Someone very dear to me recently lost a life-long friend. My heart literally broke in two for her. I so longed to be with her to hold her and do anything I could to help comfort and ease her pain. Even a little. Even if just for a moment.
It is our nature to comfort and love others we care so deeply about, to be a bright star for them in their nights of darkness.
In the note I sent her, I asked her to please take care of herself during this time and included one of my favorite quotes:
“You can search the world ten-fold and not find a single person more deserving of loving kindness than yourself.”
After reading my last blog post, she politely and lovingly suggested that I take the Buddha advice for myself. Ha.
We give such deep love to friends. Well, some of them. To spouses. To our children. To our pets. What about to ourselves? The bible says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. But far too often we forget the last two words—as thyself.
This is something I have been working on since I was first introduced to Louise Hay’s work in 2007, at age 38. Yep, 38. It is a conscious daily practice for me, which has evolved over the years.
Although I grew up in a very loving household, I was never taught about loving myself. Nor was it a concept that was discussed or taught in school. I think unless you have been brought up by really enlightened parents (like Wayne Dyer) and teachers, you have not been taught to love yourself.
On the contrary, we have been taught to not be “selfish”, which turns to feelings of guilt if we admire our appearance or pat ourselves on the back for an achievement or job well done. We then become fearful of being labeled “egotistical” or “full of ourselves.”
What makes loving ourselves challenging are the so-called perceived “faults” inside (i.e. not good enough, not smart enough, not skinny enough – you get the drift) that we do not accept in ourselves. This makes it impossible to love ourselves exactly as we are. Throw these tapes in the garbage where they belong!
What kind of deal is that with the most important person in your life ?!? Especially given that if we do not love ourselves, we will not consider ourselves worth loving.
So, how do we do this? Louise says first and foremost:
- Stop criticizing yourself. Criticism breaks your inner spirit.
- Be kind to your mind with your thoughts and words. Build yourself up. Don’t beat yourself up. Throw away the negative tapes you play in your head.
- Praise yourself. Praise builds your inner spirit.
Here is what works for me:
1) Intention. In the first hour of my day, I write a list of affirmations and intentions. This sets the tone for the day. In every moment we choose how we feel. Why not begin your day by flooding your mind with positive, loving thoughts honoring your awesome self? Because you are.
2) Physical. Did I eat well, sleep well and exercise today? How we treat our bodies is the ultimate sign of either self-respect or disrespect. When I don’t treat my body like a garbage can, I feel good. I love this Navajo saying: “If you want to see what your body will look like tomorrow, look at your thoughts today.”
2) Emotional – am I surrounding myself with people I love, who love me, who support and inspire me? Love heals. Why not tap into the well of self-love that is available to each of us 24/7?
3) Spiritual – Meditation and Gratitude. Quieting my mind and listening to my own inner wisdom is how I can best know myself and honor what my soul needs. I write down at least 10 things every day I am grateful for. This gets me out of “myself” and my perceived “problems.” It shows me how much good is actually in my life, when I think everything is crappy. I surrender to all that I can’t control. It’s wasted energy to think about, much less fret over things out of our control.
The days I do this produce magic. Even so, I still have days where I am angry, sad, jealous, lonely, anxious, regretful. I am human. But it’s usually because I didn’t practice one or all of the above.
Those are the days the universe sends flying monkeys (like the ones from “The Wizard of Oz”) down from the sky to “test” me through life experiences and challenges.
When I take care of myself and love myself, I grow wings.
Those are the times I fly high above the monkey’s in the sky and become a bright starlight in someone’s night of darkness.