And now for something a little different, and only because it’s Christmas. A time to set aside our grievances, our stresses, our fears. It’s a time for giving. A time to reflect on all that we have in life. A time to forgive, to be grateful, to be loving and to appreciate all that we have in life. It is time for love, actually. I sit here reflecting on one of the most momentous years of my life and I am reminded of the power of love. Love inspires, love connects, love deepens, love hurts. Love to me is always flowing, it flows through our veins, through our spirit, through our connection to others. It is always seeking, always expanding, always present in its many guises.
It is easy to forget the simple things in life when we are moving at a thousand miles an hour. It is so easy to get caught up in the noisiness of life. I received a wonderful ‘mindfulness’ advent calendar a couple of weeks ago. Every day I am reminded to take time to pause, reflect and be super conscious of a specific daily activity. It’s a brilliant idea and a constant reminder to me to slow down, take stock and to remind me that love is all around.
Love is not a thing. It’s a feeling. It’s the energetic flow that connects us to one another. When we experience love, we feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Love gives us hope. Love validates who we are. Love deepens our capacity for humanness. Love cannot be touched or handled. There is no love you buy off the shelf. It is something that is cultivated within.
Love actually shows up in many different ways. And as humans we experience love differently. Gary Chapman once wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. He refers to the five different ways to express and experience love. These are receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. It’s a great read if you are wondering how to inspire the love of your life this Christmas. (https://www.5lovelanguages.com)
The power of love is extraordinary. I saw a quote the other day that described grief as love that can’t be fully expressed. The deep pain we feel when someone else’s love for us has gone. The pain we feel when we lose someone can be unbearable. And yet, despite the pain we feel when the love of another is gone, we continue to seek ever expansive ways of connecting, of deepening, of finding our way to experience love. Time does heal and in my experience, we come through the dark tunnel into a different kind of light, a different kind of perspective. We are often immeasurably changed. But always new pathways open up to us that we would never have thought possible.
Finding it in our hearts to explore and expand self love is perhaps one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself this Christmas. Too often we seek confirmation of love through the purchasing of ‘things’ or the validation of another. Our never ending satiability for more and more stuff. Actually, the love we feel within, the words we express to ourselves, the emotions we feel are so incredibly important. Falling in love with ourselves. Being kind. Finding time to do the small things that light us up. Putting ourselves at the top of the tree and not at the bottom. Constantly telling ourselves how important we are, that we are enough, we are perfection. Self love rituals are not selfish. They are incredibly unselfish. The more we love who we are, the greater capacity we have to love others.
Forgiveness is one of the light switches to bring in more love into your life. Forgiving others can be such a hard thing to do. We feel anger, frustration and pain at the things others have ‘done to us’. But all we are doing is allowing pain to fester and to eat away at our very core. And self forgiveness can be even harder. To truly look in the mirror and forgive our mistakes. But it is one of the keys to unlock the pain buried in our hearts and freeing ourselves.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of all is that of unconditional love. Unconditional love is an active choice to love another without expectations or rewards. Can you imagine a world where we truly live from a place of unconditional love? Where we don’t have a spoken or unspoken contract of if I do this for you then you will do this for me? Giving, being, sharing, caring without ever asking for anything in return.
Pay it Forwards this Christmas
Whilst you contemplate what you can do to magnify love this Christmas, let me suggest a practical idea. Why not begin a series of ‘pay it forwards’. Of giving small things without expectations of anything in return. Perhaps leave a chocolate bar on the desk of a colleague. Volunteer at a homelessness centre. Send a card to someone in prison. Pay for the toll of the car behind. There are hundreds of things we can do to show our love for others. You never know, you might just brighten their day or, as a dear friend of mine said a few weeks ago, save their life.
Love actually is the thread that knits humankind together. Let us deepen the love in this world this Christmas by showing up with strong self love, forgiveness, connection and human kindness.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful, peaceful and loving Christmas.