In light of it being Valentine’s Day, I will not be writing about finding a job you love. That’s far too obvious. After all, being in a job you love is often not so obvious to find.
I decided to have a little look into the source of this annual celebration of love. What I found most interesting about Saint Valentine, is that he stood up for what he believed in, regardless of the status quo.
THE REAL VALENTINE
In the third century AD, Emperor Claudius II had decided that married men made bad soldiers. So, being a priest, Saint Valentine performed weddings for them in secret. He also ministered to persecuted Christians and eventually got sent off to be executed. Whilst in jail, he fell in love with the daughter of the judge and, so the story goes, cured her of her blindness. As a farewell note to his beloved he signed off a note with “your Valentine”.
What I like most about this story, is that Saint Valentine stayed true to what was important to him and carried out his quest from a space of compassion and purpose.
He was aligned with his values.
Side note: As a career coach, I do not advocate getting yourself killed over a new career conquest (just in case you wondered).
The word ‘valentine’ stems from the Latin roots meaning ‘strong and healthy’. The word ‘value’ has origins from the middle English word to mean ‘worth’ – that which is important to us, to hold merit. Incidentally, the word ‘valiant’ also has roots in the word meaning ‘worth’. It means to be brave, courageous, bold.
To create change in our lives, be that in our career or otherwise, it takes strength, courage and alignment with what is important to us.
We do indeed need to find our Valentine. But it’s the one inside ourselves.
Valentine’s Day is not the only historical concept of the heart that we carry over into the modern world. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart (rather than the brain) was the source of all human wisdom. It contained all our emotions, our memory and soul.
So when we say today, ‘speak from the heart’ or ‘listen to your heart’, we are reflecting the image of the heart borne from the ancient Egyptians.
Today, research is showing us that the Egyptians may not have been so far off the mark as we once thought.
The HeartMath Institute (HMI) is a non-profit organisation based in Boulder Creek, CA, and focuses on research and education into the intelligence of the heart. It’s mission is, “to help people bring their physical, mental and emotional systems into balanced alignment with their heart’s intuitive guidance.”
I first came across HeartMath via the documentary film, I Am (watch it!). In the interview with HeartMath, its Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Rollin McCraty Ph.D, explained how intuition is actually starting to be measured.
THE HEART SPEAKS
In an experiment, a volunteer was wired up and sat in front of a screen that would flash up images which were separated by six second intervals.
The results found that the heart started to respond to an image a whole five seconds before it was shown.
Whether the image was pleasant or distressing, the heart had already responded appropriately. This premature response from the heart was only then followed by a response from the brain on sight of the image, leading to a physiological response from the body.
HeartMath also found that the heart actually sends more information to the brain than the brain does to the heart. The heart has an intricate network of neural pathways, containing proteins, neurotransmitters and other complicated scientific stuff. It is in fact such a complex network, that it can be categorised as a ‘brain’ on the heart, and has been termed the ‘heart-brain‘.
So, when those niggling feelings or insights of intuition pop up, listen. It may really be your heart communicating with you.
FIND YOUR COMPASS
Some people may not deem themselves as intuitive, so it may bring some comfort to know that we really do have it within us. However, how do we tap into this?
If you’re in the midst of a mid-career crisis, you may have had some well-intentioned advice to ‘follow you heart’ or been asked ‘what does your heart tell you?’. For some of us, that may be hard to decipher.
Much of the time our head takes up way too much bandwidth and we loose track of what lights us up from deep inside. All the reasoning, procrastinating, doubt, fear and excuses that our mind manufactures stops us from moving in a new direction.
Understanding what our values are, is fundamental to finding our True North.
We all can think of Universal values, such as kindness, love, compassion and so on, but we each define things in our own way. So what do those actually mean to us? And what about our personal values? Those things that may repel one person may be another person’s lifeline.
Understanding your values will provide you with a compass to navigate your way onto a path that brings you fulfilment.
CURIOSITY IS KEY
If you’re feeling a little lost around this subject, just remain open and stay curious. Start to pay attention to the little messages that your heart is sending you. Start to explore the things that seem to ‘randomly’ pop up in your mind.
Maybe they’re not so random after all.
If you’re looking for something practical, you can start to create an ‘Ideas Bank’, somewhere where you can store your ideas – this may involve writing down ideas, finding images that speak to you, finding actual job specs that have interesting elements. Anything that stirs some kind of bodily reaction. This will start to create a fuller picture of what makes your heart sing.
This process will mean having courage to listen to the messages that are being ignored, have the strength to persevere and continue regardless of the naysayers, and most importantly stay in tune with what you hold valuable.
It means remembering your inner Valentine.
Hello! I’m Gemma!
I’m a Career Change Coach and
I’m here to help you get unstuck, find clarity in your working life and take brave, actionable steps towards fulfilment and purpose through career change.
Find out more