What’s Love Got To Do With It?
The secret to your healthiest you just might be in the way you seek love from others, or offer love to others.
I am absolutely not telling you here to go into super analytical mode about whether you love well enough, or to spend more energy loving others. In fact, I recommend the opposite. I’m inviting you today to turn your love inward, and spend more time loving you, especially this season, especially right now.
How is it that you most enjoy offering love to others? With words? With touch? With random acts of kindness? With gifts? With time? Which of these five love languages you communicate most fluently with others may point to how you’d like to receive love as well. Notice what stands out to you in your general giving practices. As yourself how you would like to receive attention, acknowledgement, affirmation, love.
This may require some reflection, introspection, and eh hem, loving yourself as your neighbor. For how can you “love your neighbor as yourself” if you’re not in the practice of loving yourself?
What would your life be like if you could give and receive exactly as you wish, for the benefit of someone most dear to you—you! And know that this gift to self would only benefit others you love?
Ok, so you might not feel like you are the most dear to you. But I promise you, loving yourself will expand your potential to give and receive love in the ways that serve and suit you best.
Self- Love; Selfish or Fearless?
Not so many days ago, I offered a free talk and workshop entitled, “But isn’t self-love selfish?,” and “Fearless Self-Love,” respectively.
When I asked participants what kind of woman they think of when they hear the word selfish, they described one who is:
- A bulldozing bully, who doesn’t listen to others
- Angry rushed and takes without giving in return
- Self-protected, gluttonous, disconnected
When I asked about one who embodies dignity and integrity, they described a woman who is:
- Resilient, but not always available to be engaged with those around her
- Shameless about her self-care, driven to do what’s right
- Curious, open and focused on the truth
While I wasn’t surprised with the dichotomy of responses, I still felt amazed by how resistant we are to acting with concern for our own welfare, for fear that it will, absolutely, harm others if we do so. Even Merriam-Webster describes this tricky word, selfish, as one that implies that we do not regard others in actions that focus exclusively on ourselves.
I recall interviewing my contemporary, and friend, Dave Cavnar asking him what he thought might be different about being selfish or self-loving.
He said he didn’t think there was a difference between being selfish or self-loving.
And he implied there ought not be shame in taking care of ourselves; it’s essential. I agreed immediately with the second part, but the first was hard to swallow, still is.
“We teach best what we most need to learn” -Richard Bach
Those things that have been the hardest for me to learn, I am still learning, and therefore, teaching most. I’m often mindlessly
drawn by my old familiar self back into the old habits that tempt me to believe I really haven’t learned anything, that beg me to doubt my own progress. I can only offer teachings of self love, because I still need to learn them. Teaching them lures me back into their magic.
I teach self-love, because I’ve been so broken open by striving to lure love out of others that I’ve lost sight of how to love myself.
I teach self-love, because, though I’ve fallen hard for this painful lesson, it’s still the easiest one for me to trip on….again and again.
Hearing Dave equate selfishness with self-love hit an edge I’m not quite ready to hold onto. I prefer the familiar, worn down, and well-rounded paths of excusing myself from asking in full for what I need, of judging others for not thinking of me first, of doing what I insist is essential for a relationship, a job, a day to continue without stirring the pot enough to boil over, which has a tendency to leave me undercooked, and hard to digest.
At times I resist, so much, being selfish that I deny my own basic needs for
- Warm enough clothing,
- Using the bathroom when I need to,
- Hydrating sufficiently.
And also my deeper human needs for:
- Choosing how I fulfill my own dreams, goals and values.
I resist being selfish so much, that often I am not self-loving.
Is our language, our culture a set up? What’s a girl to do without a template for self-love?
You’re tired, achy, overworked. It’s your sister’s birthday, and you only have a little extra cash on hand. You book her a massage. As you hand her the card and gift certificate, you notice a little clenching around your throat and in your chest. You think, “I need that massage! I’m always giving away what I need most!”
If you can relate this may be a heads up that it’s time to turn some of that magnificent love that you so freely give others, inward.
Let’s Make a Self-Love Date!
- Start by booking time to make a plan, 15 minutes will do.
- Set yourself up for success by blocking off ample time to transition out of your hectic schedule, enjoy the activity you choose, and process or integrate your practice before re-engaging with your familiar schedule.
- Tell someone else your plan and ask her/him to follow up with you after your scheduled self-love date to ask you how it went!
Here are some options for magnificent self-love:
- Book a massage with a local practitioner OR practice Warm Oil Self Massage (how-to coming soon!)
- Cozy Night In with your smart phone on airplane mode, your favorite book or your open journal
- Register for a restorative, gentle or Yin Yoga class (don’t forget to schedule in time for a quiet cup of tea afterward!)
And if you’re more likely to follow through if you get a little love back for loving yourself, post a picture of yourself or your preparation for your self-love date on the Yogahealer facebook page, and we’ll all give you a round of applause, and a bunch of emoji affirmation 😉
For some of those work before play types, you may have to trick yourself into thinking this date with yourself is a reward. Once you make it a habit to experience this magic, you will find it is essential to care for and love yourself, without abandon.
You might even find that the reward is the doing the task you used to prioritize with much more ease, patience, kindness, attention, and … love!
So, what do you think – Is self-love selfish? Does it ultimately serve your loved ones to be the resilient-never-needs-time-alone-independent-efficiency-guru? Or does this practiced behavior simply feed your convinced-it’s-selfless ego, leaving you depleted and your loves witnesses of your stress and distraction?
Now it’s up to you. All some want for Christmas is their two front teeth, others, hippopotamuses, and still others, a little time alone with their breath.
What about you? Choose. Plan. Tell Someone. Do it. Celebrate.
Namaste Dear Ones.