Let love be your secret power

izumi-jones-1314259-unsplash700x400sm.jpg

I hope your new year is off to a great start. For many, January was a time for making resolutions. If you set goals for the year, this is a good time to check in and take stock of how things are going.

If you are committed — and are taking consistent action — to the exercise you want to do more of, or the decluttering you set out to tackle, the job search you decided to initiate, or any other objective you have to make this a great year, I say, “Bravo!”

On the other hand, if you’ve struggled to get traction, take consistent action, or have had set-backs or feel discouraged, this is a great time to get back on track. There are still 11 months of the year ahead!

Here’s how to stay the course — or get back on track — as you pursue your goals and resolutions.

Leverage love!

Love is a powerful resource that’s always available to you, and that you can turn to at any time. Curious about how love will help you meet your goals? Here's the way this works.

Love powers your life in remarkable ways when you put it into action. And to help love do its magic, I suggest you begin with a simple technique: Pay attention to the words you say to yourself.

Because the words you use have a huge impact. The actual language of your thoughts matters!

It’s time to start speaking to yourself with love.

We tend to be incredibly hard on ourselves when we feel we are falling short in some way. If someone walked up to you and said, “What a loser! I can’t believe you didn’t make it to yoga class today!“ how would you feel? That would be harsh and mean, right? 

If you’d be unhappy to hear that from someone else, why would you use a similarly negative tone when thinking to yourself? Instead, consider loving ways to speak to yourself.

Loving self-talk about something that feels discouraging might sound like this: “Okay, you missed the yoga class today. Why not register now for the next one, and clear space on the calendar to be sure to get there? It will feel wonderful to spend that hour with a great teacher and so many lovely people! And, it will make the rest of the day so much more pleasant.”

Speaking to yourself with love will come naturally when you cultivate self-love in many ways. The idea is to stop being accusatory. Stop putting yourself down. Start treating yourself tenderly, like the deserving person you are.

Try these 3 easy ways to practice self-love and bring more loving self-talk into your life.

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror for a minute or two after you’ve washed your face each evening. Smile. Place a hand on your heart and say a few loving words to yourself. Yes, it will likely feel awkward, but if you do this every day for a week or two, it will get easier. Keep going! You’ll start to notice a shift in your self-talk throughout each day.

  2. Closely watch the words you choose in your thoughts about yourself. Do not label yourself in ways you would find unacceptable by others. Be positive, supportive, and encouraging — just as you would with someone special in your life. Reflect on the language you use and the circumstances when you give yourself the messages that most touch your heart, and find opportunities to do more of that.

  3. Treat yourself to small moments of delight — like time to sit and simply breath quietly for two minutes. Or take a break to walk in the fresh air. Or soak in a bubble bath. Or take a few extra minutes to savor the taste of your meal in quiet, rather than multitasking. As you take time for yourself, remind yourself of your talents and all the great things you do in the world. You might even want to start a self-love journal, where you can make a note each day of several ways that you are special. (Keep it handy and refer to it whenever you feel discouraged!)

While everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day as a single day for love, you can choose to fill your heart with love, and fill your thoughts with loving words about and to yourself, every day. This self-love will be an enormous help as you pursue the goals and dreams that deeply matter to you. 

And, there’s a bonus: The more fully you love yourself, the more love you will have for others in your life!

Love is in the air

Having a day to focus on and celebrate love feels like a glorious gift in the middle of winter. And with the especially frigid temperatures (and snow and ice) we’ve had in New England these last months, I feel enormously grateful for the warmth of this powerful emotion in my life now.

But I have long observed that many of us have a narrow concept about love. We often think about it in a very limited way. 

We think about romance — and romance is great — but love is so much more than romance. (And, romance requires a partner — and not all of us are partnered.) We think about the external symbols that the commercial culture emphasizes, like flowers and chocolates. And while it can be lovely to receive a thoughtful gift at any time, bouquets and sweets have little to do with the true glory of love.

When I think of love, I think about the magnificent and vast energy that love holds and how we can bring more of that into our lives and our world. Here’s what I mean.

Start with self-love

I always teach my clients that everything good we desire in our lives starts with loving ourselves — and that it’s much easier to create the life we want when we fully love ourselves. In fact, the ability to create in every and any way is bolstered when we practice self-love. 

Further, the sabotage of our self-critic can be mollified when we cultivate self-love. 

And, we must be filled with love for ourselves before we can truly love others in the fullest possible way.

When you appreciate yourself and your talents and gifts with a full heart, when you feel deserving of every kind of goodness in your life, and when you are able to forgive yourself for inevitable missteps, you are on the self-love path. You will naturally want to take good care of yourself — think good nutrition, ample sleep, exercising in ways that you enjoy, reducing what adds stress to your life, and more. You will feel great about pursuing things that enrich your spirit — think spending time in nature, attending concerts, taking singing lessons, reading great books, or embarking on adventures. This mindful way of living and caring for yourself lovingly will open your heart in magnificent ways and open your creative channels as never before. 

With strong self-love in place, the magic of love expands

Truly loving yourself allows you to love others more fully. A natural desire to share the joy in your heart will fill you. Of course it will flow most fully and abundantly to those who are special in your life, and they will likely notice that your ways of engaging lovingly are sweeter than ever. But you are also likely to be surprised at how much more inclined you feel to smile and share kindness with strangers in the course of your day. You may even be able to forgive more easily, with the insight that those for whom you have held hurt feelings are sorely in need of more love in their lives. I predict that you will find yourself spreading love in many new and beautiful ways.

You’ll start to notice a ripple effect

With abundant love in your heart, your expressions of love will be felt by others, in both subtle and obvious ways. Picking up on the magic of loving energy will enhance the happiness of those with whom you interact, and they too will be likely to feel and express more love for those around them. It’s this loving energy that expands and can change the world in amazing ways. I see it often, and I hope you will experience it as well.

So, in this season when love is the central topic of conversation and advertisements and celebrations of many kinds, I ask you: Even as you may be thinking about expressions of love for others, what can you do to love yourself now? What concrete thing can you do to shower yourself with love, and make yourself feel special? (Because, you ARE special!)

And, if you want to make a commitment to yourself to cultivate self-love, why not email me this week to tell me your ideas for self-love this week — be it taking a long soak in a bubble bath, cooking up something special to enjoy with dear friends, going to a matinee to see a film you've heard great things about, or anything else. 

And, next week, email me again to let me know what you did, how it went, and what you plan to do in the coming week to keep self-love in flow.

I’m sending you BIG love.

More than flowers and candy

Prompted by all the talk of Valentine's Day, I sent out an email this afternoon with some of my thoughts about the power of love.

And then I considered my plans for the holiday, and how I wanted to express my love for the man who has been the warmest, brightest light in my life for so many years. Early on, we went with flowers, a nice dinner out, and cards to celebrate. And while it wasn't "original," it was always lovely. For the last decade we have taken a little trip to Vermont around this time each year. It's a precious gift we give ourselves. The time away is wonderful to anticipate, to enjoy while we're there, and to reflect on long after we return. 

Today I wrote poem to tuck into the card I'll bring along for my husband. And, I wanted to write a poem for you, too. I hope you enjoy this small personal creation. Perhaps you'll be inspired to write a poem — or make your own card, or create in some other special way — for those you love dearly. Sharing a special creation that comes from your heart is sure to make this year's celebration extra-special and memorable.

Wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day!


the greatest gift

the gift most precious 
is the love in my heart

for those dearest to me
for all goodness 
for expressers of kindness
for the planet we inhabit
for all who cherish peace
for the generous
the creators
the healers
the teachers

this love has no limit

Thoughts about love on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is the focus of the day and I want to share some thoughts on the ways that love and creativity are closely related.

The power of love is legendary. Thinking about love in terms of the people who love us and those we love comes naturally. But few of us think about self-love, which is crucial for our happiness, our relationships, and as a foundation for creativity of all kinds.

A common misconception is that it’s selfish to think about loving yourself, but self-love is neither narcissistic nor selfish. It’s healthy and wonderful to make yourself a priority and love yourself, in much the way that you feel warm, excited, adoring feelings when you think of a person you dearly love. These are feelings of delight that you can cultivate for yourself.

Fall in love with yourself! Just as you want to give gifts to people you love, give yourself gifts. You deserve them. Give yourself time to do things you love. Give yourself the treat of popping in to a shop that delights you. Take a trip to someplace you've longed to visit. If you are busily doing only for others, you're neglecting yourself. And, when you put yourself last, you cannot give as much to others.

Self-love is also about forgiving yourself and accepting yourself. Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. That's the sign of a harsh self-critic, and for some, a self-critic that's out of control. Healthy, robust self-love is the antidote.

Cultivating self-love fuels a happy life. And, self-love is a key foundation of creativity. When self-love is missing the self-critic has free reign and creativity is stifled. Nobody can feel free to experiment, play, create, make mistakes and move on from from them, try out new ways to express themselves or find novel ways to solve problems when that self-critical voice is putting you down (and often making you afraid to even try). Do you see how this works? How self-love is the antidote to the negativity that hampers us and limits our potential?

I hope that this Valentine’s Day will be a celebration of vibrant love — for those dearest to you and for yourself.