As a woman, mother, wife, and healer, my tendency is to take care of those around me. I have always felt a responsibility for the happiness of my children, husband, friends, family members and clients (really, anyone significant in my life). Whenever things get difficult emotionally, I fall into action and begin the process of consoling, re-arranging, compromising, supporting, comforting, rescuing. I do whatever I can to assuage the anger, sadness and hurt, even when it means sacrificing my own needs.
I have been under the assumption that by keeping everyone around me in a state of joy, I would secure my own well being. It’s taken me over 50 years. I’ve been through a divorce and experienced my children leave the nest, but I’m finally seeing that this is not at all the case.
I have realized that I had been shouldering the emotional baggage of my family for years and had grown tired and resentful. What’s more, the pain and discomfort always came back. In attempting to solve the problem, I was actually preventing my loved ones from learning and growing, and I was sabotaging my personal journey along the way. In trying to make everyone else happy, I was missing the point.
Recently, I have been thinking about the concept of self love. What would it mean to treat myself as if I were worthy and loveable? What would it feel like to console and comfort my inner being with soothing words when I was upset? What if I spent time and energy rearranging my schedule so that I could do something that meant a lot to me?
According to an article in Psychology Today by Deborah Khoshaba, (March 2012), “when we act in ways that expand self-love, we begin to better accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.”
The steps Khoshaba prescribes are; be mindful, act on what you need, stay away from automatic patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self love, practice good self-care, set boundaries, protect yourself by bringing the right people into your life, and live intentionally.
Full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love
The Law of Attraction.com also recommends that we practice the art of self love by having fun by yourself, travelling once a year on your own, forgiving your mistakes, starting a journal, taking a break, making a list of accomplishments, creating a vision board, pursuing new interests, challenging yourself, giving yourself credit where credit is due, and working on self trust. Full article: https://www.thelawofattraction.com/love-yourself/
Learning to self love is a process. It takes time and consistent effort to nurture our own growth. It takes regular practice to change the negative internal dialogue, to let go of perfectionism, and to find the beauty in all that we are. It takes effort to change old habits and beliefs.
I have begun to pay attention to my own destructive patterns and negative self talk. I have realized that I am harder on myself than anyone else in my life. I have noticed that when I am angry with something I’ve done and my self esteem is low, I take it out on others. I become angry quicker. I make hurtful comments.
I am a better person when I am loving myself.
Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if everyone practiced the art of loving themselves more. Would there be as much hatred, anger, defensiveness, hostility, and aggression? Perhaps if we each loved ourselves more fully, there’d be less room for injustice, violence, abuse, and inequity.
If the hate that feeds on human weakness is replaced with love, it will have nowhere left to go. Once it loses our attention, its power will diminish, and the next time it comes knocking, we won’t even notice. We’ll all be too busy enjoying our own company.