Occasionally we have a lesson to relearn. It can be something simple like being mindful to avoid burning yourself in the kitchen, or it can be more difficult, such as apologizing after using hurtful words in a heated exchange. Sometimes a pattern keeps repeating in different forms so that we can fully penetrate its mystery as well as its promise. We’ve all been there.
For many of us, including myself, a lesson may be painful. Getting caught up in the routines of our daily lives, we choose to repeat it unconsciously. Only after the magic of life seems to have vanished, our vitality dimmed, or our life becomes so dissatisfying, do we begin to reflect and assess what is happening.
In the course of my mentoring work and my own personal development, I see one pattern that reappears for many time and time again: how do you choose to love, or not love, yourself.
Self-love is the topic of the day, and rightfully so. To meet the cultural definition of success and value in a capitalist society, we often make many sacrifices. And usually first on the list to sacrifice is personal time and care. We may work long hours, be slaves to our electronic devices, or multitask ourselves into overdrive.
I often quip that we treat our cars better than ourselves. We schedule proper maintenance, refueling, and tune-ups to keep them in top working order. Why don’t we extend the same courtesy and care to our own body, mind, and spirit?
Responding to a fellow student’s question, “How often should we practice?” my primary qigong teacher replied, “How much do you love yourself?” Initially, I found the answer rather odd, but with continued practice, I came to uncover the gem hidden in his response.
The measure of self-love is proportional to what we are willing to give, allow, and embody. What is your measure?
- How much value do you give not only your body and mind, but your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
- What are you willing to allow or discard in your life to create the life you wish to live?
- And more importantly, who are you willing to become to embody your purpose and gifts?
With honesty and calm reflection, these important questions can bring clarity to where you are doing well and also where you could dare to love yourself more.
Self-love is a practice and a discipline, and you are worth the effort. Start small. Find one thing you can do daily, and make it a fun routine to start your morning. Success is cumulative.
If you are looking for suggestions, I have two of my favorites to start you off:
- Morning affirmation: Upon awakening, take a moment to center, take a deep breath, and say something kind to yourself. Come up with a peppy mantra that nourishes an aspect of you that needs attention, such as “What arises today, I’ve got this!”
- Mirror practice: Look at yourself in the mirror for at least a minute each day. View yourself without judgement. If any negative mental chatter comes up, say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m not buying.” Notice what arises, and end with, “I love you!”
The soul of self-love is a return to a compassionate acceptance of who you are. The journey may feel awkward at first, but I’m asking you trust me. Making the commitment yourself to take one step at a time can yield fantastic results. Have fun. This is about you.