It's February: Got Self-Love?
(This article is appearing simultaneously in the Health Matters column of GreenStar Cooperative Market's February issue of GreenLeaf.)
February is the month we're bombarded with the joy of romantic love: sweetness and candles, chocolate and wine. If you're single, it's easy to drift into the illusion that all loneliness and frustration would be resolved by the relationship thing. If you're in a couple, it's easy to imagine you should be with someone else who's better at, or more , or less—something.
Why not take this month to get serious about your relationship with yourself? Have you committed yet? I'm not talking about taking yourself out to eat or treating yourself to a bubble bath (check out the magazines at the other store for that). I mean self-love that involves consistent kindness to yourself. I mean self-forgiveness applied not only in big moments of cutting loose some monster from the past, but through ongoing, daily, moment-to-moment practice. I mean refusing to tolerate self-talk that puts you down, refusing to lie in bed at night obsessing over what's not done, what wasn't done right, what you shouldn’t have said, what you'll never catch up to or make happen. By self-love, I mean supreme self-honoring.
How? You could begin by dropping your version of the perpetual negative self-talk people practice and think nothing of practicing daily. It's the air most people breathe. Sure, we could reach back and find something about mother, society, or other culprits, but as a personal-growth coach working outside of a therapy model, I focus on the present, on what people are doing right now that doesn't serve them — that in fact constitutes ongoing self-deprecation and -violation. (Please note that I'm a fan of good therapy and have benefited from it myself. It’s simply not my perspective here or in my coaching.) Most human beings, in short, tolerate a level of harassment from themselves that they'd be outraged to receive from another.
What if they didn't tolerate this? What if you didn't?
My wish for humanity is that everyone be struck by the absurdity of what they say to themselves that's all about what's wrong, imperfect, incomplete, unattractive, unimpressive, lacking in social grace or ease, a total failure, evidence of permanent “stuckness,” and on and on. Would you talk to a growing child this way? Would you talk to anyone this way?
You are an evolving being. Look for the evidence that you've grown, learned, improved, mellowed, blossomed. This could be your focus, or the lens you look through—and whatever lens you choose determines a whole lot about what you see and experience. When that lens is about shortcomings and failures, to put it mildly, you just won't be at your best.
What if you committed to no more negative self-talk? Let me get out my meditation metaphor. When you meditate, you don't sit down and clear your mind and sit in a space of gorgeous clarity for twenty minutes. Far from it. If your focus is the breath, you're bound to catch yourself off in a thought far away from the breath, in other places and times, even the future, maybe oceans away. So what? As soon as you catch yourself in a thought, you simply come back to the breath. Best not to beat yourself up — simply bring yourself back to the breath. Thus, for twenty minutes, you'll be in a constant process of catching yourself in a thought and coming back to the breath, catching yourself and coming back, catching yourself and coming back. This is valid meditation, and it actually does something. And eventually, you get better at it.
In the same way, should you decide to eradicate negative self-talk from your inner world, you won't clear it out once and for all with that decision. More likely, you'll catch yourself in negative self-talk and bring yourself back. If you're clear on the worth and efficacy of this process, and stay with it, it actually works. Don't give yourself another talking to about what a loser you are at giving up negative self-talk. Just bring yourself back.
As in romantic love, a good relationship with yourself can be cultivated in bed. Stay with me — this is rated G. When you're ready to sleep, notice the anxiety or frustration that accompanies letting go of a day. Notice the parade of images that call up dissatisfaction, or anything negative, right down to shame. This is the stuff not to tolerate. Will you consciously be kind to yourself instead? Will you deliberately forgive yourself for each thing your mind offers up as evidence of failed or not-enough? Will you systematically look for all you've handled well, all you feel good about? Connect to all that is love. What if you told yourself you're amazing and beautiful, your day is complete, it's all good enough, and isn't life sweet?
So it's the month of romance. Let me add that self-honoring is sexy. In or out of a relationship, you're more attractive when you love yourself. You're less needy; you don't look for reassurance or approval (you're getting these from yourself). You're more compassionate and accepting, better able to see the beloved for who he or she is right now, not through tired stories and negative lenses. We tend to give those we're close to whatever we give to ourselves, so that fault-finding and dissatisfaction toward the self often gets extended to the other. This doesn't promote thriving — neither for the individual nor the couple.
Would you like to thrive? Honor yourself. Talk to yourself like you're worthy of love. And when you catch yourself speaking unkindly to yourself, just bring yourself back — back to the reality of your magnificence, your beauty, your complete worthiness just because you're here in a human body. This is the love I wish you this month and every month. I invite you to it. I dare you.
Note that February 11 is the last day for the early-bird fee for my March 9-11 retreat on Supreme Self-Honoring at Light on the Hill in Van Etten, New York. Read about it on my website! Or scroll down.
Make Way for New Love, February 15,
7- 8:30 p.m. at GreenStar Cooperative Market (701 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca). Fee: $11 for GreenStar members, $13 for non-members. This will be a mini-workshop to open the way and make space for the relationship you want. We'll use a simple inquiry process called The Work of Byron Katie to question your habitual thoughts that keep away what you say you want. We'll also look at clear intentions (do you have them?) and whether your thoughts, language, choices, and actions line up with those intentions. Come prepared to take stock, question thoughts, get clear, and get moving. People of all gender identities and sexual preferences welcome. Register at the customer service desk at GreenStar or call (607) 273-9392. For more information, contact Jaya at jaya@jayathetrustcoach or (607) 339-9714.
Visioning 123, Saturday, February 18, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., downtown Ithaca. A hands-on push-back-your-sleeves workshop for women. When you have a clear vision and move steadfastly toward that vision with the conviction (trust!) that life fully supports you … Look out! There are spaces for 7 women only. Will you join us?
Workshop fee is $55, with a drawing for one $25 spot. Follow the link on name of event above to register.
Supreme Self-Honoring retreat for women, March 9-11, at beautiful Light on the Hill retreat center in Van Etten, New York. Who would you be if you treated yourself with the highest regard? Who would you be if you held and continually moved toward the highest vision of yourself? Join me in the intention to make this retreat deeply rejuvenating. Early-Bird fee till Feb 11. More information here.
Free Exploration Sessions
in their current evolution
I'm now offering free 60-minute sessions to people curious about coaching if and only if they fulfill a simple assignment before scheduling it, or between scheduling and meeting. You can see what that entails right here. I'm completely in love with this aspect of my work and still enjoy--in fact, enjoy more and more--the precious opportunity to sit with another human being, possibly for one time only, and offer something that truly has the potential to change his or her life. Because there's a limit to how many I can offer, I'm setting it up so I'm showing up fully for those who are also truly showing up.
My Ongoing Love Affair
Whodda thought? I resisted, resisted, resisted and now that I've got a professional page on Facebook, I can't get enough. It's such a cool way to offer daily tidbits to anyone who wants inspiration, encouragement, and (potentially) timely reminders. I get my posts out of current content in sessions with clients or whatever I'm dealing with personally. Topics include coming back to presence (as opposed to merely getting present), clearing negative self-talk, meeting every face as the face of God, tuning in to magic and synchronicity, self-trust and more trust, and . . . the fun never ends. Come visit anytime!