“Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”
This Valentine’s Day, I leave for my first two-week vacation by myself in … I literally don’t know how long. I’m excited, proud of myself, and so pleased that I have finally given myself enough space to dive deeply into a few of the things I love: writing, hiking, meditating. It’s taken me 61 years to get here, and I’ve only found my way to this moment by stumbling over and over again through the sandpits of perfectionism, martyrdom, victimhood, and ignorance.
I’ve been ignorant about the need for and value of centering myself in my days. I’ve been captivated by the false trophies of believing that I could handle more than others, and ought to shoulder more than others. And I’ve been deeply confused about my worth—thinking that somehow more suffering, or more challenge, or more striving meant something about my value. Taking time for myself seemed selfish, unnecessary, and undeserved. And these beliefs have led me to moments of exhaustion, frustration, world-weariness, and ineffectiveness, not to mention unhappiness, resentment, and an ongoing undercurrent of irritation.
The pandemic triggered many of these old patterns for me—believing that I had to show up everywhere and feeling as though I was never quite enough. The good news, though, is that—after decades of paying attention to what works for us in terms of recalibration of a happier and healthier life, and of what works for me in particular—I have been able to recover with a deepened commitment to caring for myself, in a more balanced way. Caring for myself in order that I may return to caring for others. Caring for myself so that I have enough joy in the well to create ripples of positivity around me. Attending to and investing in what I love so that I might bring elevation to others, inspiring them to love what they love as well.
I won’t be with my partner on Valentine’s Day—and that is just fine, for I will be with the one person who will benefit most deeply from my attention in this moment. And this choice, far from causing harm to my relationship or any of those I guide, parent, mentor, counsel, or hang with, will actually enliven my work, my play, and my care when I return.
Happy Valentine’s Day—and by that I mean, Happy Love of Who You Are and What You Love Day!
Find out about Maria’s new course, Masterful Self-Care, beginning March 7.
Dr. Maria Sirois is a master teacher, facilitator, and author. She is devoted to the science of well-being and the art of crafting a life and work that embodies health, passion, and success. As a positive psychologist (PsyD) and international consultant, she focuses on the resilience of the human spirit, particularly when under chronic stress, during significant transitions, and/or feeling the shock of wholesale change. Known for her wisdom, authenticity, and rampant humor, Maria brings a depth of experience in personal and leadership development for corporate and nonprofit professionals, as well as community members and those who serve in the health and wellness arenas. For those who seek personal transformation and an increase in meaning, happiness, and health, she brings a wealth of perspective and research from decades of study in the mind/body medicine and resilience disciplines. Her first entree into the territory of wellness was as a volunteer at the then-groundbreaking Benson-Henry Mind/Body Institute in Boston, where she learned to offer mindfulness practice and stress-reduction techniques to those suffering from chronic and acute pain. Her work today integrates this perspective with the tenets of wholeness found in positive psychology. With world thought leader Tal Ben-Shahar and WBI CEO and cofounder Megan McDonough, Maria co-leads a year-long certificate program for executives, educators, entrepreneurs, counselors, and the general public. In addition, Maria is the author of two books, A Short Course in Happiness After Loss (And Other Dark, Difficult Times) and Every Day Counts (Lessons in Love, Faith and Resilience from Children Facing Illness). For more about her work, visit mariasirois.com.