Licensed Mental Health Counselor
In the midst of this flurry of Valentine’s activity: store shelves bulging with heart-shaped candy boxes, flowers being feverishly snatched up as soon as they’re restocked, desperate attempts to get just the right dinner reservation in order to communicate “specialness” to someone, my mind is boggled by the superficiality of such gestures, and I seek to embrace love in a broader, more genuine, less conventional manner. What is love? I’m glad you asked.
Love is a state of mind and of being…love is eternal…love is omnipresent…love is like oxygen! And love doesn’t require a partner to be beautiful and real. It starts with loving oneself. So often, we speak in the most unkind and unloving way to ourselves. We actually talk to ourselves more than we talk to anyone else and, no, that doesn’t mean schizophrenia. I’m referring to self-talk and inner dialogue.
Stop for a moment and think about what you’ve been saying to yourself today. Is the transcript full of put-downs, name calling and shaming? Would you speak to a friend or, for that matter, the cashier at Target like that? We can be our own worst enemy and that habit of negative self talk affects our confidence, our emotional state and even our physical health. Be your own Valentine and catch those unkind messages. Challenge your inner voice and soften the edges on those harsh judgments. Choose loving, supportive words: “I am disappointed in the outcome, but I did my best” or “I could’ve given a better response, and I’ll take time to choose my words in the future.” These are alternatives to, “I’m so stupid, why do I always screw up?” or “I’m always saying the wrong thing!”
Love is a compass, too. A lot of you may not know this, but we typically make decisions out of love or out of fear. We may not recognize fear when it’s disguised as comfort with a dysfunctional, yet familiar relationship, or when it masquerades as resistance to change jobs or move geographical locations. Comfort zone is, in reality, immobility due to fear. Love, on the other hand, doesn’t always feel comfortable because it suggests growth, change and taking action. Love is the decision to believe in yourself and go back to school for the career you’ve dreamed about, but that you thought was unattainable. Love is accepting that invitation to sing in your friend’s wedding, or clearing your schedule and taking that trip to Italy that you think you can’t afford. Taking the easy road is rarely the best route, and it usually involves fear. Tune in to your inner GPS and make LOVE your preferred route.
It’s sometimes hard to find love when most of what we see feels fearful and even hateful. Our culture is so divided, and seems to be becoming more so as we hear stories of terrorism, bigotry, sexual abuse and so many other atrocities. But we can still find and feel love through acts of simple kindness, connecting with nature, and otherwise grounding ourselves. The news stories are sensationalized to elicit a shocked response, but there are as many or more stories of triumph and connection, healing and reunion, rescue and safety. Be deliberate in what you allow yourself to focus on, and counterbalance the bad news with positive truths. It helps to have an affirmation like, “Although there is sadness in the world, I choose to be joyful and follow the light.”
Find love by opening your heart chakra. It’s located just where you’d think—at the center of your chest. When the heart chakra is blocked, we can feel defensive, critical, afraid and possessive. An open heart chakra encourages acceptance of others, compassion, and self-acceptance. The heart chakra’s color is green, so this color is pivotal in opening and inviting love. Visualize a strong, clear green light as energy that fills your heart center. Get outside where it’s green; connect with nature. Allow yourself to be loved and acknowledge that you are lovable. Practice yoga to open your heart chakra and balance all the chakras. And finally, give to others in a kind and loving way. The best way to feel love is to give of yourself and your time.
So it’s not all Cupid and hearts, chocolates and disappointing , overpriced dinners. Get yourself a box of conversation hearts—you know, those chalky candy hearts with kind of sappy messages on them. Don’t eat them—dear heavens, those things are poison—but pick out the ones that say “I love you”, “You’re perfect”, “Be mine” and make those phrases your tone and theme when talking to yourself and others. Be guided by love with an open heart chakra. Celebrate the love you have, in all its manifestations, for Valentine’s and always.
If you’ve lost your way and find it hard to love yourself because of depression, grief, anxiety or a life transition, the skilled therapists at Life Skills Resource Group are here to help you adjust your GPS. Call for a FREE phone consultation: (407)355-7378.