try our best to give our valentine (whether it be husband, wife, mother, friend, children, etc.) a gift that is truly in their “Love Design”, and second we make sure we are accepting our valentine expressions from others by finding our “Love Design” in the gesture.

The Love Designs

Saturated: "Wine and Dine"
Hit the mark. The mark is determined by what they deem quality. Whether it be a diamond or time spent with them, that is their quality. Let them deem it, then you quietly provide it without drawing a lot of attention to them. Hit that mark. Let them sneak away and quietly enjoy it. They love when you simply leave it somewhere for them to discover it alone and to take it in with no one watching.

Whitened: “Surprise Party”
Watch them all year and anticipate their needs. Listen to what they say they love, then surprise them with it. They will love it. They are social, so the more friends and loved ones you involve the better. Also the more polka dots the better!  

Grayed: "Romancing the Details"
Think thoroughly before you decide what to do for them. Listen to the details of what makes them truly feel heard. Then don't rush the process. Point out every detail— the more details the better. Then deliver your Valentine expression to them through a process. Explain the story of how you arrived at that expression. Bring them along in the process, it will be more fulfilling to them. Abrupt starts and stops to the experience make it less fulfilling and romantic. They love when you lean into the process with them.

Blackened: “Check it Off”
Just take their to do list, their responsibilities, or whatever needs to get done and do as task for them. It is the best for them. Seriously, take out the garbage or paint a wall. Lift their load by doing a project they need to get done. It is the most romantic thing that you could do for them. The important part is to tell them which task you did and why you did it for them. If you don’t say anything, waiting for them to notice, it just becomes one more thing on their list that they have to do when they have to tell you that they noticed what you did.


Think of it as if we have moved into a grown up version of conversation hearts. When we get the one that resonates with our authentic self it just feels more romantic. Isn’t that the point of Valentine’s Day in the first place? We all want to feel accepted for who we are. We have an innate desire to be loved for who we really are. We have a need to be celebrated for the person we are. We all need a Valentine. It can be a partner, it can be a parent, it can be a friend, it can even be a coworker. It can even come from inside and be from yourself. It is important who it comes from but it is most important to love yourself enough to accept the validation when it comes. Remember, everyone is a masterpiece.

No comments:

Post a Comment