World over, the month of February is famed as the month of love. It is very often characterised by amorous gestures on every platform possible as huge profits are posted in commercial activities that celebrate expressions of love in various styles and grandeur.
inspiration with Cynthia C Hakutangwi
For the hopeless romantics, this can be a nerve wrecking time as they anxiously await for their “knights in shining armour” to suddenly appear from some mystical hidden place, riding on the chariots of this opportunity as they come bearing warm endearing gifts and declarations of previously unspoken love. Sadly, this month does not spare us the drama and heartbreak that also come with unreturned love and disappointed expectations of affection. While some fortunate ones are spoilt for choice with trolley loads of flower bouquets and gifts from secret admirers, there are those who will remain spectators, not always necessarily out of choice. The energy, passion, sacrifice and desire to connect with a soul mate all melt in a sizzling pot of love in this precious month of February.
How deep is your love for the brand called You?
Love is a supreme emotion which affects everything we feel, think, do and become. We cannot ignore the power it has over our lives. Each love — whether familial, platonic or romantic — represents a distinct part of who we are as people. We do different things with each, enjoy different parts of their personalities, and feel fulfilled in different ways. Fulfilling relationships are reflective of invested time and commitment. While being connected and loved is very important, I believe that the greatest gift we can give ourselves is learning to love and embrace who we are first. How much do you love yourself? Do you appreciate what you have been created to become? Working with individuals in their personal development pursuits, I have recognised a common thread that haunts many individuals in spite of their race, age, or tribe. I have traced that to faulty foundations in self-definition and poorly defined authentic personal identity. One of the reasons why individuals may feel like they are in a prison emanates from prolonged periods of living fictional lives in order to measure up to unrealistic standards set by systems, culture, practices and people around them who enslave them to fit into unreasonable moulds. It is this same cancer that has destroyed innovation and creative thinking in families, organisations and communities. How much do you love yourself and how do you invest in your personal wellbeing before you extend of yourself outwards?
A fictional life is draining
While many individuals may find it easier to fill the roles their family and friends expect of them, rather than becoming who they really want to be, living such a fictional life drains the critical life energy they need to pursue the things they truly value. The temptation towards self-hatred because of biological and physical attributes or other that cannot be altered is highly destructive. I have met individuals who hate absolutely everything about who they are. They hate their body, their face, their hair, their shape, their voice, the way they move, their thoughts, and literally everything they do. They glow with admiration of everyone else around them but themselves. In some instances, others can even hurt themselves and a part of them feels great because they believe they are hurting something so horrible. I am not advocating that we overlook our areas of weakness and settle for mediocrity, but rather that we forgive ourselves in areas where we have failed, accept where we are and apply ourselves to be the best we can be using excellence as a standard. While they may appear to exist a very thin line between excellence and perfectionism, the latter feels constrictive, judgemental, painful, and is fuelled by feelings of lack, of wanting to be accepted and liked. Excellence on the other hand is honourable, accepting, and is fuelled by feelings of love and pure intentions of being in service and becoming a better version of yourself each day. When your behavioural life, your public persona is at odds with the values, beliefs, desires, passions and visions that define your authentic self, then it is possible you may be living a fictional life that has you ignoring your true gifts and talents while performing assigned or inherited roles instead.
You are worth loving
During this month of love, as you contemplate on how to uniquely express your love towards the significant people in your life, take time to reflect on what you are doing to love and appreciate yourself. Some of the relationships we find ourselves in may not be entirely fulfilling and some of them even border on being abusive. We may sometimes tolerate this to maintain the peace and oftentimes to protect other vulnerable or fragile elements involved. This is not always healthy for our wholeness and wellbeing because we run the risk of becoming emotionally bankrupt or dysfunctional in many ways. Loving yourself by thinking, speaking, and acting in kind consideration of the precious individual that you have been created to be is a starting point.
Avoid the temptation of trying to please everyone around you at the expense of your wellbeing because other people may be too busy with their lives to pick you up when you break down. Instead of beating yourself down and expending your resources trying to seek out the attention and approval of others, take time to first love yourself. In loving yourself, you will find wholeness — it also becomes easier to attract other whole people who can meaningfully extend their love to you.
Cynthia Hakutangwi is a communications and personal development consultant, life coach, author and strategist. She serves as the executive director of Africa Reform Institute, an organisation whose mandate is to enable citizen participation in value-based leadership for sustainable socioeconomic development in Africa. She can be contacted on: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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