Taking a shower this morning, I was struck with ideas of what I want to blog about. Aren’t we often hit in the oddest places with ideas, when we can’t write them down? I need a voice recorder in there. Haha.
One of the things I was struck by, is how little we love ourselves. How we settle and accept what others tell us love is. And how destructive that can be. How not loving ourselves allows abuse in. That when we don’t practice self-love, we allow all sorts of other things to replace it or feed what we think love is supposed to feel like. We eat too much, drink too much, perhaps use other drugs. We may be addicted to exercise in a negative way. Wanting to fill up those places that need love, but not recognizing that we need that love from ourselves first.
In the last few months I’ve studied love. I’ve studied abuse. And I’ve come to see how I was set up to accept someone else’s version of “love” when what I needed was to find my own version. What I needed was to see that I couldn’t love another person fully, without first loving myself. And by not creating an environment within me that was loving, I was vulnerable to accepting less. I was vulnerable to a predator and allowing their version of “love” that was actually abuse.
So how do we love ourselves? How do we create these feelings of love? How do we set ourselves up to accept and give love? How do we recognize that love has everything to do with how we run our lives? Self-love specifically!
I am more spiritual than religious these days, but I couldn’t help but think of the 1st Corinthians 13 passage from the Bible that explains what love is. No matter what, this is always my go-to when defining love. So I thought about how am I measuring up these days, using this list, in how I love myself. Am I on the right track? Am I setting myself to still be vulnerable to others definitions and possible harm? Or have I finally started to make progress in self-love? In self-acceptance?
Let’s take stock: (I have condensed this passage for my purposes of this post)
- Love is patient—ah, patience. How this is a tough one for me. I struggle with wanting to see immediate results, but if I evaluate honestly the last few months, yes I am learning to be patient with myself. To let go of the idea that I need to be anywhere other than where I am right now. I am learning that each day is an opportunity to grow and I am changing. I am more patient with myself when things do not go the way I may have planned. I am learning to let go more.
- Love is kind—when applying this to self-love, I frame this in how I talk to myself. Are the words I use kind? Are they uplifting? Are they motivating me to be the best me I can be? I would say that in the first month or so of healing, no they were not. But now a few months later, I am learning to speak kindly. To change my thoughts if they try to tell me I am not enough, or not good enough. Learning to speak kindly to oneself, creates a habit that helps us speak kindly to others.
- Love is not proud or boastful—there is a fine line between arrogant and confident. You should be confident in yourself. That is not being proud in a boastful way, but being proud of who you are. Of what you bring to the table in interactions with others. In what you can accomplish. Being confident to know that you are creating the best version or yourself, that you are living your best life. That is not boastful, that is saying you love yourself enough to create the best life for you. It is ok to know that you are awesome! Say it, I am awesome! I recall years ago when I was pregnant with my second child, I was in this class, they made us repeat a mantra every day in the mirror. It was ALL about self-love, about recognizing our brilliance and it was HARD to do. I have begun to do this again. To accept that knowing my value is not boastful or proud, but non-negotiable. The only way I can demand someone to treat me as worthy is if I believe I am.
- Love is not rude or easily angered—Again I think this applies to how we speak to ourselves. How do you react when you fail? When you forgot something that was important? When you do something that you wish you hadn’t? Do you call yourself names? Do you say “I am so dumb, lazy, stupid, ashamed, etc?” I think we are often in robot mode with our reactions to our own mistakes or shortcomings that this can be tough to even notice. But if we talk rudely to ourselves, I imagine it’s more robotic to talk rudely to others. I am learning to first notice my word choices with myself. And secondly to change them. To reframe them in a more positive way that helps me show myself love and creates a learning opportunity to change how I think and speak. When I forget something instead of my instant thought to be, oh you are so dumb, I am saying different things such as next time I will write that down. I will create a list and look at it so I do not forget important things. Changing our reactions, even in our own minds takes practice.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs—ooohhh, this is a big one. We like to keep a record. To keep score. I am not too sure why we enjoy this as humans, perhaps I will study this more, but we seem to strangely enjoy ( I only say enjoy because ultimately we get something out of it) having a list for ourselves or others of the wrongs committed. All of us can draw on the times that we said something we regret or did something we wish we could change. But in learning to love ourselves, we must learn to let go of these lists. When I inevitably recall some of the moments of this last year, last week or an hour ago, moments that I wish I had responded differently, instead of keeping score with myself and speaking unkind, I am starting to see them as learning, teaching moments. Asking myself, if that was right now, today, how would I respond? What can I do differently? I also love the 5-second rule by Mel Robbins, I highly recommend trying it out; it helps with learning to be less reactionary.
- Love delights in the truth—this one is easy for me as a truth seeker. At least about others. I greatly seek to avoid those that have a character of a liar. Those that enjoy living in the dark versus the light. But applying this to ourselves can be a bit tough. Do we tell ourselves the truth or do we sugar coat it because if we are honest, we may have to make some changes? I had to search within me recently to see that I kept saying I want to get into shape, that I want to be fit, but I was not doing anything about it. I wasn’t being fully honest. The truth was, I wanted it to be easy. I didn’t want to actually work out. I didn’t “feel” like it. Once I was honest with myself, I was able to get past the obstacle and seek what I truly want. I do want to be fit, so I have to accept that it is work….just like anything else worthwhile. So I set a daily goal, an attainable goal that is and started working out. Start small, but just start.
- Love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres—yes it does. And this is often hard to apply to ourselves in a positive way. I know I have many times thought I was loving myself by building a wall to others. That I was protecting myself from getting hurt. But in reality, I was not being vulnerable or open to allowing love in. This is not a way to show myself self-care and love. We are all built to connect with others. When I trust myself, when I know how to love myself, I can be open to others. I can be vulnerable and let love in. Knowing how to love myself, allows me to hope that I can recognize when another is truly loving, allows me to keep pushing through tough moments and creates a better me.
How are you measuring up on the loving yourself scale? Does this type of list help you see any areas that could use improvement? If we are loving ourselves first, then we are better equipped at loving those around us. Just going through this has me seeing even more ways I can improve and continue to grow.
I hope that you are loving yourself today. Let’s keep moving forward.