If your feelings are your guide to better decisions, a brighter attitude, gratitude,and a happier life then you need to really learn to hone into one feeling, love.
Love is your guide to take care of yourself and love yourself. Love gives you your sense of self-worth and the value of those around you. Love helps you approach and deal with conflict in a positive way. Love guides you through both major and minor life choices.
When love is so powerful, how is it so easy to suppress its messages to us? Rather than focusing on love, we often choose to focus on fear; fear of loss, fear of being late, fear of suffering. The fear speaks louder than love and before we know it we feel stressed out and exhausted. We spend all our energy guarding ourselves from the things we fear, when the entire time we could be releasing ourselves from stress by following our bliss and joy.
Do you have feelings of joy and bliss, impatience and crankiness, stress and peace? I know I do. Life feels easy and good when I'm enjoying blissful and joyful
feelings and emotions, but I feel taxed and stressed when my emotions are negative or conflicted. I notice that I become indecisive about what decisions to make.
I've spent many years forcing myself to make decisions that my head agreed with versus my heart. It's hard to make decisions guided by your heart when you can't put your finger on what it is exactly that you are feeling. When I can't articulate what I'm thinking and feeling, I just end up feeling cranky and frustrated instead.
Last time, we looked at how we may love another person best through letting that person go and giving your friend space. People often take the space and time to heal and grow. If you let the person go, he or she may return to your life, but the only way to know is if you do, in fact, release them from your life your mind and your heart.
This time, I want to explore a similar concept from a different perspective. I want to explore how sometimes loving yourself (rather than loving the other person) can mean letting the other person go.
We've all had toxic relationships come though our lives from time to time, and that toxicity can be death to your self-love, self-esteem, self-worth and even your life in some extreme instances.
Why do we even choose to remain in toxic relationships? Do we feel that having the person in our life is better than not having him or her? Are we afraid of being alone or facing ourselves after removing the distraction from our lives? Do we become so preoccupied with helping the toxic person that we forget about our bad feelings and ourselves? Or, are we afraid of actually facing the conflict of telling another person to leave your life? I think the final option is mine because I am always working on growing to be more comfortable with conflict.
Well, that's not love. It's not love from another, even if you sometimes feel good with that person, and it is certainly not loving yourself to subject yourself to disrespect, stress, and anything that makes you feel less than your best.
If you are clear about what you want to create in the relationships in your life, you can align each relationship with what you are looking to give and receive from them. Then you can make a logical decision (not just an emotional decision) about what you can tolerate or not. If there are huge gaps in your wants list and reality that you cannot work though, then that's a big clue to turn away and move on. There is a difference between being patient and tolerant, after all.
I have some relationships that have gone away and returned. Then, there are others that go away never to return.
Letting go can be very hard. It is sad to lose a friend. You often lose having your love tank filled in many areas like quality time and physical touch. Having those things one day and not the next can be very challenging, but if you use the pain as an opportunity to learn and grow, then it can be quite beautiful in the end.
I encourage you to make the choice to love yourself when you need to, even if it is hard, because you can!
Have you ever heard the story about the little boy who loved his teddy bear so much that he squeezed and squeezed it until it actually fell into pieces and ceased being a
teddy bear? The bear is eventually reassembled full of patches and scars that make him a better bear because he is assembled out of love. This little parable offers a metaphor for life, and I want to focus on the part where the boy literally squeezes the bear to death.
I know I have a very big heart, and I love to shower my friends with love and caring. One lesson I've learned recently is that you can't force another person into a better state-of-mind just by being kind to that person. Love and compassion are well intended, but they do not necessarily facilitate a positive outcome for everyone. You can't control another person's reactions and responses to you just by being nice. I can desire all day long that someone I care about is feeling better and not hurting. I can pray for that person and envision your riend in a better emotional state. I can do many things for my friend, when in the end, my friend just needs time and space to process emotions. I think we've all been through times where aloneness is the most precious company to keep.
Although love traditionally means thoughtfulness and caring, sometimes it can equal space and letting go. Giving another person the space and bandwidth needed to work though an emotional situation can be the best way to love that person.
That is a challenging perspective for me to understand because when I was sick and in the hospital once, the thoughtfulness and caring of my friends got me through it all. At the same time, I had a number of friends who disappeared during my hardship. That felt like being abandoned or punched in the stomach. As a result, I vowed to never let a friend go when he or she is suffering, but as I learned, in some cases, space and distance is, in fact the best gift you can give your friend.
You must take it on a case-by-case basis and evaluate the situation with thoughtfulness and caring. Ask people how you can best support them and figure out if it within your capacity to do so. If love does in fact equal letting a person go, it will end up being the only way to know if you have a real friend or not. If the person is really your friend, he or she will return to your life when the pain is gone. If not, you are both free to make new friends and be happy however that manifests in your life.
Although I still find it hard to say and believe, sometimes love equals letting go. Learn how to love your friends in the way they need it because you can!
I've been keeping this story somewhat of a secret to most of the people I encounter in every day life. For far too long, I listened to voices of fear that I would be judged for it rather than my listening to my true voice that is is
worth sharing. Although you can treat this story and more in my book, Views from the 13th Floor, it is time to share it with the world. My story follows.
One fall morning, only a few weeks following the
devastation we now call 9-11, the piercing sound of my alarm jolted me into
reality. Just five more minutes, I
thought to myself as I rolled over and commenced the internal battle to
convince myself to get out of bed.
I struggled to get out of my warm covers, knowing if I didn’t that I’d
be late to drama class. The morning was calm and cool as the first crisp days
of fall began to hit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I opened my eyes and did a quick
glance about the room. The walls
were white and reflecting the rising sun through the large paned windows
welcoming the new day. My
roommate was curled in a ball beneath her covers in her twin bed on the other
side of our shared room. She was
lucky to still be sleeping. The
old splintered hard wood floors of a deep mahogany hue that nursed the growing
dust bunnies beneath our beds beckoned my lazy feet. I gathered my strength, then threw the covers back and sat
up. It was a Friday and the day
before my mom’s birthday. I had been a little disappointed in myself because I
didn’t make the time to get her something and mail it to her. I really wanted to get her a birthday
present and show her how much I love her.
I stumbled across the less than
smooth hardwoods to our tiny white porcelain tiled bathroom. I commenced my morning routine of
brushing my teeth and washing my face. I was thinking about having to walk across campus or maybe even run,
because I was going to be late when there was a sudden POP, and I had the
instantaneous worst headache of my life hit me like a tiny explosion with deep
impact on the right side of my head behind my right eye.
The first step to manifesting your dreams and desires is to get clear about what you want. Think about it, feel it, and most importantly write it down. There is something so powerful in putting pen to paper when getting clear about your desires. You can type it up on your computer if that is easier. Mostly, put your wants down and be as specific as possible.
If you find you've been aiming without direction in your career, sit down and write what you'd like to see happen in your career. Do you want a raise? Do you want a
promotion? Do you wish to increase your responsibility on your current project or switch to a different project or company? Whatever it is, get clear about it and write it down.
The first thing to remember about being clear about what you want is that you should be honest with yourself about what you want. Your wants are your desires, and you can make them whatever you want them to be no matter how far out they may seem. If you want it and desire it, put it down and feel it as if it has already happened.
My mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, taught me early on to be true to myself. I've probably spent every day since then trying to discover my true self. I think you continue to discover it a little bit every day for your entire life. I've learned it doesn't mean be selfish. It means listening to the inner voice guiding you and honoring that voice. Listening to your inner voice is a challenging enough practice when producing your own words, thoughts and actions, but what about when you are reacting to others' words and actions? How do you honor and respect your true self in those instances?
First, you must slow down enough to acknowledge the other person's behavior. Sometimes others make you feel great and other times they make you feel down right awful about yourself. I know people have treated me with enough disrespect that it has caused me to doubt my own value. Life's hard enough without having to manifest a positive attitude after interacting with others. That's why I love Lady Bird Johnson's quote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Second, if the other person is making you feel bad and you understand why, do something about it. I'm not saying be mean, turn away from the negativity orseparate yourself when people don't treat you well. You should most certainly address conflict as quickly as possible, honor and process your emotions, and work on the important relationships in your life. If a relationship/friendship is in the early stages and someone consistently dishonors you and doesn't hold you in high esteem, then that person is likely not someone you want to invest too much time with in developing a friendship.
Thirdly, understand and respect yourself, your value and your worth. That doesn't mean go about haughtily demanding to be treated like royalty. It does mean having an attitude of humility and modesty with wise judgment of yours and others' behavior. It is ok to stand up woith yourself and love yourself enough to walk away from disrespect. I don't have to do it ofte, but every time I do, I feel empowered and freed from self-imposed oppression.
Finally, surround yourself with a positive environment as much as you can. That doesn't mean you won't have a bad day or argument every now and then. It does mean that over the long haul you have reinforced yourself with like-minded people to encourage you on your journey in life. For more tips and nuggets of wisdom from me and my mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, please read my book, Views from the 13th Floor. Respect yourself because you can!
For the majority of my life, I believed that loving yourself meant you were vain. I thought it meant you didn't care about other people, were self-centered and stuck
up. As a result I went around being a push over, suffering and sacrificing myself at any opportunity because I thought that equaled being a good person. In the end, nothing was left but a spent person who didn't know how to love herself much less anyone else.
After years of talking to my mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, about being true to myself, I took baby steps to learning what that meant for me. For the last year I've been on a beautiful path of self-discovery and self-love. There have been and will continue to be a progression in the steps to learning self-love.