Many years ago, my therapist asked me what I know for certain about myself. I was stumped. She tried to simplify by asking “What do you like?” I stared blankly at her and said, “I really don’t know.”
It’s painful to write those words now because it’s horribly sad to have veered so far away from yourself and your core that you can’t answer a simple question about what you like. In the moment, I felt empty, blank, lost. I had ignored warnings in my body that I was off-course, or I didn’t know what to do about the warnings anyway.
She waited for my answer. “Scarves,” I said, “I like scarves.” She smiled warmly, asked me why, and said we were making progress. I paused for a moment. “I like scarves because they symbolize autumn to me, and that’s my favorite season. I like autumn because there’s a settling in the air. The heat of summer subsides (yes, even in LA), kids go back to school, my family has dinner together as the evenings get cooler, and the
re’s a sense of renewal.” She said this was KEY.
I didn’t get it then. I didn’t understand why she asked me what I liked, and I felt silly for my answer. I still felt off-track, confused. In hindsight, it’s quite apparent to me that I had lost any shred of connection with myself. I was at war with both my body and my mind, and I was losing. I didn’t see the value in my own feelings; they seemed erratic and messy. I had to bend to the whim of outside circumstances anyway, so why did it matter if I felt depressed or worried or if I liked scarves?
Asking me about scarves was her way of inching me toward myself, creating a reason for me to go within. She validated that answer like it was glorious truth, and I slowly started to see that it was not only okay to value my answers but also to make life decisions based on them.
When I started to value my feelings – the ones really rooted in my body, felt in my legs and heart – and count them as truth of experience, I approached everything differently. A seemingly tiny shift let me explore and honor my feelings, live in the world as ME, and relate to others from that vantage point. It wasn’t that negative things stopped happening; it was that I had the choice to stop and feel, the choice to thoughtfully respond from my own perspective of the world.
When I started to invest in my own value and feed myself with validation, I showed up for me. An amazing feeling. A spiral of light and confidence that’s nourishing and sustainable. I found ways to honor the things I liked – by sending myself pats on the back or seeking things out just because I like them, just because they bring me joy. Turns out, that joy fuels all sorts of successes and dreams.