Around a month ago, I was asked by a gavel club member, about what is more important – is it more important to receive love or is it more important to give love?
Pausing to give him the reply, I realized the enormity of memories that affect us, through experiences that gave us happiness, love, security, rejection, and pain. Looking at my own life, I’ve realized that I had probably one of the happiest childhood that anyone could dream of. I was born to a couple who showered me with love and affection, and their relatives, who too were generous in their expression of affection for me. Our home was a place that was full of laughter and conversations. There also existed a beautiful warm atmosphere of security, thanks to the bond that we shared – the love that my parents had for my brother and me and of course for each other.
When I ask myself whether my ability to show my affection and regard was affected by the love and happiness I had received in abundance as a child. The answer is a “Yes!”. In all humility, I don’t know if I may have been able to express my affection like the way I do today if I had grown up in a home where I experienced security deprivation and scarcity of love and joy. I do believe that for many of us unless we have received in plenty of the positive emotions and feelings during our growing years, we may not feel or have enough to express adequately these feelings or emotions. At the same time, we cannot be categorical in that statement, since there will always be many who are beacons of love and compassion, no matter they have received little of it in their childhood years.
So what exactly happens when a person receives little of what they deserve to know about receiving love, affection, joy and security? Do they remain forever scarred? At a recent conference, I was asked this question by the moderator of my session. Unfortunately, the time for my session did not permit me to elaborate on the answer. My take on that question is that while the memories will affect, they need not affect a person’s life to the extent that they disable the power of positive feelings to the extent that they have little to share with others.
Like in the case of Jay* or Seena*, who came from different families and both received little joy in their frugal childhood years. Subjected to the trauma of seeing their already impoverished home being torn apart because of alcoholism, they grew up, cautious, hard-working and committed to lead a life that they can be secure about. Interestingly, today they lead lives that are mindful, engage not only in a healthy lifestyle (both are teetotallers) but promote values that not only provides security and love in their families but in the lives of others as well.
How can we enable those who have few cheerful memories of the past to lead a life that is well lit by the glint of optimism and hope?
1) Acceptance of the past.
One of the hardest parts of overcoming the past or a traumatic and painful incident is accepting it occurred and had affected us. The first step in healing our hurt is through the acceptance it occurred.
2) Paying attention to the moment.
Our past does not define us or what we can be. By focusing on what we do and what we would like to do to develop ourselves, we begin a process of bringing about a desirable change in our life. Being mindful goes a long way is making a positive change in our lives. Concentrating on every moment enables us to experience each day with a sense of completeness and more importantly, awareness.
3) Be your best friend.
I’m not sure how many of you know this, but we are actually our best friend. Silence our inner critic by gently turning the harsh self-criticism into suggestions for continuous improvement and growth. The best part about forming an alliance with ourself is that no matter how well or mediocre we do anything, the suggestions that we give ourselves will be always kind yet honest. Every action will be dealt with as an opportunity to grow and develop and become better. As they say, “The road to success is always under construction”.
4) Importance of Self-care
No matter how much we love your loved ones, we need to remember to love ourself dearly too. Taking care of ourself begins with developing healthy habits and lifestyle practices. Eating nutritious food, exercising, meditating, following a regular sleeping and waking time and regularly practising yoga all contribute to leading a life that is focused on optimism and progress.
Developing a concern and compassion for others wellbeing is a great way to not just do our bit for making the world a better place, but it’s the right step to lead a happier and purposeful life. This step is not one that needs to be seen as a stepping stone to success, but one that defines our very existence for having been born as a human and member of society.
As Warren Buffett once said,
“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”
And help need not always be through money, it could be by being a provider of advice, being a sensitive listener, sharing our knowledge for a particular situation’s success and so on. The choice to be one who cherishes life, despite the challenges of the past lies with us alone. It is only by accepting that the trauma of the past cannot hurt the present or the future that one can celebrate life without inhibition or regrets.
*Names changed to protect identity.