Loving yourself. It’s a topic, most of us on any given day, think we do pretty well. We probably aren’t plagued with low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. But if we actually thought about it, we place ourselves at the bottom of the priority list. Every day. Groceries, laundry, kids, the needs of spouses and friends, it is easy to take a backseat and collapse into bed not taking any time for you.
When was the last time you asked yourself what you needed to love you? A tricky question isn’t it. When it comes to loving yourself, there’s such deep wells and extravagant ways you can take care of you. Here’s the thing: I can only love others as much as I have capacity to love me. That is a scary reality to think of.
What does this look like practically?
It means you let go and be a bit trivial. Life is meant to be fun and shouldn’t be quite so serious. Maybe it means fitting in that workout and feeling awesome about yourself. Maybe it means budgeting money to go to the spa. It could mean spending the time cooking a good meal with friends and having a glass of wine at the end of a long day. More than anything, it means I forced myself to escape the to-do lists and grind of the everyday, to take breaks for things as simple as eating and unwinding for 30 minutes without a screen in front of me.
What if what I have to give to others is in direct relationship to the ways I loved myself, embrace my process, and give myself compassion? Over the past semester, this is a process I have begun and come to discover. I have by no means fully arrived, but have come to some incredible revelations in the process.
I didn’t realize how many negative things I told myself.
It’s amazing. But everyday when I would look in the mirror I would subconsciously curse the things I saw, the ways my personality expressed itself, and was never compassionate towards me. I couldn’t tell you that I loved my hips, my height, or my skin. Instead, I saw the blemishes, the cellulite that had developed, and the ways I wished things were different. I would look at my aggressively tender personality and curse it, wishing I was a type B, was like everyone else, or a more-laid back, passive version of myself. I would despise the giftings, callings, and anointings on my life out of an apology to the ways that others had received me over the years. I let the responses of others become the ceiling of my growth and it was easier to settle. If you asked me how I was during this time, I would tell you that I was great and I loved myself.
Then, reality came knocking.
It came in an unexpected form and with audacious brute force. There’s something about facing yourself in the mirror and telling yourself good things. It’s foreign, strange, and challenging. I was sitting in class one day and out came a bunch of mirrors. Our assignment for the rest of class was to go up to a mirror, look ourselves in the eye, and apologize for every negative thing we had ever spoken over ourselves. This was hard. Initially I thought, “No problem. I’ve got this.” Instead, the tears came and healing flowed as I realized how ridiculously hard I had been on myself and how I had carried this around with me everywhere I went, every interaction I had with others over the decades.
What happened next?
There have been huge moments of breakthrough, but more than anything I’ve learned to give grace to myself. There’s grace in drinking the smoothie one day and eating mac n cheese the next. There grace in loving my genetically large hips and in my height. There’s grace in my brazen identity and fierce love. There’s power and authority in my words. There’s enough time in the day to stop and eat, to sit and write, to create and adventure just for me. There’s time to live a beautiful life and permission to love myself along the way.
Wherever you are, may your heart have the courage and permission to love you. To reestablish a new normal. To value your heart, to validate your emotions, to embrace your talents, and rock what it is that you do best.
Today take a moment and love yourself.