As we round the corner to mid-February, we are all inundated with messages about love. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I honestly can’t get enough of it. I fully enjoy every article, every meme, every picture on social media – even the corny commercials where couples rediscover magic in the eyes of one another over an unnecessary jewelry purchase. Just this morning, as I drank my coffee, a young man proposed to his girlfriend in New York City - right before my eyes, on national television. As I watched him get down on one knee, so sweetly declaring his love for her, I cried tears of joy. After all, nothing connects humanity like a great love story.
This year, though, there is a new dimension to my Valentine’s Day reflections, beyond such traditional stories of passionate romance. I have been thinking about all of the messages we get about love in context of my life coaching practice. When I consider the love stories that shape our lives, and think about what love means to the many different clients with whom I work, I am reminded of one very simple lesson that I have learned from those who have had the most success in this area – that of cultivating our relationships with ourselves first, in order to fully open our hearts to others.
Wait, you say…..self first? Before others? Okay, so maybe it sounds a little selfish, but think about it for a moment.
Have you ever attended a yoga class, where you can visibly see a sense of peace and self-worth transcend every human spirit in the room, and then notice how those yogis lovingly approach the people around them afterward?
Have you ever been around someone who confidently follows his dreams, no matter what obstacles seem to be in his way? And just how much joy he is able to share with the world around him as a result of feeling happy with his own track in life?
Did you ever notice what happens when your child feels totally on top of her game? When she can take the extraordinary energy that she feels inside of her to brighten up your life with a sincere smile or warm hug?
All of these situations have one thing in common: when people feel centered, confident and capable, truly feeling love for themselves, they have more joy and kindness (aka, love) to share with the rest of the world.
By honoring the self, it seems like there is limitless potential to love others freely and deeply. From my experience, it seems that if we all cultivated the most important relationship we have first – the one with our own spirit - we would create the very energy that brightens the world around us – the energy that defines the experience of love. If we love ourselves first, we can show love to our spouses, our children, our siblings and parents, our colleagues, friends, neighbors – even the perfect strangers who cross paths with us. It seems to me that the love we feel within can shine in so many exciting ways, and reach countless people. As long as we first have a solid foundation of self-love.
So, this Valentine’s Day, I hope we can all learn to love ourselves a little more, knowing that it will create the foundation we need to radiate more love to the rest of the world. So give yourself permission to get out there and do something that makes you feel the kind of self-love that will no doubt illuminate the lives of those around you. Because, ultimately, it is love that makes us feel ALIVE.
Marybeth Cale is a life coach and executive coach who works with clients to promote greater success, purpose, passion and satisfaction in business, life and love. Call 845.876.2220 for free coaching strategy session.
Copyright 2015, Cale Communications: All Rights Reserved.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, a holiday all about gratitude. Despite the fact that many of us are focused on entertaining extended family and kicking off the holiday season, if we’re wise, we may want to take pause and consider what this time of year, and the concept of gratitude, might mean for our love lives.
After all, the weeks that lie ahead will be full of countless people and activities - it’s festive and fun to go out as a couple, so naturally, we must be doing right by him or her, right? Sure, on some level, we probably are – we are enjoying a variety of people and parties, and usually doing so together. We talk about feeling thankful for our health, our security, and our families – but are we actually SHOWING how thankful we are for the person who carries us through our darkest hours, and celebrates with us when happy times come along?
Maybe so, on some level. But we can always do more, can’t we?
And guess what? Expressing our gratitude more frequently and with greater fervor will breed deeper connectedness, ultimately leading to more romance and passion! Now, tell me, who doesn’t want a little (or a lot) more of those great wonders of the world?!
So let’s brainstorm a few ways to express our thanks to those we love. It’s a win-win for both of you.
1. Take a good look at your spouse as a whole, competent, wonderful human being, but look at him or her as an outsider might. What are his or her best qualities? What do others always recognize in him or her as inspirational, exciting, caring, or unique? Reflect. Repeat. Reflect. Repeat. Remind yourself of who he or she is as an INDIVIDUAL – NOT in context of your relationship or your life together, but as a stand-alone human being who has special gifts and characteristics that are somehow making a beautiful impact on the world. Next time you see your spouse, verbally share a few of those reflections. I bet he or she will smile ear to ear.
2. Along the lines of number 1, think about how you can honor your spouse’s individuality. What is it that he or she loves to do? With whom does he or she like to spend time? When does he or she seem to feel most alive? Figure out a way to get your one and only out for a day (or a weekend) which incorporates those people and/or activities that most revitalize him or her. Plan it out, make it happen, and leave yourself out of the itinerary. Let it be a selfless expression of true love, and simply say, “I am so grateful for who you are; I want you to go enjoy a special day and know how much I cherish you.”
3. Craft a love letter to capture the memory of a special date, or to reflect on what’s happening in the here and now, or to share a dream for the future. Yes – a real, authentic, bona fide, sweet love letter. Buy an exquisite blank card. Use your best penmanship. Okay, sure – go ahead and give it a spray of your perfume/cologne if you wish! A love letter seems to be a lost art form in many homes these days – make it your goal to resurrect it! The texts you send will not end up in the memory box, nor will they make their way to the next generation. They will float away into cyberspace. But love letters – they have wow factor and the capacity to last. They are one of the most romantic ways to share your heart and bring joy to the person who gets to hold it in their hands, and read it, perhaps over and over again, as long as you both shall live. Old-fashioned communication is timeless, classic, and unfailing in its capacity to stir up some excitement. No pressure – you can keep it super-simple. It’s the idea that you wrote something down for your love that counts.
4. How about a playlist? I finally learned how to use technology to do this, and it is seriously amazing. From the early 20th century tunes to the modern-day love songs, you can share your messages through the melodies and voices of your customized playlist. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to a playlist of love songs – you can’t go wrong; all of them evoke emotion.
5. And here’s the most important thing we can all do every day, all year long. Just say “thank you” in the evening, just once will do. For something. Anything. Even if we are mad for some petty reason that we will most likely not even remember next year. Take the hand of your spouse, squeeze it, look deeply into his or her eyes, and say, “Thank you for……” (insert anything! Anything at all! It doesn’t take much to make someone feel appreciated.)
I have heard that it takes, on average, about 30 days to make something a habit that will stick. My guess is that 30 days after you start showing gratitude to your spouse, your relationship will be infused with the magic we all feel when we first fall madly in love. Passion, fireworks, romance – all of it can most likely be yours again, with a little gratitude every day.
And that’s a pretty awesome return on investment.