Your Weekly Meditation: Love Begets Love

Love begets love, no advertising required.

Now that the month of February is over for another whole year, we can admit that it is no secret that February is the “month of love” for corporate marketing departments everywhere. But however over-hyped and overtly-marketed the sublime state of love may be each February, it is an excellent reminder that love begets love. The marketing, the slogans, the advertisements, they are like un-subtle broadcast messages reminding us of who we love, how much we love them, and even that we love them. If we buy in to those messages on a purchasing power level, we may be the poorer in our pocketbooks, but we likely have also taken the initiative to give, and have thus received in return, more overt expressions of love during the month of February than possibly at any other month during the year! Maybe, if we take this message to heart, then by next February we won’t need those advertising slogans as a reminder anymore…and we will be amazed by how much our own daily expressions of love towards ourselves and others have enriched our lives.

This week I resolve to: Remember that love begets love, no advertising required. When I am feeling unloved, giving love to myself and others is the surest path towards an experience of receiving the love I need. When I am feeling loved, giving more love to myself and others is the surest path towards an experience of receiving more love in return.

Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: Three Steps to Move from Wanting to Having

Whether it is a better job, a more satisfying relationship, a long-denied vacation, or more self-love, the steps to move from wanting what you want to getting what you want are the same.

Oddly, however, no matter how many times we see the process playing out in the lives of others, nature, American Idol contestants, or the birds and the bees, often the personalization of this process is not that intuitive.

We are just too scared.

We want it too much. We are too sure we won’t be able to have it, hold it, or even get within spitting distance of it. We are too positive we can’t do what it will take to get it. We are also pretty convinced that the folks we think have it and could show us the way – those fabulous, amazing, powerful and talented folks – can smell us coming from a mile away and are determined to spend their remaining days as far away as possible on the other side of the room from have-nots like us.

But they were have-nots once too. They just know one thing that we don’t. They know that, as a mentor of mine once told me, “Anything worth getting is worth giving everything for.”

What she means is this: If your soul sings at the mere thought of “it” (aka whatever you want), if you simply cannot stop wanting it no matter how many rational arguments against it that your logical brain can produce, if you keep trying in (you think) your own small, pathetic way to obtain it, if you sometimes cry yourself to sleep at night wanting it and then have dreams that you have it and wake up happy – at least until you realize it was “just a dream”, and if any or all of these experiences have happened to you more than once, then you know you have a real game-changer on your hands.

You have a dream that has a life of its own. You want something that is so much a part of you – who you are now, who you have always been, and who you have yet to become (actually, all of the above) – that giving up on the dream feels like giving up on life itself. The good news is here is that, if you are dreaming a game-changer dream like this, you are actually destined to achieve the very thing you want, provided you are willing to work more deeply and courageously, learn and grow more, and leap higher and farther than you ever imagined possible.

The even better news is that this thing that you want is already yours….in theory. But that doesn’t mean you will ever get it – not as long as you continue to allow your limiting beliefs to stand in between you and it. And that doesn’t mean that you still don’t have to take the necessary steps to get there….just like every other dreamer who eventually lands their personal game-changer grand prize dream.

In honor of the month of February, let’s take self-love as an example we can work from.

Self-love may mean different things to different people, but a generic definition we can use is to have a positive regard and affection for self that is at least equal to that of the individual in our lives whom we treasure most. Whether that is your spouse, your child, or your pet…..what matters is that you can see a compare-and-contrast in how you treat that other and how you treat yourself.

If you treat the other better, then you could stand some improvement in the self-love department. If you also want that improvement for yourself, if you want to feel more love and regard towards yourself, and if you want it badly, then you have identified a clear example of a soul-level want that can be yours if you are willing to do what it takes to achieve it.

There are three steps that you will take to move from wanting to having a more fulfilling and authentic expression of self-love. These three steps will sound ridiculously easy, but that doesn’t mean that they are.

Here are the three steps:

Step One: Admit that you want it. No way are you ever going to get what you want if you won’t admit to yourself that you want it. If you can go one step farther and admit that you want it to yourself and one other person (this person is called an “accountability partner” in some circles) even better.

Step Two: Work deeply and courageously, learn and grow more, and leap higher and farther than you ever thought possible. (NOTE: As you can tell, this step is the one that usually takes the longest).

Step Three: Reach out and claim “it” for your very own.

If you have a big “it” that you simply cannot stop dreaming about, but you feel stuck and stalled out in progressing towards your goal, I want to invite you to contact Southlake Counseling. We have a highly trained, expert and caring professional staff who has more than 20 years’ worth of experience with guiding individuals just like you to say “no” to limiting self beliefs and “yes” to self-love, self-worth, and achieving the big game-changer dreams. Visit us today at www.southlakecounseling.com

Be Well,

Kimberly

Your Weekly Meditation: Love Happens

Love happens.

Love is happening all around us, every day, in every way. But often it is also simultaneously struggling quite hard to find a way to get into our lives! Our own beliefs about love – how it can happen, when it can happen, whom it can happen with – can become barriers as strong and impenetrable as steel walls covering us from ceiling to floor and on all sides. Since love is as necessary to human life as oxygen, love never ceases to happen, and it is always hovering on the sidelines and waiting in the wings, scoping out even the merest hint of an invitation to take center stage in our lives.

This week I resolve to: Notice where love is unfolding – in a kind word I speak to a stranger, in their smile I receive in return, in the moment when I stop a self-critical thought in its tracks, in the grace of receiving an extra day to complete an important project. The more I notice how, when, and where love is already happening, the more love there will be, and the more love that love will attract.

15 Ways to Say “I Love You” to Yourself

Depending on whom you ask, self-love is alternately over and underrated.

In some circles, self-love can be viewed as bordering on narcissism, where a concern for self and self-needs edges out the ability to strike that necessarily delicate balance between one’s own good and the greater good. In other circles, self-love is all too often confused with self-critical behaviors that read like an endless litany of guilt-laden motherly instructions “for your own good”.

As with anything else, extremes seldom yield anything truly useful, healing, or inspiring over the long term.

In a related note of interest, scientifically it is now known that the act of loving releases a powerful surge of feel-good endorphins throughout the lovers’ systems. Even better, for new pairs of lovers, that twin surge of endorphins can be expected to last up to 18 months before it begins to fade biochemically.

But the surge can be extended – up to forever – by making the effort to keep the romance alive. The most common advice given to achieve this extension is for couples to remember what they spent time doing together in those heady first months, and to start doing those things again.

Not rocket science…..like most wise advice.

In the same way, self-love can be cultivated through a simple application of similar principles to those that bond couples together for months, years, or a lifetime. All it takes is a few doses of pure wisdom, some willingness, and a spirit of adventure.

So in the spirit of a more self-focused love-related adventure, why would it potentially be beneficial to proactively cultivate a loving relationship towards one’s own self?

Whether the goal is to enjoy life more, cultivate more satisfying and nurturing relationships with others, experience greater self-efficacy in making desired life changes, explore new challenges with increased self-confidence, actually try some of those items from a so-called “bucket list”, and many other reasons besides, there is nothing that is not advantageous to self or others about increasing one’s own regard, care, and love for oneself.

In other words, self-love is simply a win-win for all concerned.

It also just so happens that February is the perfect month to embark upon a self-love adventure. Why is this?

Well, February, of course, is the permanent month of residence for Valentine’s Day, a holiday that is neck-and-neck with Christmas as perhaps the most over-marketed, over-hyped, and overtly stressful annually recurring holiday.

On Valentine’s Day, those who have the romance of an “other” in their lives are given a gold star and carte blanche to empty their piggy banks in true Western consumer capitalism style to display their love to the envious world. Those whom are not so lucky are encouraged to alternately display their defiance of the holiday by celebrating the anti-Valentine’s day, or to simply keep their heads down and hide out in their houses for a proscribed 24-hour period.

If neither alternative sounds particularly appealing, luckily there is another route to enjoying, celebrating, and even enhancing the experience of taking part in Valentine’s Day this year – and also making the feel-good endorphins-inspired buzz last all year long, partner or no partner!

If you are dreading the prospect of spending Valentine’s Day without a lover-other in your life, if you are one of those lucky people who doesn’t need a holiday like Valentine’s Day to remember to treat your lover nicely or even spring for a fun token of your regard, or if you are simply exhausted by the same ole, same ole and are seeking a fresh approach to a tired holiday routine, then try these 15 fun ways to say “I Love You” to yourself this February.

(p.s. If you have a lover, you might even want to try them together-but-separately and then share your experiences as a guaranteed way to spice up both your relationship with yourself and with each other! )

Regardless of your reasons for trying these 15 sweet and simple ideas, I guarantee you – you will be glad you gave them a whirl.

©   Put on your favorite love song (Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is a sure-fire winner) and get out a handheld mirror. Gaze deeply into your own eyes while the song plays. Keep tissues handy.

©   Keep a self-gratitude journal. Every day, write down five things you are grateful to yourself for. You can also write down five things you are simply grateful for. But make sure you write your self-thank you’s first!

©   Write down five of your “favorite things”. Schedule a day this month to take yourself on a date “au solo”. On that day, try to do all five things. Repeat at least one time each month.

©   Listen to your gut when it is telling you to say “no”. Then SAY IT. Remember, sometimes saying “no” to someone else is also the only way to say “yes” to you.

©   Unplug. Yes, this means you. Yes, this means the cell phone, the laptop, the iPad, the iPod, the television, the CD player. When was the last time you just sat and listened to the wonder of your own breathing as the air flows in and out and in and out and in….wow. Life IS a miracle….YOUR life is a miracle.

©   Feel your anger. Your sadness. Your irritation. Your unforgiveness. Feel it all. You have every right to feel every single thing you feel. What you do with it is step two, and there you may choose to take different paths to deal with different feelings, including scheduling some therapy sessions, meditating or practicing deep breathing, writing a letter, saying what you need to say in person, screaming into a pillow or choosing to keep quiet. But step one – and a non-negotiable step to get through the process safely and healthily – is to give yourself permission to feel EVERYTHING. They are your feelings. If you don’t feel them, who will?

©   Apologize to yourself. You have said some pretty awful things to yourself, have probably even done some pretty awful things to yourself, over the years. Maybe they are things you wouldn’t dream of saying or doing to your lover, your family, your child. But you did them to yourself, and you owe yourself an apology – a very sincere and heart-felt “I am SO sorry.”

©   Apologize to others. Carrying around unforgiveness, resentment, rage, or even simple misunderstanding can make you feel like Atlas carrying the world delicately balanced on your increasingly exhausted shoulders. You are not carrying the whole world, but trying to carry around your own personal world can have the same effect as it crashes down, taking you and everyone you love with it. Don’t wait – whatever happens, it has got to feel better than staggering under the painful weight of holding it all up inside.

©   Take 5, 10, 15 minutes each day – however long you can spare without stressing about it – to do deep breathing, to meditate, and to just listen to yourself. What are you longing for? Whom do you miss? What do you hope for more of – or less of? Write it down. These are your soul’s messages to you – and the beginning of a potentially beautiful friendship.

©   Hear your shame out. Human beings feel shame – and this is an experience that can shut us down or free us depending on what we do with it. What are you ashamed of? What can you do about it? Is your shame coming from your own words or actions or from the words and actions of another? How old is your shame – are you a little girl, a teen, a young woman, mature in years? What do you need in order to feel safe and supported to let your shame out, take appropriate action where indicated, and then let it go and move on? Whatever you need, start by hearing your shame out, and then just take it one step at a time from there.

©   Remind yourself that this world CAN and WILL go on without you. This means you – the mother, the wife, the executive, the nonprofit leader, the community organizer, the caretaker, the (fill in the blanks). Use this healthy dose of perspective to deal yourself IN to your own life on a daily basis.

©   Notice what makes you spontaneously smile, and do more of that as often as possible.

©   Make a list of the people who inspire you the most. Recognize that something that is already in you resonates with something that is already in them. Pat yourself on the back for choosing to keep such good company!

©   Make a list of people who have a knack for making you feel worse about yourself, your life, your job, your relationships with others, etc. Spend as little time with them as humanly possible (and no time at all, ideally).

©   Do the same thing with music, movies, television programs, talk radio shows, books, and other “consumables” that have a depressive, negative, or hope-sucking effect on you. Move them to your “Do Not Do” list – permanently.

So there they are. 15 beautiful, simple ways to say “I Love You” to yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day!

About the Author: Kimberly B. Krueger, MSW, LCSW is the Founder and Program Director for Southlake Counseling and Southlake Center for Self Discovery. She has dedicated her career to helping people of all ages “say yes to life” and overcome their life challenges with compassion, professional guidance, and caring support. Southlake Counseling offers the most comprehensive counseling services in the Southlake area with a focus on eating disorders, mood disorders, nutrition and fitness, wellness, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, addictions, equine therapy, and a full range of one-on-one and group therapeutic services. Learn more at www.southlakecounseling.com.

 

 

 

 

Your Weekly Meditation: Love Yourself, No Permission Needed

Love yourself, no permission needed.

Maybe this Valentine’s Day you have all the romance you’ve ever dreamed of coming into your life from the presence of another person. But whether you do or you don’t, you can have that same amazing, whirlwind romance any day, at any time, when you remember that you can love yourself that way, no permission needed. YOU are amazing. You are one of a kind. Before you put it out of your mind, refusing to even consider the possibility that you might be the most incredible person you have ever met, give this idea a moment or two to simmer in your awareness. Consider it as if the wisest, most influential person in your life has just told you that it is true. How would it change your life if you believed their words, and fell deeply, madly, passionately in love with you?

This week I resolve to: At least consider the possibility that I can fall madly, deeply, and completely in love with me, and imagine how much richer my life could be once I do.

Your weekly meditation: You Owe it to Yourself to Embrace All of You

You owe it to yourself to embrace all of you.

While we may not necessarily enjoy the moments when we are feeling grief, anger, irritation, unforgiveness, or other so-called “negative” emotions, the truth is that every single human being on the planet feels these things too, and often on a regular basis. So we are in good company all the time, no matter what we are feeling! Furthermore, these experiences, like everything life offers us, will be what we make of them – but only if we learn to embrace them first, and then act on them. We owe it to ourselves to hear ourselves out, no matter what the message is. We owe it to ourselves to embrace all of who we are now on the road to becoming all of who we dream of being.

This week I resolve to: Embrace all of my thoughts, feelings, and emotions as love letters from me to me – messages giving me valuable information I can use to make the most of the chance I have right now to live the life I dream of living.

Your Weekly Meditation: It is Possible To Embrace Change

It is possible to embrace change.

Sometimes, when we have been in crisis for some time, we feel like we are fighting everything. Whether the crisis is self- or other-imposed, after it has dragged on for awhile we can feel exhausted, worn out, out of options. Yet, it is what we tell ourselves about the change that matters the most, and also contributes to whether we feel drained or renewed when change occurs. For instance, when spring shifts to summer, and then summer to fall, we just accept it. We don’t fight and resist, wearing ourselves out by railing against the unfairness or telling everyone who will listen how unnecessary it is. In the same way, when we can drop our sense of being at odds with change as it arises, we can see that any temporary discomfort we may feel is not from fighting change, but rather is the direct result of our efforts to embrace change as it occurs.

This week I resolve to: Recognize that often what I perceive as fighting change is really my attempts to accept it, and change my story about what is happening to give myself more credit and support.

 

Your Weekly Meditation: What We Can’t Control Can Teach Us

What we can’t control can teach us.

On some level, we can’t help it. We are human, and we are programmed with an innate primitive brain function called “fight or flight” that is continually roving out ahead of us, seeking for signs of doom and disaster. Luckily, however, our brains have evolved quite a bit over the millennia, so now we can see how we are biologically programmed, and work around areas where we know we have a knee-jerk tendency to panic or overreact. Actually, this is how we’ve evolved – by learning to do this. So now that we know this, we can keep learning. We can choose not to engage with knee-jerk “fight or flight” responses, taking a few deep breaths instead, walking around the block if we need to, giving ourselves time to remember that we now have choices. Now, we can choose to respond to the unexpected in ways that are more in alignment with how we want to see and live life. 

This week I resolve to: Give myself some time to respond when life hands me a helping of the unexpected. I can breathe, I can wait, I can say to others, “I’ll get back with you after I have given this issue some thought.”

 

Your Weekly Meditation: Life is Like a Bowl of Jello

Life is like a bowl of jello.

Taking Forrest Gump’s famous chocolate analogy a step further, life as it is most closely resembles a bowl of jello. We are constantly trying to steady our footing, hunting around for solid ground. But the moment we find it, it shifts again. Rather than continuing to struggle to change how life is, the beneficial approach here is to relax into the experience of walking on jello, learning to laugh softly at life’s jiggles and wiggles and bumps, and maybe even enjoying the excitement of never knowing what will happen next!

This week I resolve to: Reconnect to the pure joy I had as a small child, when I could spend hours chasing those jiggly jello cubes around the bowl, anticipating the moment I might finally catch one and – gulp!

 

Your Weekly Meditation: Connection is Critical

Connection is critical.

When we think of connection, what often comes to mind is a busy career or social schedule, engaging in hobbies or volunteer work with others, finding a romantic partner, starting a family, and other types of social-focused activities or experiences. But the connection we are truly seeking in life can happen anytime, whether we are in the crowd or all alone. When we remember that we are all in this life together, when we remind ourselves that we all experience joy, sorrow, pain, loneliness, and hope, we connect to the shared experience of being human, and we can no longer justify hiding in isolation, or believing that nobody around us could understand what we are going through.

NOTE: Interestingly, when we do this regularly, we also often find that our self-esteem and satisfaction with our life just as it is improves as well!

This week I resolve to: Spend a few moments each morning connecting within myself to the shared experience of being human that is going on within and all around me, and reminding myself of that unbreakable connection.