In Alan Cohen’s book, “Wisdom of the Heart” he writes, “It’s my own love I want, so why confuse it with seeking it from another? When you honor and nurture yourself, your happiness will proceed from within you and you won’t have to depend on another for it. As you give yourself more love, your relationships will change and reflect yourself-honoring. Another person isn’t the source of your love, you are. True love is an inside job.”
I bought a book at a yard sale called, “Madly in Love with ME” by Christine Arylo. I liked the title and was familiar with the author. In each of the chapters, she gives you a list of questions to help you discover how well you are doing on your self-love journey. I scored pretty high and was happy to see that I am on the right path of giving myself self-love.
I am grateful that Spirit always brings to light what is hidden in me so it can be transformed. It could be old beliefs that no longer serve me and will hurt and hinder by spiritual growth.
One of the ways I give myself self-love is to pay attention to my moods, attitudes and feelings. When something is “stirring inside” and just doesn’t feel right, I pray and meditate and ask God for guidance. As I wait and listen, it always becomes clear what needs to change. I often discover it is my ego wanting to cause trouble and unrest in my soul. I know that once the ego is identified, it loses its power. It always helps me to talk about it with someone I love and trust.
As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, being in a relationship will often bring to light “my stuff”. I was given several opportunities to see my stuff this week. Although it always surprises me when I discover an old belief that is still alive and well in my unconscious, I am grateful how quickly I am able to recognize it.
Rather than beat up on myself like I did for so many years when I discovered something about myself or an old belief that was still playing in my head that I didn’t like, I have learned to be gentle, kind and loving toward myself. I forgave myself and didn’t judge myself. It really feels good when I give myself the unconditional love that I would give to one of my children or to a friend when they were hurting.
Without going into all of the details, Spirit revealed to me how I was giving my power away in a couple of areas of my life. Looking outside for validation and approval is always harmful because it is never enough. It is my own validation and approval that I am seeking. Here is what was revealed by Spirit:
- It is not always about me or something I have done wrong when someone doesn’t respond in the way I would like them to. For example, if I am ignored or someone doesn’t answer an email or phone call, it often has nothing to do with me. In other words, “Don’t take things personal.”
- I was looking to Larry to validate my “dancing skills” (giving my power away) Instead, I am validating my own skills and they are “good enough.”
- I don’t have to BE the best – I just have to DO my best and trust that is enough.
When I changed my beliefs and gave myself the validation and love that I needed, everything shifted. It didn’t matter what Larry thought about my dancing, it was what I thought that was important. And the best part was that my dancing improved.
The other day I offered a friend the gift of my time. My friend declined and we agreed that perhaps another time would be more convenient. Later that day Pat asked me, “How do you feel about your friend declining your gift?” I replied, “I’m fine with the decision my friend made not to accept my offer. Actually, I feel happy that our friendship is such that my friend feels comfortable to refuse a visit and knows there will be no ill feelings on my part.”
I proceeded to share with Pat an experience I had many years ago that taught me a very important lesson about giving with “no strings attached.” Pat asked me to share this story in the blog. I was reluctant to do so at first since I am a very private person and don’t like to bring attention to myself. Pat suggested to me that the lessons I learned in this experience could be beneficial to others, so here it is.
I worked in a soup kitchen in Hartford, CT. 30 years ago one day a week. We provided and cooked meals for around 100 people. One evening in February on a snowy subzero night, I noticed one of the men had come into the building with just a light sweater on. He was wet, shivering and looked like he was on his last legs. I couldn’t believe he was out in these winter elements without a coat or jacket.
I had worn my favorite winter parka which I loved because it was the warmest parka I had ever owned. After noticing this man I just couldn’t let him to go out again at night without a jacket, so I gave him my winter parka. He was very thankful and appreciative.
About a half hour later, I saw this man wearing an old ratty jacket and the parka I had given him was gone. I couldn’t believe it! I felt terrible and betrayed. I thought, “What’s the matter with him? Is he crazy? I gave my beautiful new parka away for nothing.”
From my prospective, he had traded it and made a very poor bargain.
Later in the evening while I was thinking about this experience, I asked myself some serious questions about my giving practices.
- Did I not give this person a gift?
- Did it have strings attached?
- Do I give gifts with expectations?
- Was he to use my gift according to my wishes and ideas?
- If I “gave” him the parka then he could do what he wanted to do with it.
- It is no longer mine, it’s gone, out of my life.
One of the gifts I received was that I was able to be compassionate, generous and loving to a person I didn’t even know and give him something that was very important to me to make his life a little better.
The other lesson I learned and haven’t forgotten 30 years later is that when I give a gift, there are no expectations or strings attached. My joy is in the giving and you receiving. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog,
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Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host
Simply A Woman of Faith
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