“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” - Morrie Schwartz At some point, I knew I would write about love. I have referenced romantic and familial love and have touched on self-love, but today it’s all about loving the self. I once heard someone say that you cannot give away something you don’t have. So, how can we love another, and receive their unconditional love, if we do not first love ourselves?
Can you honestly say that you love yourself unconditionally? Are you proud of yourself and your accomplishments, and do you take time to nurture yourself? By nurture, I mean give yourself time to heal from emotional wounds, read, rest, say kind things to and of yourself, recover, think, sleep, listen to music, go for a hike, or whatever it is that you need to feel like you are caring for yourself. Many of us “take care of ourselves” by exercising, eating healthy foods and getting enough rest, etc., but what about nurturing? Do you forgive yourself your mistakes, accept yourself as you are and facilitate your personal growth?
We tend to think of personal growth as something that requires time spent on a couch “talking it thru,” going to large rallies or some other investment. In the true Power, Strength, Grace fashion, I will make it much simpler. To be clear, I place high value on the assistance of mental health professionals, and I was able to work thru some extremely difficult experiences and get to where I am today with the assistance of a supportive and gifted therapist.
You need to dig thru your garbage, in your own way. However, in addition to digging in the muck of past experiences and negativity, you can simply treat yourself with love. It is not easy to un-do negative thought patterns and change how you view yourself, but I can help you get the ball rolling. So, I am here to teach you how to keep it cool and FAN yourself with love.
First, back up for a minute, if you will, and entertain a bit about me. If you know me or have followed my posts or blog, then you know I have been thru a lot of change and challenge in the last couple of years. I ended my marriage, had a job plop in my lap after many years out of the paid workforce, and ultimately chose to leave that job to pursue my passion. In the process, I have chosen, and been forced, to work thru some very dark moments. I have dug in the muck, faced a number of previously crippling fears, and ventured out into the world as a completely transformed, re-born person. All this said, practicing self-love was never something I would have considered before because, frankly, it sounds pretty hokey to my rational mind.
That said, self-love is the best place to start the healing process, and quickly. Obviously awareness that you need to make a change will precede this, but if you are reading today and seeking guidance, I feel safe assuming that you have gotten past the recognition stage. So, let’s get to loving ourselves. I have broken it down into three steps: Forgive yourself, Accept yourself and your circumstances, and Nurture yourself. You do not need to go in any certain order; I am spelling FAN so you can remember it easily.
Forgive Yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. Let go of the mistakes you’ve made, even if you have hurt people along the way. If you feel responsible for hurting someone, forgive yourself, ask for forgiveness from that person/people, and move on. If a personal apology is not possible, write a heart-felt letter that you either send or do not send. Maybe write a letter forgiving yourself your imperfections and file it. Better, write it in a journal or notebook and picture wrapping it with love and letting it go. Name the hurt, shame, criticism and agony. Be lovingly forgiving, as you would with a child. Send each tidbit off to the universe/heavens/God/Cosmos in a bubble of love. Watch it float away. Too much? OK, just name it, write it on the paper, leave it behind, and move on without the ritual. You are human, will make mistakes, and the sooner you let go of impossibly high expectations, the better off you will be.
Accept Yourself (and your circumstances.) You are a beautiful creature, part of the human race; we are all beautiful and offer so many gifts. You will stumble and pick yourself up, and you will make mistakes and learn from them. View your mistakes and imperfections as part of the learning process on this wonderful journey. Let yourself be yourself and recognize that you are incredible, warts and all. This is a great time to write an affirmation about your qualities, gifts and potential. Write a list of positive attributes about yourself. You might struggle with this if you are new to self-love. That’s OK, just find anything positive to say about yourself, such as, “I am an excellent gardener.” You can further develop your affirmations as you begin to feel comfortable with using positive vocabulary.
Nurture Yourself. Self-nurturance is one of the more challenging concepts because we are programmed to dish-out loving care to others, but to do the same for ourselves is viewed as selfish and indulgent, and that does not sit well on the palate. I believe I once said, “Get over it” and I think that applies nicely here. Get over the negative connotations and get to loving yourself. Nurturing the self is very simple, and doesn’t require a lot of time, energy or money. You simply need to begin treating yourself in a loving manner. Start by writing yourself a love letter, or write a letter to yourself as a child. Share things with yourself that only you would know, tell yourself what you see, your potential for greatness, and let yourself feel the warmth of you loving yourself.
Part of personal development is to love and accept the self. Accepting ourselves does not mean giving up on making improvements, but how can we lovingly warm-up our home if we don’t feel it? How can we love our partner, children or other family members if we do not love ourselves first? We cannot give out that which we do not possess. I recently tweeted the following, and it will be included in the opening pages of my upcoming book:
"Prepare your heart. Move your body. Release what no longer serves you, and invite loving care into your life." ~ TLC
When you let love in, you will be able to give love out freely and honestly. Give it a try.
Blessings. Gratitude. Love.