Life Beyond Therapy
It’s a new year. Most of us want some things to change. We’d like more money, a better job, our partner to drop their annoying habits, our boss to be nicer, our car to be newer … that kind of stuff.
But, bottom line, don’t most of us want to have more love in our lives? Material stuff is fun, but isn’t the purpose of it to feel better and be happier (at least until we get the credit card bills)?
Why not play big this year and go for more love? We all want to feel more loved and more loving, but, in this shady age of Trumpian chaos and cruelty, how can we get there? Here are some ideas:
More love for your body: Many of us hate our body, or parts of it. We think that this will motivate us to improve it. Wrong. More love for your body may be the only sustainable way to get healthier. One thing I like to do: take the part of my body I like the least (at the moment, it’s my love handles) and shower it with love and kindness. Apologize to this body part for being so mean and unkind to it in the past. Also, try appreciating all the parts of the body that do work really well. It helps keep everything running smoothly.
More love for your finances: If you find yourself complaining about a lack of money, notice how that doesn’t bring more money. When you pay a bill, instead of complaining (“Damn, that SDG&E bill is just crazy high”), try, “I’m grateful that I have the money to pay this bill.” It really flips it. If you’re self-employed (as I am) and business is slow, don’t complain. Be grateful for the customers you do have, and, soon you’ll have more. Promise!
More love for your work: If you can’t wait to get a new job (or new boss), notice that talking about how much things suck just makes you feel worse. Instead, focus on the people you love at work and the parts of the job that you do enjoy. Tell the universe: “Thank you for this job. It supported me for a while, and I appreciate that. I’m now ready for a great new job that’s even better.” Not only will you get a new job faster, but you’ll feel better until it comes through.
More love for the people in your life: It’s not hard to love your friends, but what about loving your “enemies”? Let’s take Donald Trump, for example, how could I possibly love him? A wise friend recently told me: “The people in your life that annoy you do things that you do too, and Trump is a mirror for us all.” She’s right: there really isn’t an “us” and a “them”…there’s only “us”. Does Trump exaggerate, lie, try to get his way, think he’s totally right and enjoy pissing people off? Well, so do I (at times). I could say, in protest: “But, I don’t do it as much as he does.” Sorry, no pass. It’s the same behavior. There’s only “us,” my friends.
More love for your car and other drivers: I struggle with impatience on the freeways. One of my teachers told me, “When you get in your car, send love ahead of you to the other drivers and expect that you’ll encounter only good drivers.” It sounded too New Age-y to me, but I tried it and it helps. I’ve also come up with other ways to send other drivers some love: I imagine that they may be on their way to the ER with a sick child/partner/pet. I imagine that maybe they just came from their parent’s funeral, or that they just got fired from their job. That helps me access compassion instead of judgment.
You probably see a theme here: focus on what works in your life and remind yourself of it often. Realize that — whether we’re Donald Trump or the Dalai Lama — we’re all in same boat: struggling onwards as best we can, given the talents and limitations we have.
Try some of these techniques and may you find that 2020 is your most love-filled year ever.