If I asked you to name all the people and things you love… How long would it take for you to name yourself? How many of you would really name yourself in say the top 5 or top 10? My guess is all your family members and close friends would probably be at the top of the list. Some of you might not have even listed yourself. As we come upon the ever commercialized “holiday” of love, I invite you to approach it a little differently this year.
There is no doubt that many of you are really good at showing others love and how much you care, especially when you are able to put aside the day-to-day obligations that we all have. But, what about YOU? Can we really love others to our full potential if we do not love and nurture ourselves? I’m not saying that you are not loving and caring enough of others. I’m saying that you have even more capacity. There’s a reason we’re told to put our own oxygen mask on first before putting it on someone else. When we do not love and nurture ourselves first, there are holes left in our soul and we can become more drained and exhausted. When we start with ourselves first, we are better able to give.
So, maybe you’re wondering what I mean by loving yourself. It’s not the standard “I am smart, I am beautiful, and gosh darn it people like me” routine. Don’t get me wrong, we should be addressing the negative self-talk and the criticisms we can put upon ourselves, along with taking other people’s opinions too seriously. That is all part of self-love. It is also deeper than that. It involves acknowledging the good and the bad. Continuing to build and act upon the good within you. Be the light for your children and others to see. Don’t be apart of or contribute to the problems of yourself and others, and do not feed into the chaos. People often comment on how calm I seem during a crisis or when things get really stressful. Some have asked me how I am able to maintain my composure. The simple truth is that I choose not to be a part of the problem or chaos around me. I’ve made it my life’s mission to bring peace wherever I can. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected me on the inside – I continue to work on maintaining my inner peace no matter what is going on. We all start somewhere, right?
The other side of self-love is forgiving yourself and others for the bad. We’re all humans, and we’ve all made mistakes in our lives. What we do when those mistakes are made can have lasting affects. We can be the one that hangs onto the mistake forever, never letting it down and constantly using it as something to hold us back (it has definite potential to become a crutch). The next time that situation comes up, we can say “that went horribly last time, never again.” On the other hand, we can also choose to approach it as a lesson. When we approach our life as a lesson, there really is no losing. Nothing is lost because we value and put to use the various lessons we learn, which means we are constantly growing. You’ve met both of these individuals (maybe even in yourself), and if you’ve had experience with both sides of the coin, then you know which one feels better and which one brings you more success and satisfaction.
Loving yourself should involve a holistic approach – feeding your mind, body and spirit. Many of us find much joy and satisfaction in our children, our work, etc., but there is also more on the individual level that we must nurture as well. Stop yourself when you find you are being your own worst critic. Acknowledge with a smile (as uncomfortable as it may be – I’m working on this one, too) when someone compliments you. Show gratitude for the many gifts in your life, especially the gifts that you give to the world. LIVE and LOVE to the very fullest!
While Valentine’s Day is a time to show love to those around us, maybe try and make it like Valentine’s Day everyday. I’m not talking about the flowers, candies, cards and gifts. I’m talking about the true expression of love and gratitude for those in your life AND for yourself. Show it everyday. You never know when it will be your last.