Matters of the Heart
The month of February is usually associated with St.Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love filled with chocolates, champagne, roses and above all, feeling grateful for all our loving relationships. Love makes the world go round and has been a favourite topic for musicians, philosophers, poets, writers, movie directors, artists and scientists for generations. Although there are different types of love, one thing they all have in common is how love is the glue that binds the relationships and keeps them strong. Love includes a wide range of emotions and deep feelings mixed with a combination of compassion, care, understanding, acceptance, patience, respect and affection.
Love is the universal language. Love heals all. Love conquers all. All you need is love.
Let’s talk about love and explore how to cultivate it in order to build a solid foundation for healthy long lasting relationships.
Relationships with others – Everyone wants to love and be loved.
- Communication is the key. Healthy communication is about feeling heard, understood and respected by the other person. The same applies to your ability to listen, understand and respect what the other person is saying. This involves being honest to your feelings, thoughts and the person you are involved with. Communication is not only about talking but more importantly, it is about listening, being open and receptive without judging, criticizing or jumping to conclusions. Active listening is being fully present and involved.
- Respect each other’s choices, opinions, feelings and boundaries. The highest form of respect is truly listening to someone when they speak. It builds trust and makes the person feel safe to express themselves. You accept people even if you disagree with them.
- Trust is knowing that you can rely on your partner and that they have your back. You feel supported and reassured. They keep their promises and continue to show up.
- Commitment is showing your love through action not just words. Everyday gestures, no matter how small, show your appreciation. Remember that love is a verb.
- Handle conflicts in a productive way instead of repeating the same old problems. Learn how to be assertive: Start by stating the facts, your thoughts about what you think the problem is. Then state your feelings using “I”message which focuses on you taking ownership for your feelings and reactions thereby not blaming others and reducing defensiveness on their side. This opens up the talks for finding a possible solutions. The next step is putting it all together by making a statement as to what you think would work. This sends a clear message without being passive or aggressive so that both your needs can be met. It also reduces anger, manages the stress and improves relationships.
- A sense of humour always helps. When things are not working out, the first thing to go is the fun and laughter.
Signs of an unhealthy relationship point to issues of power and control as well as dishonesty, resentment, manipulation, belittling, blaming, guilt, possessiveness, demeaning, abusive behaviour, being unsupportive, all of which end up being toxic.
Relationship with yourself – Memo to Self: Take Care
The most important and often most neglected relationship you have is with yourself.
The reality is that you need to put yourself first. There’s nothing wrong about caring for others but not at the expense of your wellbeing. Self care is making time for yourself and not abandoning yourself. Most people will say they are too busy and don’t have the time. Others feel guilty about taking time for themselves.
If you are going to make yourself a priority in life, you have to make the time. Like anything else in life, if it’s important, you will make the time. If you don’t have the time then it’s not a priority. Doesn’t it make sense that if you want to show love and respect for others, you need to start with yourself first.
You are a person of value and deserving of love. You are worth it.
Learn how to cultivate self love.
- Make some quiet time to nurture your thoughts, feelings, values and goals. As you take a moment to breathe, tune inward to nourish your soul with relaxation, meditation, journalling, writing, drawing, painting, listening to music or playing an instrument, going to walk in nature, start a new hobby, try something new.
- Set boundaries. How you treat yourself will show others what you will or won’t accept.
- Learn to say no. Such a small word but yet so difficult to say. You don’t need to feel obliged to say yes nor offer a long list as to why you don’t want.
- Be kind to yourself. Communication with self is the same as for other relationships.
- Become aware of your self talk. Use positive feedback instead of negative criticism.
- Start listening to your true self. Trust your inner voice and flex those intuition muscles.
- Be true to your dreams and desires by taking action to turn them into reality. Love and life is all about taking a risk.
- Respect your body and take care of it with quality sleep, food and exercise.
- Celebrate yourself everyday not just on your birthday. Don’t forget to treat yourself.
Relationship with your Spiritual Heart; Your Connection to the Divine
“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Since we are all humans, we are born to make mistakes. Unconditional love is about acceptance and letting go of the mistakes. Unconditional love has the power to transform and heal. Forget the mistake, learn the lesson and move on. Another word for this is forgiveness.
Holding on has a negative rippling effect in your life as it can take a toll on your body, mind and soul. Holding a grudge is like you taking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.
If you dwell on the hurt, you will bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and experience you have in the future, robbing you of your health, joy, peace of mind and meaningful connections with people.
Fact: Someone hurt you. Fact: You holding on to it means you are keeping the pain alive. Time to heal the wound and stop infecting your life with it.
First of all, let’s clarify some misconceptions about forgiveness.
- Forgiveness is not about forgetting or pretending it never happened.
- Forgiveness does not erase the painful memory but it helps put it in context.
- Forgiveness is not letting the person off the hook for the harm they did or getting even.
- Forgiveness is not about waiting for an apology nor is it conditional.
- Forgiveness is not about reconciliation. Just because you forgive them doesn’t mean you have to hang around with them. You can choose to continue a relationship with them or keep your distance. Once the trust is broken, it is something that needs to be earned.
- Forgiveness is about releasing the bitterness, rage, anger, revenge, resentment and reducing the pain. It allows the healing to begin as you transform from victim to survivor. It is a process that needs time to move through the different stages.
- Forgiveness is a choice you make to stop the physical, emotional and spiritual toxicity.
- Forgiveness sets you free from the past. By not allowing the lingering negatives to contaminate your present life, you can finally move forward, stronger and wiser.
Forgiveness is just as important as breathing. It is a decision you make to reconnect with love. Developing a deeper relationship with a higher power is like any other relationship. It requires work, trust and communication. The gift of forgiveness is unconditional love. As you develop compassion, acceptance and understanding, you learn the lessons along your path. By tapping into an inner awakening of your spiritual core, you realize that the higher power is bigger than us and it’s what connects all living things. It is the healing force. Make the choice to forgive others and and make sure you include yourself as well.
Relationship with your Physical Heart; Go with the Flow
February is also National Heart Month. We all know about the importance of a healthy heart.
It is the power supply for our body and controls the circulation system.The heart pumps blood and delivers oxygen to our cells, muscles and organs as well as removes waste products. Your heart is vital to keep things flowing. Without it nothing else works.
On the physical level, we need to supply the body with healthy nutrition, make sure we get daily physical exercise, manage our stress and get a healthy night’s sleep.
On a psychological level, we need to follow our heart. Our passions fuel our dreams. Don’t be led by your fears. Being in touch with your true feelings and core beliefs allows you to process them and create a healthy flow in your life. Repressed emotions create blocks and can lead to a hardened heart.
On a spiritual level, your heart directs your life. Believe in your heart that you were born to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles. Fill your heart with love, gratitude, hope, faith as you connect with the divine power of life. Your spiritual heart pumps energy into all areas of your life and fills it with joy and bliss.
Love is the greatest gift of all. Your heart is the centre of your being from which positive, creative energies flow. It is the core of one’s humanity. Keeping our relationships healthy requires constant nurturing, maintenance and loving care. Balance your time and energy based on what is valuable to you.
It’s never too late to fall in love with yourself and life. Only then can you truly give and receive love.
Happy St.Valentine’s Antoinette Giacobbe