In my world there are no accidents. If I'm listening, everyone is my guru. So here I am at The Center for Living Peace in southern California, teaching a workshop entitled Love You 365 with my friend and workshop co-founder, Kelly Thornton Smith. In the workshop, we focus on what it means to be in loving relationship with yourself. While I'm here, Kelly has a meeting with the woman who is organizing TEDx Orange Coast and asks me if I'd like to join them. I do. Immediately we connect and she decides to attend our workshop the next day. She asks us to speak at TEDx Orange Coast Women. Then she mentions the subject for TEDx Orange Coast: Redefining Relevance. I'm hooked.
We all have our ideas about what is relevant in our lives. If I asked you to write a list of the top five most relevant things in your life, what would they be? Life changes rapidly, and what is relevant today may be totally irrelevant tomorrow. Here's why I love the idea of redefining relevance: Sometimes I forget what is truly relevant. The one thing I know for sure is my relationship with myself is number one on my list. As Aldous Huxley so aptly said, "There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
No matter where I go, what I do, or who I meet, I am always with me. Our culture is wired to keep us looking outside ourselves for satisfaction. Whether it's focusing our energy on a career, a relationship, a project, our kids, our marriage, social issues, how we look, the lack of a relationship, our problems, or our financial issues, at the end of the day we remain faithfully with ourselves.
Years ago I became aware that I had negative self-talk dominating my thoughts. Enter the digital recorder. I decided to try an experiment to take a closer look at what this voice was jabbering about. For one week I kept a small recorder with me at all times, and when I noticed my negative thoughts I stopped and recorded them. Of course, sometimes I'd have to wait to record if I was with people, but I was able to record enough to get the picture. At the end of each day I wrote everything down. What I learned was that I had a lot of judgments about others and myself, and I had an inner critic who was impossible to please. I knew without question that my desire was to live from my highest and best self, which is being the love I wish to see in the world. That's when I knew my work was to shift my relationship with myself from a fear- and doubt-based energy to a loving and honoring energy.
A couple of years ago the book and movie The Secret was big news. It focused on manifesting the life of our dreams, full of advice about vision boards and affirmations to attain our desired result. Of course, there is nothing wrong with manifesting the life we dream of, but the real secret is even after we manifest our imagined life, we won't truly live our bliss until we have a loving and healthy relationship with ourselves.
Have you ever considered how you relate to you? Are you friendly with yourself, or is it a strained relationship? In our workshops we have an exercise where participants look into a mirror and write down all the thoughts that come into their minds. Most people have a negative perspective of themselves. Do you notice a fair amount of complaining, unhappiness, comparing yourself to others, blaming yourself or others, guilt, anger, or resentment? Would you be in relationship with someone who speaks to you the way your negative thoughts do?
We get attached to our thoughts, believe everything we think and allow these thoughts to construct an identity for us. Years ago, there was a bumper sticker, "Question authority." I'm advocating a new tag line, "Question your thoughts."
Our relationship with ourselves encompasses many aspects, including how we treat our bodies, how we choose to think about ourselves, how we relate with others, how we choose to spend our precious time, how we choose to walk through this world. Cultivating a loving relationship with you starts with one thought at a time.
In the end, a relevant question may be... what are you thinking?
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