4 Keys to Loving Myself
I would hear different people say; love yourself. That brought an immediate question mark in my head as to what that meant. Unknowingly, I made up a lot of stuff that kept me from moving past my confusion. I thought that loving myself included treating myself to spa days, standing in the mirror and giving myself a hug, never saying no to random things I wanted to buy, and lay around having lazy days. None of those things sounded good to me, so I therefore wasn't interested in loving myself.
However, self-love has emerged in a way that transcended all of what I made up and powerfully brought about love in my life beyond what I thought was possible.
Here are four aspects of what loving myself looks like:
- Loving without judgement: When I judge something, I decide that this is how something is and that is how it will always be. For example, if I judge myself to be a bad cook, then I am going to be a bad cook. I will probably burn things, not like the way my food taste, and expect others to express their disapproval of my cooking... I will confirm for myself that I am not a good cook. We love proving ourselves right. However, to love myself without judgement means I recognise when I have a judgement and dig into whether it is true or just what I am telling myself is true. In the example of judging myself to be a bad cook, is it true that I am a bad cook and that is all I ever will be, or is it possible that I want to grow and learn more about how to cook the way I desire? When I don't judge myself, I can get curious about what I want and need to experience what I desire. When I offer myself grace, action steps emerge and I can now move towards what I long for rather than being stuck in my judgement.
- Shame: Feeling bad, broken, or wrong, was some sort of self-righteousness I offered myself. I thought that if I beat myself up when I did something that I thought shameful, that somehow I would change and leave those "bad" behaviors behind. However, it never seemed to work. I seemed to do more "bad" things the harder I tried not to. I now realize that I was shaming myself based on what I saw in others. I would judge myself against others wishing I could be like them. If I could be prettier like her, if I were more successful like him, if I could be as artistic as they are, then I would "good." It wasn't working because I was self-loathing. I am beyond grateful that shame is loosing its power over me as I interrupt the diseased belief that I need to be someone else to be valuable or worthy. I am created exactly as I am for a purpose. It doesn't mean that there aren't areas where I want to experience transformation, but in that I am not wanting to be like someone else, but rather wanting to be more of my true self by exposing the diseased belief and choosing truth.
- Trusting myself: I don't know about you, but repeatedly I have heard people tell me, "you are hard on yourself." I found some strange sense of pride in being hard on myself, based on what I believed to be true to about myself. I believed that "abusing myself" through driving my body beyond its limits, burning the candle at both ends, and driving myself mentally to its limits, is what it took to be a good wife, mother, and entrepreneur. However, I know see that was self-hatred. When I love myself, I listen to my body, my heart, and my intuition. I trust their messages. When my body tells me it is tired, I respect that and rest. When my heart tells me that something isn't working, I stop and pay attention. I am learning that love is about honoring what I think and feel. It doesn't mean I let my feelings control me, but it does mean I respect them and give them a voice.
- Being present in the moment: When I was burning the candle at both ends hoping that I could earn love by being all things to all people, being present was virtually impossible. I was on a mission to nowhere but exhaustion. However, as I slow down and listen, I can be with what is right in front of me. In the hear and now, love is all around me. For example, yesterday, I saw three sets of dove's sitting in the tree, like love birds. Then later, a set flew in front of my car. And as I stepped outside to take something to the trash in the evening, there was another set walking right next to each other in the grass. Each time I saw the next set, I was freshly aware of how grateful I am for the love my husband and I share. You might ask how is that loving yourself? My experience is that when I am present and notice the little things, I am grateful and feel in love with my life and who I am.
We are encouraged to love our neighbor as ourself. When I don't love myself, I go to my neighbor taking. I offer myself to them from a motive of needing them to fill me up. I want them to love me so I can feel better about myself. So, I do things with them and for them to try and take that kind of love from them. But, when I love myself, I go to my neighbor needing nothing. I go offering my love and ability to love them as I love myself, without judgement or shame, trusting them to be their true self, and I am able to be present in that moment with them. I do thing for them and with them out of true love.
Loving myself is the greatest gift I can offer to the world around me.
What are you experiencing in loving yourself?