When I decided to become a coach, I knew that I wanted to help people love themselves more. To do this, I have been first working on loving myself. For the longest time I didn’t quite know what this meant. How does one love themself? Should I have some mushy feelings toward myself? Should I want to romance myself? Look in the mirror and say, “I love you?” There must me more to this. Today, I was running, and reflecting on a book I’ve been reading. Another self-help book in a long line of them. (More on self-help addiction coming up in another post) The book emphasized personal mastery and discipline as key virtues in leading a happy, fulfilling life. At first I balked at the idea. I was like, “Pffft, hell no. I love myself, and therefore don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good.” But wait a minute.
Does loving yourself always mean that it feels good?
To figure out how to best love myself, I decided to look at how I love others, and then apply that to myself. So, how do I love my boyfriend? Do I merely feel all swoony when I look at him? (I used to think that was it. No swoony feeling=no love. I blame it on the Rom-Coms.) I used to be alarmed every time I didn’t feel anything when I looked at him. Scared that our love had finally run it’s course (We’ve been together a mere 9 months. Were this the case, I’m definitely a rapid-cycler serial monogamist.)
Ok, enough of the parentheses. It’s time to make the point.
Somewhere along the way I heard someone say that you ACTIVELY love people. You choose it. How do I love my boyfriend? Not by feeling all melty. (Although I do still feel a fair bit of melty) I love him by touching him. I love him with the tone I use when I speak to him. I love him by playing Frisbee with him. I love him by being honest and telling him the truth, even when it’s not what he wants to hear. I love him by giving him the space to be who he is.
So, why not apply these same principles to my self-love? I know this is ass-backwards. You know what they say: You can’t love anyone until you love yourself. Yes. Point taken. However, I’m looking for ways to do more of this . Plus, it’s always easier to be more compassionate with other people than with ourselves. So, I have decided to actively love myself. Not just gazing deeply into my eyes in the mirror (with the occasional wink and a “How you doin?”).
I am loving myself today by looking at my bank account. This is something I’ve been avoiding. I care for myself enough to see what’s happening with my finances. Yesterday I loved myself enough to prepare a lovely dinner with high quality ingredients. Tomorrow I will love myself by waking up early and doing my morning ritual of meditation, morning pages, and an extra long eyebrow plucking session. (Yes, I take pleasure in plucking my eyebrows.)
Get it? Sometimes loving yourself takes discipline. Sometimes it means kicking your own ass out of bed before you feel like it. Sometimes loving yourself means saying no. It doesn’t always feel good in the moment. Above all, loving yourself means giving yourself a break when you forget to love yourself for a little bit. When you catch yourself doing the negative self-talk thing for the 50th time in a day, or when you just went all crazy on a hot fudge sundae that you really didn’t want.
Compassion for yourself in these moments will keep you from catastrophizing them into a huge off-the-wagon crisis. The more you can love yourself through these moments, the fewer there will be.
So, in the end I believe that Love is both. It's a feeling AND and action. Love needs to be expressed, not just felt. Actively giving love to yourself and others is how to create a flow of love that will ripple out and effect the universe as a whole.
Please leave a comment, and tell me your thoughts.