It’s February 16th and Valentine’s Day has now come and gone. Millions of people around the globe honored their loved ones with cards, chocolates, flowers, etc., on this infamous day. Yet, how many truly honor themselves? How many stand up for what they want and speak their truth? How many have a negative self-view and constantly berate themselves for not being slim enough or pretty enough or for not owning a bigger house or fancier car?
These are the questions I am asking today. Questions that go deeper than a simple Hallmark greeting.
For me, a new version of The Golden Rule could be: Are you treating your self the way you would want to be treated by others? Are you being kind to yourself more often than not? Do you truly, deeply love yourself? Are you walking your talk of self love or are you making compromises in order to "not rock the boat"?
If your answer to these questions is mostly yes, great! Sounds like you are on a fulfilling path of self love. Keep up the transformational work!
If you answered no, consider what it might take to have you answer yes to all 3 questions. For some, it takes a horrible illness or disease to have the courage to live the life they want. For others, it takes financial ruin.
Ultimately, though, if a person is to move towards self love after a devastating illness or financial ruin, a chain reaction towards a person’s “Phoenix Process”, as renowned author and speaker Elizabeth Lesser calls it, must be catalyzed. The Phoenix Process is the process of breaking fully open after a catastrophic event or trauma and subsequently doing the painstaking work to rebuild oneself. It is thought to be a regeneration or rebirth of great proportion, as referenced through Greek mythology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).
Is it necessary to go through such a life-changing trauma in order to reinvent yourself? Of course not; however, major life events call in to question everything a person has known up to that date. People tend to live more intentionally during this transformation and typically only have energy for those people and things that truly excite them. It is a beautiful process to observe, however scary it may feel from the inside.
You may ask, "Why is a physician talking about transformation and self love?". Well, for one, as a physician, I’ve had the honor and privilege of guiding many of my patients through their Phoenix Process. Perhaps they are dying from cancer or are getting their life back from debilitating chronic pain through various lifestyle changes they have implemented (it does happen). Or maybe they are battling addiction and have been sober or cigarette-free for 21 days. Whatever the case may be, I feel honored to be there, on the front lines, with my patients through their transformation.
Secondly, I am also someone who has been through a few Phoenix processes and as such, I know how scary and liberating the experience can be. I am currently in such a process as we speak.
And thirdly, in most cases, self-love translates to health as it sets the tone for the way people live their lives. Whether or not you choose to eat well, abstain from smoking and drugs, exercise and treat yourself mostly stems from self love. And all of these factors influence your health. Of course, no-one can eat perfectly and choose only healthy behaviors 100% of the time, but we definitely ALL have room for improvement. And this doesn't mean that all physically healthy people are emotional healthy, nor is it vice versa. But, when you have a healthy self image, you tend to choose healthier behaviors that perpetuate your self love. Oh, and healthy behaviors make you FEEL good! :)
As the allegorical author, C.S Lewis once said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
So, looking at your life...ask yourself: Have you hatched? Are you ready to fly? Or, conversely, are you okay with remaining an egg? (All answers are perfectly fine just something to think about).
Have a great week and happy belated Valentine’s Day (aka Self-Love Day),
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.