“What is Love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.” – Haddaway, May 1993 (I just had to let that one out!)
Love is unconditional. But I have time and again in my practice seen that the objects and objectives of many of our affections these days are misplaced and conditional.
The true meaning of love has been lost in the midst of translation- translating and transitioning from work life to family life, balancing a career and finding your happy medium.
Love is an intimate feeling and expression, which is best realized when you start loving yourself for what you are, for all your strengths and foibles. Once we have accepted who we are in our complete extent with shortcomings and all, we will have learnt to accept those close to us, family, friends and co-workers for who they are. This is the beginning of a love affair that nurtures your soul and fosters productivity in your relationships and careers.
I recall 3 cases vividly that I can cite as examples from my practice last month:
- A successful local entrepreneur was concerned about how he inadvertently pushed away the original core group of employees that he started his company with and the bottom-line was falling profit margins and losing market share to poor service. He had come to realize that he was sucked into the vicious cycle that he had consciously chosen to break 8 years ago when he quit a 6 figure salary job to start something he believed in- only to find himself chasing the fiscal targets and devaluing the people who he relied on to create this beautiful company. Now in his own words, he was staring at a hollow shell of a company that was a mere shadow of its former self and he felt hollow inside for compromising on his original principles. He had grown out of love for his creation and those around him. There was a deep sense of hatred within towards himself. He no longer loved what he did.
- A 44 years old nurse practitioner came in seeking help for “burn out”. She could not get herself to wake up in the mornings to go to work, she exhibited symptoms of fibromyalgia and shifting arthritis. Once an active and bright personality that lit the wards up was increasingly disinterested in her work and disenchanted by the work culture that surrounded her. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was an abrupt end of an 18 year long marriage. A relationship that she had poured her heart and soul into. She reverted back to smoking and drinking to numb her pain.
- A young first time mother was struggling to cope with sleep deprivation and care for a colicky baby. The baby would not latch properly, was not gaining weight the way she should. She was questioning everything she did. She thought she had read up everything her husband and she could read but nothing prepared her for the actual challenges of motherhood. She was fraught with guilt, burdened by a sense of inability to care for her own flesh and blood. Questioning did he have the right to bring a child to this world when she could not care for it. At times, even feeling that she wanted to abandon her child- this in turn worsened her guilt. In her words, she no longer loved the person she had become, so how could she love her child anymore?
The businessman promptly found his calling again after a few doses of Nux vomica which catered to the ‘type A’ personality that he was. The remedy helped him get in touch with the human side of business and he has found a renewed focus to restructure and regroup. His relationship with his partner was also improving- his decisions were no longer rash, anger management was not being an issue any more. Meditation, mindfulness and a self care routine was chalked up to alleviate the stresses that arose from a 100+ hour work week.
Our NP benefitted from some much needed counselling and was helped profoundly by remedies like Natrum muriaticum and Ignatia. Old habits were quickly dropped and the cycle of negative self talk and depreciating self image was quickly quelled and self respect was again on the rise uplifting her morale and a new found vigor and purpose in life by positively impacting people around her is being reported as I write this article. Through our sessions she realized that her marriage had ended some time ago and she was the only one trying hard to make it work. She realized that she could not be happy if her perception of happiness came from someone else giving it to her in a relationship while the two of them were essentially living separate lives.
Staphysagria came to the rescue to our new mum. The overpowering burden of guilt was lifted, other people’s opinions of her in public situations where her baby would cry incessantly did not bother her anymore and she felt more assured of her actions. She felt more calmer and in control of her situations. Sitting in on one of her sessions with me was an eye-opener for her husband, who before this was not able to fully realize the extent of his wife’s post partum depression. He has diligently taken over night shifts with the baby and has been supporting his wife beautifully through this process where she is being proactive about her health and well being.
All 3 cases revolved around Love- Loss of love for one’s livelihood, disappointment in love and loss of love for herself and those closest to her. The first steps to healing were to realize that allowing the negative perceptions of themselves to define them and let them control and consume their lives was toxic. True empowerment came from someone telling them to love yourself like someone worthy of love, respect and compassion, and once you have done that- everything in your life will flow much more effortlessly and joyfully than you can imagine.
Drifting through life- working to inhibit his innate potential, keeping her mind and heart guarded at all times with the urge to keep giving in a one sided relationship and for the young mom who was her harshest critic – they all turned when they realized that their imperfections made them perfect individuals that they were meant to be; when they embraced their dark sides by realizing how they got there, they were on path to get their lives back.
Personal growth is intentional, we have to take ownership of our growth process and this is not an automatic process. It is something that needs to be worked on. The more you learn about yourself the more you realize what you need to work on and how you can improve and become a better person. Putting yourself first is not selfish, this self love allows you increase your capacity to love and share this love with those around you. Living the best version of yourself will inspire those around you to live the best versions of them too.
Remember, if you can love yourself, you will find the ability to love others.
So, take a deep breath, identify your soul and exhale and say “I Am Love”
- Aziz Merchant, BHMS, MDHom