If there’s been a theme this past week, it has been love. In a passage often mistakenly reserved only for weddings, the Sunday sermon reminded me of the essence of love.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.I Corinthians 13:4-7
Imagine what this world would be like if we used this as our standard of interacting with others? Think of the pain that might have been averted had we always been treated in this way. At times it is others who fall hopelessly short of the love standard in their interactions with us, but that is not all. We are often hardest on ourselves. I wonder how we can hope to treat others with this kind of love when we are seldom patient and kind, keeping no record of wrongs, with ourselves. We could begin building our capacity for loving others by starting with ourselves.
The mental fitness group I’m leading happened to be focusing on building their ability to empathize this week. It was a reminder to me not only of how hard we can be on ourselves but also of the transformational power of building our ability to love. Shirzad Charmine briefly describes the exercise we did as a group in his book, Positive Intelligence. It is a concrete starting point for learning to love yourself, which in turn generates the ripples to begin to love others in the same empathetic manner. This is not the only way to learn to love yourself, but I have found it personally helpful. It has even helped me be gentler with myself in these last months while mourning the death of my mum.
Visualize yourself as a child in a setting where your essence is shining through. Perhaps you are holding a puppy, building a sandcastle, chasing a bunny, or snuggling with a loved one. Pick a vivid and detailed image that instantly triggers feelings of caring and empathy. You might even want to find an actual picture of yourself as a child in which your original personality is shining through. Put that picture on your desk or on your phone or computer so that you see it frequently. This image will be a reminder that your true essence is worthy of unconditional caring and empathy when you are feeling beaten down by your own Judge or others’, or the troubles of life.Positive Intelligence Shirzad Charmine page 85
The experiences that stick in our minds are often those we have felt the most love or greatest grief at the loss or absence of love. Love can heal and the lack of it can traumatize. This is our power – to live lives marked by love. May we be known for the kind of love that rejoices when the truth wins out, that never gives up, never loses hope or faith and endures through every circumstance.
This week’s photos
As the post today is all about love, I’ll share with you some pictures I took of the sunset the night before my mum died. These images (for me) are marked by love. They are forever connected to thoughts about my mum.
Today I had the beautiful gift of words from a client who shared that they had found themselves again through coaching with me, had found happiness, self love and a sense of being complete. What joy that brought me!
If there’s one thing, I want you to know it’s this: we all have shadows in our lives. It is my deep desire to help you to become more accepting and compassionate when it comes to your struggles. It doesn’t have to stop there. I’d love to help you to use what feels difficult to define what matters to you.
The work I do as a coach focuses on personal growth. That could include but is not limited to: developing courage, building mental fitness, clarifying values and honouring those values in your life, setting boundaries, becoming more assertive, developing self-awareness and confidence, setting goals, finding your inner strength, identifying and dealing with the thoughts that sabotage you, support in making changes or in going through transitions, and work on discovering your life purpose. Personal growth can have a profound and positive impact on your career, your work and personal relationships and your general satisfaction with life.
This past year has crystallized for me that life is fragile. What we take for granted may be gone tomorrow. My hope for you is that you will take this moment and bring into being the things you wish were already here. All we have is now.