I’ve written a few blog posts as of late about giving – giving to others, giving to your relationship, as well as how to be aware of the imbalance of giving and how over-giving can cause harm to you and your relationship. In this post, I’m going to talk about a different form of giving – self-love. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how hard people can be on themselves. I see it in therapy all the time. It can range from not feeling worthy to extreme shame and self-loathing. I feel so sad because, as I get to know the people I work with, I grow to care a great deal for them. I hope to put a huge dent in this problem. Join me in embracing self-love – this is how to do it!
I love the concept of pay it forward. I still have the ‘torn up check’ that my hairdresser returned to me over twenty years ago because she knew that I could not afford the haircut. All these years later, she is still my hairdresser and dear friend. And I have ‘paid it forward’ many times as well!
However, I want to suggest something in addition to the concept of “pay it forward” and “random acts of kindness”.
Recently, someone shared with me recognition that when someone compliments him, he politely says thank you but does not fully embrace the compliment. He doesn’t fully embrace the compliment because he is thinking “but if you really knew me”. “Oh,” I said, “you mean that humanness in you.” Meaning that all of us have insecurities, things that we don’t like about ourselves, moments when we feel shame for our actions. Meaning our personal challenges that we all experience and the ‘humanness’ that we all share. I feel it is compelling to share with you that this person is a much-admired spiritual leader. The reason that I share this with you is because this is a global challenge; we all struggle from time to time with self-love! Another person shared that she is great at taking care of others but feels terribly uncomfortable if she does something for herself. This could include cooking only for her (healthy, nurturing cooking), buying a new piece of clothing and so on. I smiled warmly and said, “Well then, you must do it and be uncomfortable.”
The reason I said this to her is because any time we do something new that is not in our comfort zone we will feel uncomfortable. My mantra is “comfort zones are expanded through discomfort”. Well, I can’t take full credit for this mantra, I heard a yoga teacher make this statement while doing Yin Yoga! I thought “what a perfect metaphor for life.” So what I am suggesting to you today in this blog may be out of your comfort zone, but hopefully, eventually, it will be in your comfort zone.
Here is my question to you!
What did you do today that you embraced as self-love?
What is self-love? Overall, of course, it is when we love who we are as a person. But I am referring to moments, moments that we tend to write off as part of the day, or no big deal. I want you to embrace these moments, be mindful of them and really take them in and turn them into self-love. Meaning, try embracing a compliment that someone gives you. Or even transform a compliment that you gave as a show of self-love. Or when you took the time to acknowledge a quality in someone when you could have just left it unsaid.
You might recognize when you were patient at a time when it was not so easy to do – embrace this moment as self-love. Or acknowledge when you saw someone and thought to yourself “wow, they are beautiful” and maybe you thought that on a day when you were not feeling great about yourself – take the next step – self-love. Take in these things that you do, of course as giving, but also as self-love. Maybe you smiled at someone even if you were having a bad day – you never know, that smile may have given him or her a much-needed boost. Someone once said to me “giving to another is a validation of self”. I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time but my interpretation is “giving to another person is a show of love for you as well”.
I think that people feel amazing when they give to another person, but they tend to stop there. Go further – take this in as a reason to love you.
Maybe you spent some precious time worrying about a friend. Just as I’m typing this, I got a text from my daughter. My 3-year-old (almost four!) grandson bumped his head on my dining room table earlier today. I felt terrible. I held him until he stopped crying and put something on it, so it didn’t bruise (arnica). The text was a picture of him watching a movie (happy) and letting me know that, in addition to being happy, there was no bump or bruise. She did not have to do this, and yet it made my day. But I doubt that she took the next step, which would be to embrace this thoughtfulness into self-love.
Finding reasons to love you does not always need to be something that we do for others or even something that takes a good amount of time. You can simply acknowledge how hard you work, or a kind thought you had about someone, or when you wanted to be judgmental and held back, or when you gave someone the benefit of the doubt, or you were patient in traffic when someone was driving slow in front of you. Maybe you initially felt jealous about something but then took a step back and choose to be happy for that person. Maybe you forgave someone, and that was not easy to do.
Maybe you nourished your body with healthy food or a walk, your body is grateful and a reason to love you for it. Maybe you didn’t criticize yourself today, or maybe you didn’t compare yourself with someone that ultimately made you feel bad about you. Recognize not only the things that you do BUT what you don’t do, and then give yourself credit. Maybe you showed yourself a show of love by not accepting blame, guilt or shame that is not yours to take. I watched a video the other day of a woman who bought coffee for someone who was fat-shaming her at a donut shop. She said she wanted to rise about it. But, I wondered if she took the next step and recognized this act as an act of self-love.
Another thought, I think that we live in a culture that discourages expression of self-love. I’m not referring to people who are clearly ‘full of themselves’, I am referring to those of us who feel it is an expression of bragging or conceit if we share something that simply made you feel good about you. We tend to shame people if they express something that made them feel good about themselves. I do understand how challenging it can be to share something that inspired feelings of self-love. I struggle too. But, I encourage you to share something that you felt proud of, what ever that might be. Express to those that you love and trust, those that you want to celebrate you, and you can encourage them to do the same.
I write (mostly) about relationships. So role model loving you so others will follow your lead in loving you and loving themselves. Spread the love. What ever it is that makes you feel unworthy or unlovable, try to recognize all that you do and embrace self-love. Accept the humanness in yourself and others.
Share with me your reasons for self-love, and we can celebrate it together! Okay, I’ll go first (yikes, not easy to do!). The other day I was behind a woman with two children at the checkout at the grocery store. Her youngest child (maybe two years old) was touching everything within his reach, as children tend to do. In a desperate tone, she told him (repeatedly) to stop touching everything. My heart went out to her. I have had the same experience many times when my children were young! So, I said to her, “I think it is awful that the grocery store places all of these tempting items here at the checkout to entice children”! She said, “well, I guess they have to make a living too”. I said to her, “yes, that’s true, but it doesn’t make it easy for you”! She acknowledged this to be true and said that she felt embarrassed. I told her that all of us who have children completely understood what she is going through. The conversation continued for a bit; we laughed as we share familiar feelings (as Mom’s) in this type of situation. As she paid for her items, she turned around, smiled warmly at me and waved goodbye. I knew that I had lifted a burden for her and yes, I’ll say it (It really is hard to say!) I did feel good about myself in knowing that I eased her embarrassment – self-love! Your turn 😉
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One more thing…..I really would love for you to share your thoughts with me. I know it is not easy to do! Believe me, I know, it took me a very long time to work up the courage to begin blogging! But I want to get to know you! When you feel ready, please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Daniela Vladimirova@flickr.comShare