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There are innumerable forces that can influence our actions…and our inaction. A recent CBS news video referenced how Japanese men (and women) have historically been discouraged by unseen cultural forces from publicly expressing love.

We are told that most of the men in the video segment were uncomfortable even saying the L-word on Valentine’s Day. But each of them defied the messages of his culture, put his affection ahead of his fears, walked up to a microphone and shouted out his affection for his beloved. Some even received lessons on hugging—and why not? It was a beautiful thing—both the expression of love and the demonstration of courage.

For many of us with excessive social anxiety, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of how our fears have held us back. People with social anxiety are more likely to be single. Some like it that way, but many feel excluded by forces like fear of rejection and patterns of avoidance.

But if the influence of four thousand years of cultural caution can be overcome for love, maybe the influence of a couple of decades of self-protective personal caution can be overcome too. Maybe you will learn to face your fears and next Valentine’s Day will look different, with or without hug-training.