I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite some time. I can’t just decide to sit down and write. I can, but it usually doesn’t go well. Thoughts come to me at unusual times. Occasionally when I’m running the bath water for my kids at night. Sometimes when I’m walking down the street alone. Perhaps the fresh air and some time to myself—a clear head of sorts—helps. But if I don’t write things down, I often forget my thoughts, no matter how wonderful I think they are or how much I swear I’ll remember them. As I sit here now to gather my thoughts on Valentine’s Eve, I’m not certain that I have them all together, but I felt strongly that today was the day to publish this because...
I’ve also been thinking about what I should post for Valentine’s Day. I knew it couldn’t be a fashion post because while I do “love” a good outfit, my heart is much more powerful than that. Some, like my husband, think it’s a Hallmark holiday—one that’s exploited by the company to sell more $6 cards. (Interestingly enough, he still purchases them.) Regardless, today is universally recognized as 24 hours of love. Without sounding selfish on a day when I’m supposed to be expressing love for others, I have learned that the most important love in life is the one you have for yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself, even while acknowledging all of your imperfections, the world can be a challenging place. And I believe that the biggest factor contributing to loving yourself is the ability to have faith.
When I talk about the importance of having faith, I’m not referring to religious faith. While that is certainly part of it for me, I know that some people don’t do the whole religion thing. For several months, as I’ve worked to get my groove back, I’ve become a lot more introspective. And the unfortunate truth is that there have been many days during which I’ve seen the glass as half empty. As I recall the mistakes I’ve made—the ones I’ve lived to regret the most—I realize that I made them because I didn’t have faith. I didn’t trust in myself enough to believe that I’d get through whatever life brought my way. I didn’t believe that I’d somehow figure it out and make the best of it, even if my greatest fears became reality.
This isn’t a novel concept. I’m not saying anything others—many who are much wiser than I--haven’t said before. Some refer to it as energy—what you put out is what you get back. Some will tell you that the world is a mirror and that life is a reflection of how you view it through your lens. And then there’s that idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Whichever you buy into, it all boils down to maintaining optimism, having positive thoughts, and believing that things will work out. Having faith.To me, that seems to be the key to a happy and fulfilled life. Even in your darkest hours, you have to believe that you will eventually get through this, whatever “this” is.
There’s another popular saying to which we can all relate. “Easier said than done.” If we believe everything I just wrote, why is it sometimes so difficult to direct our thoughts? As I reflect on my loss of faith and some of the regrettable decisions I’ve made, I think the answer is that our past mistakes and failures can sometimes leave us with scars and an unhealthy dose of fear. When we are faced with uncertainty or a situation that seems insurmountable, the familiar feelings of loss and pain and the fear of history repeating itself, cause us to lose faith. After all, when life presents a challenge, failure is certainly the easier option.
It is during those moments when we fear the worst that we must remind ourselves that we are bigger and better than our greatest obstacle. They say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But I believe that’s an evolution. When tragedy or failure strike, you’re immediately anything but stronger. You are devastated and broken. You may feel like curling up into a fetal position in a dark room and never leaving. Sometimes we stay in that place longer than what is ideal. But for most of us, we eventually dig our way out. And while we may not always be the same person as we were before, we’ve survived. We’ve also learned a few things from the experience. In some cases, we’ve learned a valuable lesson of what didn’t work so we never choose that path again. In other cases, the only learning may be that it didn’t actually kill us and that we possess the ability to carry on. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s reminding yourself that you were strong enough to survive the worst. You survived that feeling that your heart will never mend or the worry that life may never be the same.
Every day, not just Valentine’s Day, we need to love ourselves. We need to have faith in our personal strength and resilience. We need to remember that we are responsible for our individual happiness and that every day is a choice. While we may not have a choice about certain circumstances in our lives, we have a choice about our perspective and approach to it all. We have a choice to give up or fight. We have a choice to either believe the worst or hope for the best. We can choose gratitude and show appreciation for life’s gifts, however small they may be. Focus on what you have versus what you lack. Remind yourself of your successes. Love and trust yourself enough to believe you’ll figure it out. Have faith. Happy Valentine’s Day to you! My gift to you is this song. You’re “me”—sing this to yourself when you need it.