Sunday, 14 February 2016
"Valentine's Day Love Letter"
Valentine's Day for me is never about romantic love. It's about love. Period. Sure, when I was in my twenties and had some tumultuous, passionate relationships (oh, young love!) it was about my boyfriends at the time. One year I received a beautiful bouquet of roses. A few days later I got dumped. Hmm. Kind of makes the roses loses their luster, doesn't it? It also works wonders for a young woman's self esteem. But that is another post (and probably a therapy session or two...). The older that I have gotten, the more I have moved away from the Hallmark card ideal of what Valentine's Day 'should be'.
My maternal grandmother was a very sweet, generous, loving woman. She taught me, very early in my life, the power of a small, thoughtful gesture. She would make your favourite cookies when you came for a visit (for the record, homemade sour cream cookies stored in a plastic ice cream tub), send you an Easter package with lollipops and an inflatable bunny rabbit in the mail, and cut up an apple just how you liked it. She would tell me, on a regular basis, that she adored me. She was very special. And, just like the rest of us, she also had a challenging life at times. When I reflect on how my grandma lived her life, I see that she cultivated a practice of gratitude and shared her love freely. Was that conscious? I have no idea. Did she wear rose-coloured glasses at times? Absolutely. But she certainly held the key to moving through life with grace.
My focus these days is on creating a nurturing, loving world in which to live. As I have become much more intentional about recognizing all that I am grateful for in my life, I have reaped some pretty fabulous benefits. When you view your glass as half full, you shift how the world appears to you. It changes the energy around you. A horrible day becomes just one day out of so many full of promise; with gratitude comes perspective.
If I think back over the past two decades of depression and anxiety, I have to say that the most impactful thing that I have done has been to change my attitude. Simple yet hard. I had a choice to either let mental illness rule the roost or I could take control of the things that were in my power. Identifying negative thoughts and patterns was a big part of that.
A friend at work pulled me aside the other day when she was having a moment of anger towards herself. She had eaten something unhealthy and was feeling both physically and mentally bad about it. My response: it's OK - you are a human being. Don't be harder on yourself than you would be on a friend. I love that she said how she was feeling. She recognized the negative impact that this was having on her and, I hope, was able to let it go. As the world-wise Taylor Swift sings, "Shake it off!"
This might seem like a small thing - eating some junk food and feeling bad about it. But our beliefs and thoughts hold great power over us. The good news is that we can rewire our brains. Start by spending just a day really listening to your inner dialogue. How many times do you tell yourself that you are dumb for making that mistake or too fat to wear those pants? How often do you berate yourself for saying that 'stupid' thing in conversation at work? You do it. I do it, too. But I do it a lot less frequently than I used to. It's usually when I am tired and feeling less than resilient. Gratitude, awareness and perspective have helped me move along this path towards self-love. My daily life is much nicer, as a result.
"Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know that so it goes on flying anyway." ~ Mary Kay Ash
On this Valentine's Day my wish for you is a life full of love and self-acceptance. Believe the best in yourself. You ARE good enough. You are capable of great, wonderful things. Be your best friend, your own personal cheerleader. Be that bumblebee and fly!
P.S. Here are some great reminders and ways to love yourself!
Check out the fabulous list of things that self-loving people do differently via MindBodyGreen
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