Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Shops are full of cards, chocolates and red roses. Many people embrace it and make a special effort to show love and affection to their nearest and dearest. For others, it is a time of loneliness, a stark reminder of not having someone special in their lives.

Some people are single by choice. Those who are not or who find themselves constantly in unhappy relationships may be experiencing low self-esteem. Sometimes, you may even find yourself feeling needy for love. This can hinder us from finding someone who truly loves and accepts us as we are. When this happens, boundaries have a tendency to disappear and relationships do not last, or become dysfunctional.

Real love

In order to experience real love, people need to start by learning to love themselves, warts and all. It’s easier to focus on the positive aspects of our personality, and sweep the negatives under the carpet, hoping they will go away.

It can be difficult to focus on your flaws, but when you learn to look at these with compassion rather than judgement, and take the necessary steps to improve them, your life will start to change for the better.

According to M Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled, “the truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

However, it is also important to be realistic and not go to the other end of the scale. If we are constantly criticising ourselves and putting ourselves down, we are never in a situation where we can accept true love and happiness into our lives.

We depend on others to make us feel happy. In healthy relationships, people can enhance our happiness, but we are not depending on them to make us feel that way.

Our thoughts create our experiences. If we are constantly putting ourselves down, feeling unworthy and unlovable, then that is exactly what we attract into our lives – people who make us feel unworthy, unlovable and who never show us respect.

Perceived flaws

To begin to love oneself unconditionally, a person needs to embrace all aspects of who they are. Yes, embrace the positive aspects and then look at the perceived flaws and embrace them also, take ownership of them. Issues such as anger, fear, resistance, and so much more, all stem from unresolved emotional issues that are bubbling away beneath the surface.

The healing starts once you acknowledge and take ownership of all aspects of your personality. Reach out for help if you find the going difficult on your own.

There are many steps that can be taken. The first is self-acceptance. I always encourage clients to forgive themselves for not being perfect. We all do the best we can each day. Look at set-backs as blessings in disguise as there are always valuable teachings to be had from them. Extract the lesson and keep moving forward with your life.

We all have a song in our heart. What is yours and when did you last sing it? When did you last express your creativity, or do something really nice for yourself? What is your self-care routine like? Does it need to be improved? Do you allow others to be kind to you or are you the one always giving of yourself? Love yourself enough to accept genuine kindness and caring from others. Love yourself enough to live a life where you are true to yourself.

When you get to a place of self-acceptance, you can open the way for genuine, kind, caring people to appear. Be mindful of your thoughts, and everything else will look after itself.

Change your thoughts

Learn to change your thoughts from, “I’m not good enough” to, “I am good enough”. The late Louise Hay offers many positive affirmations. One in particular that she urges people to use at least 300 times a day is, “I love and approve of myself”.

She also writes about how difficult it can be to initially start making those changes, but once we say we are “willing to change”, opportunities and people will come our way to support us on this aspect of our journey.

Start practicing loving kindness towards yourself. Loving kindness includes doing nice things for you.

Run a nice warm bubble bath with scented candles and nice music in the background. Go for a walk in nature. Buy yourself a little bouquet of flowers to enjoy and brighten up your home. Do not limit acts of loving kindness to one day of the year. Make it part of every day of your one precious life.

It requires effort, persistence and a strong desire to make positive change in our life but our thoughts create our reality.

Begin to change them right now. There are many books available that can guide and support you on your journey.


Rather than giving your attention to your current single status, start to visualise yourself in a happy, authentic loving relationship. Keep doing this every day. You are changing your thoughts. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before your current reality could change as well.

For those facing Valentine’s Day alone, I suggest you acknowledge your loneliness and any other negative emotions you may be feeling, but do not stay there. Instead, start to focus on gratitude and all that you do have going for you in your life.

Remember the words of Willie Nelson,“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Love yourself: books, podcasts and courses

5 Minute Therapy

Sarah Crosby aka ‘The Mind Geek’ on Instagram is a psychotherapist working in private practice in Dublin city centre. She is the author of the best-selling book – 5 Minute Therapy, available for €15.40, from

Dr Clodagh Campbell

In ‘Unspoken’ Dr Clodagh Campbell shares her expert advice to help break the shame and taboo that is holding people back from truly fulfilling life and finding inner peace. Listen to and find unlimited free resources on

Annie Lavin

Annie Lavin otherwise known as ‘The Relationship Coach’, has a background in psychology, counselling and coaching and has recently launched ‘The Get Ready to Date’ programme. Available as four-week self-study (with exclusive support from Annie), it promises to transform the way you have been dating, forever. This course is suitable for you if you are single and sick of going on dates that lead you nowhere. For more information, check out

Read more

Meet the Maker: Irish bog oak sculptor Eamonn Heffernan

Students graduate from innovative management development programme