Going home for the holidays can be quite an adventure.
Some people fly home, while others drive across town. Some people open their home to family and friends, while others drive from one home to another, making sure all relatives are properly visited. Then there are those who choose to stay where they are, cozy and warm, snuggled together, eating popcorn and watching holiday movies.
There is also another home we are always invited to visit. It is the sacred “home” within ourselves. It is our core, the essence of who we are. Traveling to this place takes courage, patience, trust and love. And though there is never much traffic, we can easily get lost.
This trip home may begin by sitting quietly and simply being still, or we may be forced onto this journey when we experience great trauma or pain. We catch a glimpse of light out of the corner of our eye, and we must make a choice. Do we turn away or do we continue this search for ourselves?
If you’re wondering how to know when you’ve found this place, a dear friend sent me a quote that answers this question.
“You have looked at so many doors with longing, wondering if your life lay on the other side. Home is always by another road, and you will know it, not by the light that waits for you, but by the star that blazes inside of you, telling you that where you are is holy and you are welcome here.”
I was truly flattered when a respected life coach asked to interview me on the topic of self-love. She explained the interview would be videoed and I went to work compiling as much information as I could. I hadn’t even heard the phrase “self-love” until was in my 40’s. It just seemed way too sappy a concept and too overwhelming a request.
During the interview, I shared that my journey to self-love began when a trauma forced me down inside myself. Until then, my focus had always been outward, doing my best to make sure others loved me—not noticing my own heart. I shared that the lack of self-love affected my ability to make decisions. Often, before taking a step forward, I would wait for all my ducks to get in a row, but not all ducks do that. From experience, I understood that making the wrong decisions, or making mistakes of any kind, put me at risk of being belittled, discounted and losing the love of others for which I was so desperate.
I shared that before I could love myself, I had to shift my focus inward and just be friends with myself for a while. Because of this shift I learned to speak my truth, most of the time. I began to be gentle with myself, some of the time. I practiced saying “No,” when I felt strong enough and my favorite self-love practices were simple: curling up with a good book, being in nature and journaling.
The interview lasted an hour and as soon as the video stopped recording, the first things out of my mouth were “My hair looked terrible! I used my hands too much! I talked too fast! I sounded awful!”
The women who had interviewed me couldn’t stop laughing. “Didn’t you just spend an hour talking about self-love?!”
Busted! What a fraud! Is it possible to be a star-crossed lover with yourself, almost connecting, but not quite?
Now I focus on a simple, three-step approach to self-love:
2. Makes lots of mistakes.
3. Laugh as often you can!
The following is a guest post by Lisa Bobyak of Living Fully Balanced.
You’ve got them in your house, but have you ever thought about what truly differentiates the thermometer from the thermostat?
The thermometer in your home reads the room and adjusts to the external surroundings. It’s controlled by factors outside of itself. The thermostat is set and remains steady no matter what the external conditions are. The controls are internal and constant.
To understand why I’m talking about the HVAC system in your home when my typical subject matter isn’t focused on climate control, I’d like you to consider these common life events. How do you respond to them? Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?
- You couldn’t get in to see your doctor for three months and the day of the appointment arrives. Your appointment is scheduled for 2:00pm and you get there early to check in. As you settle in to the seat in the waiting room, you notice others are being taken back their rooms. You wait. And you wait. And you wait. Finally, at 3:30pm, a nurse calls your name and takes you back to the exam room. You get changed into the paper gown. And you wait… again. Your doctor eventually rolls into your room around 4:00pm. ARGH! Is your reaction more like a thermometer or a thermostat?
- It’s Wednesday evening and you’ve had a relatively good day at work. You’re feeling fine and you’re happy to be home. However, things quickly change when you open the door from the garage to the house. You can almost taste the tension in the air. Your six-year-old twins are arguing over who’s turn it is with the shared iPad. And your spouse is yelling at your oldest, “Turn off the TV and find your soccer equipment! If we don’t leave in five minutes, we’ll be late!”. Thermometer or thermostat?
In our busy, sometimes frenetic days, it’s so easy to get caught up in reacting to the “temperature of the room.” Without thinking about it, we often soak in other people’s emotions and before we know it, we’re the ones taking on the stress and negative emotions that weren’t ours to begin with.
It’s a natural response to react like a thermometer.
However, constantly reacting to, and being pushed and pulled by other people’s moods and agendas gets exhausting. And it’s not just tiring. Our physical health takes a huge hit when we absorb other people’s stuff.
So, what’s our protection against the constant barrage of emotional shrapnel in our everyday world?
Be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.
Thermostat people have an internal locus of control. They know they have the power to control how they respond, no matter what’s going on around them. Their reactions are controlled and they are not affected by external factors.
Thermostat people are resilient.
Resilient people are happy.
Resilient people find joy in life.
And joyful people are better at practicing self-care and being kind to themselves.
The following is a guest post by Mary Battista of Prairie Health Companion.
When you hear the word stress, most people automatically think of a negative outcome: disease, discomfort or distress! Stress is “the response of the human organism to any change or demand”. But is the outcome from a demand put on the body necessarily always bad?
Most people are well aware of what stress means to them. When people are under pressure to achieve, or have constant demands that exceed what they feel they are capable of handling, they feel the negative effects of stress. Physically, they may experience chest pain, a racing heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, trouble sleeping, digestive dysfunction, muscle tension and headaches, to name a few. To soothe this state of “distress,” some may engage unhealthy practices such as overeating or drinking, which starts another set of stressors that comes from being overweight or side effects of too much alcohol. The body, feeling under threat, is sending distress signals by secreting the hormones cortisol and adrenaline as it prepares for the flight or fight response designed to help the body evade danger. The problem is that if stress is not well managed or is excessive, this response can cause or exacerbate disease.
Alternately, eustress is defined as “good stress”. In this state, you find yourself feeling engaged, inspired and excited about what lies ahead. This is the “sweet spot” that, as a coach, I am helping the client find so they feel challenged about the goals that lie ahead, rather than overwhelmed or out of control. Too little of the good stress and the client feels uninspired and finds it hard to move forward toward healthier habits.
Divorce can certainly be a stressor.
Taking small steps and experimenting with self-care, women can start to flourish in ways that bring good health and happiness back into their lives. Stress need not be all bad, but careful management is necessary so that you can live a life that feels exciting but allows the body to maintain optimal health.
The following is a guest post by Theresa Nutt.
As I continue my journey of becoming my own beloved, I have noticed something important: a theme that is really standing out for me right now is the topic of toughing it out. Too many of us have learned to ignore our feelings and other parts of our experience that are not considered acceptable (according to who, I wonder?).
Here are a few of the common symptoms of toughing it out:
- We swallow feelings and let them fester inside.
- Others treat us poorly and we don’t speak up.
- Our needs come last after everyone else is “happy” or comfortable (which never happens).
- We stop pursuing our passions and wait for a magic someday.
- Our body tries to get our attention and we just keep pushing on because there isn’t enough time. Eventually, something big happens and we suffer as a result.
- We are exhausted, but afraid to slow down or rest.
- Instead of living a unique life that speaks to us, we try to fit in and be more like others around us.
Tune In Instead Of Toughing It Out
The obvious remedy is to tune in more deeply to ourselves and our experience. There are times when the most loving thing to do is notice that life is really challenging. Or, that despite our best efforts we can’t seem to make headway.
There are not enough spiritual gymnastics in the world to help us in certain situations. And instead of admitting we are struggling or instead of asking for help when we need it the most, we start beating ourselves up using our inner critic.
What if instead of all the critic’s responses, you found yourself asking what you needed most instead of how can you tough this out?
Help Yourself First Instead of Toughing It Out
Once you tune in, you have the good fortune of knowing what you most need. Is your inner child screaming for your attention in some way? Are you in need of a supportive friend to listen or give you a hand? Do you need some time in Mother Nature to calm your mind and deepen your breathing?
And in the end, if you could just remember that the love, attention, approval, appreciation and every other thing you seek from external sources is a neon sign. The neon sign is reminding you to stop, tune into what is true for you, and love yourself more fiercely than ever before.