How is your Valentine's Day? Romance, flowers, chocolate, and wine? Like many holidays, the introvert isn't so easily turned on with a lot of fan fare about these kinds of events. At least I'm not. My preference is to celebrate as much love, care and kindness as possible all year long. This got me thinking about, where does this love, care and kindness come from? How do you give it to others? Can it easily become a daily habit?
The truth is, the give and take of displays of love, care and kindness need to start with how you treat yourself in these ways, or not.
I'm married to an extrovert, and most of my family fit that style. I think because of that it's often easier for me to have show outward displays of love. And just as many family members as there are, there is that many ways to show love. If you start with loving yourself though, everything can flow from there.
For me, one of the most loving things I do for myself is to be positive. As someone who spends a good deal of time in my own head, it's sometimes difficult to notice the exact tone of my thoughts. Are they more uplifting? Are they more discouraging? But when I pay attention to them, whether it's in daily meditation, or to just stop and listen throughout the day, I can hear just where they are. If then tend to be more discouraging, I can and usually do, decide to change them.
What's one way you love yourself?
This can be with actions, words or touch. For me in caring for myself, it gets back to those words I choose to both have in my head and speak to others and myself. These days I telephone talk with my youngest sister quite often. When I do it's usually about the care giving we share in for my mother. But I know my sister is also caring for my father too! And, she has a youngest daughter who is in college. I can only imagine how busy her life is as a single mom.
When we connect I start with letting her lead the conversation; this is difficult for the oldest sister in me who is also an INTJ. From there the conversation is steered by her. But always in the middle, as I listen, I find a way to ask about how she is. How is she feeling? What is she up to? What plans does she have for the weekend? Ok here comes that critic side of me but, while I don't think it is enough, I know she knows I care about her from her answers and the way her voice changes.
Caring for myself is paramount to being able to show care for others whether it's in actions, words or touch.
What's one way you care for yourself of others?
My wonderful online friend, Mari-Lyn Harris, authored a fabulous little book called, Kindness@work. http://kindnessatworkebook.com/buy-it-now/ It's an uplifting compilation of stories about people's experiences with kindness. No two are alike. Highly recommended.
One word that often haunts me because so many people who worked for me when I was a sales manager used it to describe me is the word intense. Specifically, "You are too intense." I think it comes from times of great focus. Who knows? Regardless, for me the word is a reminder to me to not take myself so seriously. What is the expression – take your work seriously but not yourself. To me in my work, that translates to when I make mistakes, give myself a second chance.
When I am kind to myself then it certainly flows more easily to my friends, my husband and my family.