February = Valentine’s Day.

That’s what most people think when they think of the month and how could they not? The shops are full of cards and chocolates and all things heart shaped (so much so that people barely even mention pancake day, which I think ranks much higher!)

It’s a lovely idea that we single out a special day to tell our partners what they mean to us and celebrate with a meal or a gift. However, Valentine’s Day can be a real emotional rollercoaster. For single people it can be a reminder of what they don’t have. For those in unhappy relationships, it can highlight everything that’s wrong. I myself have been in both those positions at different times and I know that the emotions that get brought up by such events can be overwhelming.

I used to wonder if I was good enough, if I was worthy of love and if I’d ever find it.

Valentine’s is such a triggering time that anti-valentine’s is now a trending concept – with anti-valentine’s parties for singles, and even anti-valentine’s cards to give o platonic friends.

It’s a great idea in principal: take the focus off couples alone and reclaim the day; but it has such negative connotations.

I have a better idea – how about making Valentine ’s Day about learning to love ourselves as much as we love others?

The ability to love and accept yourself without judgement is an incredibly important step towards happiness inside and out.

In my blog on Mindset I spoke about every journey beginning with the decision to change, and how important it is to approach change positively. I’d like to expand on that now by saying that that positivity needs to be framed around self-acceptance.

We may think we’re being positive, but if our desire to change is rooted in self-loathing then we will never achieve anything. We say things like: “I’m determined to get plenty of healthy exercise because it makes me feel good … and because I don’t look like the women in the magazines” or “I’m going to get organised with my work life balance to give me more free time … and because other women seem more successful than me”

So often there’s a little voice at the back of our heads telling us that we’d be happier if we were more like others and frankly, this is the voice of our destruction.

In the 21st century we are more susceptible than ever to this sort of pressure. Women are expected to have it all, do it all, and look fantastic throughout. For example, I am a big fan of Instagram. It helps me reach out to my clients and keep up with my friends, and it can be very inspiring; but it’s so easy to fall into the habit of comparing myself to other people on there and I’m very conscious to tackle those feelings immediately if and when they arise.

At the end of the day, life isn’t photo shopped, and the models you see on Instagram don’t look like that in real life. I don’t edit or filter my photos, but even I make sure that my business posts are accompanied by professional, bright, lovely images because I’m trying to convey how good life can be. That doesn’t mean however that I don’t have bad hair days or skin breakouts, but you know what? I’m ok with that. I’ve accepted my limitations, but more importantly I’ve learned to love my imperfections: the little lines around my eyes that let you know I’ve laughed, the stretch marks on my belly that pay homage to my beautiful children. Every part of me is essential in creating ME, and I am wonderful!

And the secret is… so are you. You are strong, even if you don’t always believe it. You have survived even if you didn’t always think you would. You have made a difference in world by being you and you should celebrate that every day.

So when you’re ready to make a big change in your life, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons: eat well and exercise, not so you can look like other people, but so you can be the best and healthiest you. Meditate, organise and follow your dreams, not so that you can prove something to others, but so that you can be happy no matter what tomorrow brings.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you, dear reader, are beautiful. Now it’s time for you to start agreeing with me!