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"Love Starts With You" by Svetlana Lilova

Much love to my guest writer this week!  Svetlana Lilova is a psychotherapist from Toronto. She offers individual and couple therapy (including Skype sessions for long distance clients), and an array of explorative workshops.

So much is written about love. We read about it, talk about it, touch it whenever we can. Yet, sometimes it remains outside of our daily lives, as an idea, a cliché, or a mere yearning thumping in our veins.

Often, we enter adulthood blind to the patterns that form throughout our young lives. Shaped by our caregivers, by those around us, and by the events that happen to us, these patterns become the default, our automatic way of responding to the world and ourselves. It can take eons to step back and see the boxes we live out of, their cracks and insufficiencies, and attempt something new when they no longer work.

Sometimes, before awakeness sets in (and it can be many sunsets for that to take place), we move through our lives without realizing that change is possible. We do not see ourselves. Sometimes isolation is that cold. There is no one off whom to reflect; to see one’s self. And we have either never witnessed a modeling of something different or it doesn’t occur to us that we no longer have to stay in a pattern.

So, we begin with self-reflection. To revise what no longer works we need to see it first; to see ourselves first. And the seeing needs to be honest and clear. A full digestion of what that has happened thus far, of one’s experiences and actions. With genuine kindness.

Kindness and compassion emerge effortlessly when we connect to our context out of which we have done the unspeakable. When we acknowledge the fullness of our situation, the parts that are likely invisible to others, we begin to breathe again. We find our validity, comprehend ourselves, and re-order our sense of self. It all becomes spacious again, our life, and we can turn toward and discover the possible.

And then we can fully exhale. Then it becomes clear what is no longer necessary. It is in our kindness toward our own fallibility that we can find the courage to get back up and try again, despite the lack of any evidence that we might succeed. It’s the compassion for ourselves that allows us to get past shame or regret over something we’ve done, and truly move on.

Such is the process of psychotherapy. It guides toward a daily practice of wholeness, one in which you don’t have to sever or lock away any part of yourself. Every bit is valuable and integral to who you are. Like the sweep of an arm in a yoga posture that calls forth your entire body, emotional and mental wellbeing calls forth your entire being. At its core is love. It starts with you. Between you and you.


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