Valentine’s Day 2020 is coming up, and as an Intimacy Coach I wanted to weigh in.

Though I am not a fan of the commercial holiday, I like the idea of using February 14th as a loving kick in the pants to inspire us to take emotional risks. To try out saying what’s true, to admit our vulnerabilities and to reveal our insides more to the outside world.

“I need to admit that I have been witholding my love from you instead of asking for what I need”.

“I want to let you know how much you mean to me – so much that I often avoid saying it because I feel I can’t find the words”.

“I felt very impacted by this thing you did recently and I wanted to let you know how you’ve inspired me”.

These are a good start.

But why in the WORLD would you turn your insides out like this, you might ask. For sure it’s scary to open a little doorway to your heart and let people see someone more raw than the polished face you may feel more comfortable showing the world.

In my sense, one thing we are in dire need of in this country is empathy. The ability to imagine someone else’s experience with love, compassion and generosity. It is the opposite of “othering”, or relating to others by separating, judging and condemning.

From what I can tell, the practice of taking heart centered risks naturally cultivates empathy. Why? Because when we are feeling “out there” – exposed creatively or emotionally or socially – we naturally are in the presence of the reminder of how hard it is to be human. No way do we want others to judge us. So it is easier to stay forgiving because it’s what we most need.

I have recently been taking enormous risks in my leadership and creative output. In some cases, it’s been a home run! In other ways, I fell short of mine and others’ expectations. In the thick of it all, I feel poignantly reminded of how easy it is to make mistakes even despite my best intentions. How much I wish for forgiveness and empathy from others. And how vital it is to give the world the mercy, levity, support, and kindness I crave.

This Valentine’s week, I invite you to cultivate your well of empathy for others by “stepping into the arena”, as Teddy Roosevelt said, and taking some heartfelt risk.

Try admitting to someone where you misstepped and take full responsibility.

Consider sharing appreciation with someone who may not know you care.

Write a poem, sing a song and record it or otherwise make art that shows your heart and let others see and hear you.

If you are in Port Townsend, you might even consider attending my connection games nights at Madrona Mind/Body every Wednesday and growing the edge of your authentic relating skills even though it may be scary.

Vulnerability breeds empathy. And empathy heals.

Whoever you are and whatever your relationship status may be, if you chance to read this, my prayer for you is that your Valentine’s Week may be healing. And that you may remember your unique power to take heartfelt risks and in so doing, create the healing connection you most desire.