Valentine’s day is coming and just like Chet Baker, I think every day is Valentine’s Day. I love seeing candy hearts everywhere because I have a sweet tooth, but on a deeper level, I think it’s a nice reminder to celebrate love in all its shapes and forms, not only the romantic kind. In a world that focuses so much on negative news and doom and gloom these days – perhaps the topic of love is needed now, more than ever.
Although romantic love is usually what comes to mind, lately I’ve been wondering – how can we truly love ourselves more deeply? So much time is spent thinking about love in an outward fashion: how to look and act to make someone love us. How to find, get and keep a love relationship. But, very little time is spent thinking about how we perceive ourselves. How we talk to ourselves internally. How we treat our own hearts with tender, loving care. Perhaps, for some, it’s too scary to think about. Perhaps we don’t think that we are lovable or deserving of love. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
When we say “self-love” we may wonder: does loving ourselves mean that we will become a self-absorbed, ego-maniac? No – I don’t think so. But, it does require that we take some of the energy we spend facing outward and turn it inwards in self-reflection. It might even beg us to ask the question: what if we are the one we’ve been looking for all this time and if so, what are we waiting for? What’s stopping us from loving ourselves?
What if we took a moment to wrap our arms around ourselves and hug ourselves the way we always want to be hugged — with the deepest, most tender love and care? What if we took a moment to say the kind and beautiful words we’ve always wanted to hear, but we say it to ourselves and really mean it? What if we could tell ourselves that we are truly loved and that we’re beautiful and perfect just as we are? Would we believe it? Is this too hard to consider? Are you cringing at this idea? If so, it’s not unusual. Many people find loving themselves the most challenging thing to do. Some may say it’s the hardest thing in the world to do, which means – we really need to get better at it.
The paradox is what we always seem to hear — that it’s difficult to find love with someone else, if we don’t really love ourselves. All the best relationship advice will not work, unless we are taking care of our own hearts. So what does loving ourselves look and sound like for us?
I assume it would take a unique shape and form for everyone. For me, it means spending quality time with myself and taking care of my physical, mental and spiritual health as much as possible. Enjoying time alone to reflect. Saying Yes to people and things that fill my heart and No to things that deplete it. Spending time in nature. Going to a yoga class. Eating healthy, delicious food. When I do things that replenish my energy in body, mind, spirit – and heart – I feel like I have more love to give to others. Another very important thing is thinking positive and loving thoughts, especially about myself, as much as I can. This is where we can add: wrapping our arms around ourselves and giving a warm and loving squeeze, with all our hearts and go that extra mile.
So, here is another paradox: if you’re worried about feeling like an ego-maniac, please know that having more love to give is the greatest reason we really need to love ourselves more. Yet another paradox is that when we take good care of ourselves we become happy, relaxed and naturally more attractive to others without even trying!
Although having a loving relationship is a gift, it’s been my experience that another person can never, truly make us happy in the long run. Some have said that “happiness is an inside job.” Perhaps love is the same way: no matter how many people tell us that they love us, we will never feel that deep, fulfilling love unless we truly love ourselves. In other cases, perhaps we haven’t met anyone yet who made us feel loved the way we really need to be, let alone told us we are loved and accepted just as we are. But the good news is that we do not have to wait for anyone on the horizon. We can and should offer the unconditional, non-judgmental love and acceptance we are longing for toward ourselves whenever we decide to. So, how about now?
Please tell me – in what new and interesting ways are you attempting to love yourself more? I want to know…