So it’s the end of another year! 2015 is around the corner and we are all busy enjoying, returning or thinking about whom we can regift our Christmas or Hannukah presents. We’re enjoying the last days of our decorated tree, menorah, etc.. Enjoying the last days of our holidays or vacations. Cleaning house after our guests have left, and pondering our New Year resolutions… in other words: we’re quite busy and probably going through waves of up and down emotions.
Whether single or partnered, it’s likely that 2014 has also been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs; of joys and sorrows; of love and … well, not love; of obstacles – some overcome and some not; of successes – some meaningful and some not so much so; of fights and make-ups. That seems to be life, no?
As we anticipate the start of the New Year, it might wise to sit in our favorite quiet spot to reflect on 2014 and let go of the sorrows and pains. I am fortunate enough to have such a place: one of our many coves where the mighty Pacific comes crashing on some rocks. I enjoy watching the water crest over them as the setting sun paints our sky with an incredible array of colors. It is, overall, quite inspiring and lets me know that my pains and sorrows are just part of the journey to my growth.
If you are in a partnership, now is a particularly good time to sit with your partner and discuss the status of your relationship. It would be best if you both did so with open hearts, making yourself vulnerable so as not to become defensive. Yes, some of the words your partner may (is likely) to say will no doubt be hurtful, perhaps profoundly so. In such a case, you would do well to remember that s/he is merely reflecting your own fears. You would also do well to remember that s/he is trusting that you will be receptive to those words, and that they can, in most instances, be used to strengthen your relationship.
In any event, it is best to remember that loving yourself is the best thing you can do to achieve a loving and viable relationship with your significant other. I have discussed what this entails in a previous column (See, On Being One … And The Power Of Self-Esteem). However, it is wise to remind yourself (and myself) that you can never truly love someone if you don’t first love yourself. Also, wise to remind yourself (and myself) that depending on someone else to make you happy, is both an illusion and a set-up for heartbreak, as it is unlikely (nay, impossible) for that other person to always love you. There will be moments when his/her fears overcome his/her love for you. At those times, you may both enter a downward spiral unless you are strong enough to understand that you are the master of your own happiness and that his/her words are not a reflection upon you, but upon him/her. To have a loving and viable relationship with someone else, you must first love yourself! You must trust that everything always works out for you!
Think about it this way: If you are always fearful of “losing” your partner’s love, you will be walking on eggshells most of the time. And when they break, your toes will be full of egg!!! Quite a gooey mess, right? Think about it this way as well: Most people – no doubt including yourself – prefer to be with positive and self-confident people. Would you prefer to be someone who can see the silver lining in every cloud, or someone for whom the glass is not half-empty, but totally empty (I know I’m mixing my metaphors, but you get the point)? I thought so. When you love yourself, you have a bounce in your step that signals everyone else your confidence and makes you attractive to the opposite sex and more approachable to friends and family.
Sounds simple, but it is proving to be most difficult for most of us. We have all grown in environments (family, school, work and the media) that have consistently attacked our self-esteem. The media is a master at this. Watch almost any TV commercial or print ad and you will detect sometimes a not so subtle message that you are not “good enough” unless you drink this beer, wear this mascara, drive this car, etc. Our parents, bless them all for they meant well, did the same in their attempt to “protect” us, while our peers (school and work) did the same, most of the time unconsciously, as they feared – to quote a proverb – to soar with eagles. It is always easier to bring someone down than to raise yourself to their level. In doing so, we all mire in mediocrity (by the way, that’s how most corporations evolve, but that’s a different subject).
So, one of the keys to happiness is to always know that, no matter what happens (short of a terminal disease – and perhaps even then) you WILL be okay! We all run worst case scenarios in our minds. Take the time to really examine these and figure out the likelihood that they will come “true”. If you do, then ask yourself what the likelihood is that you will not survive any, some or all of these scenarios! You WILL be okay!
So, if you are in a partnership, take the time and focus on what first made you fall in love with your partner. Chances are that those character traits are still there and over time, you have chosen to focus on the negative aspects — which are merely reflections of your own fears. You may even have, unconsciously or consciously, caused your partner to become fearful. Take the time to tell your partner how much you love him/her. Take the time to compliment him/her… frequently. Take the time to tell him/her “I love you because you are you!” Take the time to appreciate the every day little gestures that s/he makes to show you s/he loves you. It’s all there and when you focus upon it you will fall in love all over again. Most importantly, take the time to forgive and forget whatever happened in the past. Remember that your partner doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. You are looking at the same situation through different filters and arriving at different conclusions. Turn the page and take the time to write your new chapter together! For that, you will need communication. What ends a lot of, if not most, relationship is not lack of communication, but mis-communication. Men and women have evolved to communicate with very different styles. Past columns have explored this and I invite you to read them. It will be enlightening. Once you understand each other’s communication styles, you will find that your relationship is likely to blossom to a higher level as you both feel heard and supported.
If you are single, then go out and do things that are fun for you. Don’t wait for your next partner to show up to do them. Go out and take dancing lessons (I will be doing so in January and can’t wait!). How about painting lessons? Go out sky diving or surfing. Take the time to enjoy your own company. After all, no one can (should?) love you more than yourself! Take the time to be good to your body. Join a yoga class. Or how about a cooking class? Or learn to play the piano (yup, I am!). Go out on a hike. Take a bath with scented salts (a difficult thing for most men, but one I have begun to enjoy). Take the time to settle in your favorite chair (if you don’t have one, it’s time to pick one), with or without a glass of wine and your favorite book! How about playing your favorite song and just dancing! Turn off the TV and its incessant drama (that’s what sells). Let your imagination immerse you in wonders of the written words. Branch out, go out into the world with the confident step that tells everyone: “I am my own person and I love myself!” Then watch what happens.
Do not be afraid of living! Do not be afraid of properly communicating! Do not be afraid of what might be!
So, let me leave you with a few quotes on fear:
“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.” – Bertrand Russell
“The things which we fear the most in life have already happened to us.” – Robin Williams, RIP
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japenese proverb
As always, I leave you in love and, this time, I wish you loads of laughter and giggles for the New Year! Jean-Pierre
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