For years I was quite indulgent in my cyclical self-care practices, believing that was the best way to replenish myself. Back then I was working an average of sixty hours a week. I would wake up thinking about work, plan my day in the shower, throw back a cup of coffee and race into the office by 7:30AM for my 12-hour day. This was the loop of my life.
I bet it was like that for you too, until now.
In my old ways, on the weekends, to make up for the self-depletion, I would spend most of my time deploying self-care strategies in an attempt to make up for draining my energy resources and life force. My weekends would consist of massage appointments, hair-cuts and colorings, pedicures, manicures, waxing, facials, the occasional body scrub, astrology readings, psychic readings and if I was really treating myself I’d go to a Hay House “I Can Do IT” conference. Only the weekends I would take time to eat right and maybe get a little exercise. Further, I never considered doing any of these things during the busy work week. I considered all of this under the category of self-care. After all, these were the things I needed to do to simply restore and revive myself, boost my ego, temporarily feel good and make sure I looked fabulous come Monday morning.
Self-Love wasn’t even something that registered in my awareness in my old life. Probably, like a lot of you, I believed it was selfish and wouldn’t get caught dead being that nice to myself. I am bringing this forward now considering that most of our Self-Care vices are totally unavailable. Plus, for many other reasons, it’s the perfect time to start a conversation about Self-Love.
Discovering I had breast cancer was the beginning of my journey of loving myself. It’s a bummer that it always takes a crisis, but apparently that’s the only way to get through to us humans. When I had my crisis, I began looking at correlations between breast cancer and being self-nurturing. The breast being the part of the body women use to nurture their children, etc. (Which I opted out of on this go-around. I always say, “I’m on break in this life.”) At a deeper level, I also believe cancer is about an imbalance in the Spiritual and emotional levels. When imbalance occur, the body suffers.
Having breast cancer caused me to reflect on the idea of self-nurturing and explore what this meant for me. I had never considered myself the nurturing type but because I’m empathic, I spent a lot of time protecting my heart and my feelings from deeply connecting with other people. Mostly because I didn’t know how to manage and regulate my feelings from what other people were feeling.
Have you ever had that experience? Where you can’t tell the difference between your stuff and someone elses?
The WHOLE world is in a state of fear and anxiety and so many of us so easily pick up on that. If you’re the slightest bit empathic, you’re feeling it. As a result, people (myself included in the past) develop strategies to protect our emotional body against feeling. This usually includes keeping one from tuning more deeply into themselves as well as everybody else. The result is feelings of disconnection and emotional distance. Even though you may be in really close quarters to the people you love right now. This “protection strategy” may be preventing you from being anywhere near nurturing, let alone loving.
It might even look like numbing out in front of the tv, downing a bottle of wine every night or even comatosing yourself with drugs.
For me, when this idea of meeting myself with love was unfolding in my consciousness, it occurred to really look at the relationship I had with myself.
I noticed that I am really hard on myself. I mean I was REALLY hard – critical – judgmental and just plain mean to my sweet self. I was my own worst critic. Nothing was ever good enough and I was the first one to point out my flaws. This often came across in the form of sarcasm, putting myself down, calling out the fact that I was wrong. I almost never acknowledged myself TO MYSELF for any of the good qualities that were part of me. I also never acknowledged any real feelings I was having. I just pushed them down and kept on going partaking in the same vices I described in the earlier paragraph. During the breast cancer journey when I really began examining what it meant to be self-nurturing, I asked myself “what’s missing here?”
The answer was love. Self-love. The answer was learning how to relate to myself with love.
And, I really want to reflect, more self-love is exactly what we all need as we go through this time of uncertainty.
Over the past five years, I have come to know and deeply understand the profound difference between self-care and self-love. And make no mistake, there are distinct differences between self-care and self-love. Self-love includes self-care, but self-care alone only addresses the physical. Self-love is about inclusion of the whole person – mind, body and Spirit.
Self-love is about acknowledging your feelings and actually feeling them. Giving yourself permission to be a messy human, to let whatever needs to come up, to come up and then to just accept that rather than being embarrassed or shaming yourself for it. Self-love is paying attention to your intuition and trusting yourself enough to take action on it or not. Self-love is letting “where you are now” be okay.
Self-love is knowing that all the answers you seek are within you.
Self-love, is about making a commitment to yourself and actually keeping it. It’s taking some time, every single day, to be quietly with yourself and to acknowledge and honor the human experience you are having. It’s also taking time every single day to acknowledge the infinite part of yourself. The higher part. The part that is connected to All That Is. The part that know we will come through all this and we will each learn something valuable and discover blessings in our life that couldn’t have shown up any other way.
Self-love is giving yourself permission to slow down. It is about deeply connecting to yourself and to others. Self-love is listening to your body’s needs and to the needs of your heart. Self-love is finding your voice and using it. Self-love is the revelation of your authentic self as a Divine Spiritual Being having a human experience and the awareness that you are here for a reason. Self-love is following your joy. It is about knowing you are guided and protected and that all of life is for learning. Self-love is believing in yourself. Self-love is standing in your truth when everyone else may be telling you that you’re crazy.
Self-love is allowing your feelings with an attitude of caring acceptance and compassion for yourself.
The path to self-love is not found in reading a blog post or by simply experiencing a life-threatening illness. It’s about relating to yourself in a different way. It’s being willing to shift your mind set and your belief systems to expand yourself to life’s direction along the journey.
The world has an open invitation right now. You can keep fighting against “what is” mourning “what was” and bringing resistance and resentment to what is happening. Or, you can find compassion, tenderness, nurturing, kindness and love and you can begin with yourself.
If you would like more ways to meet yourself with love you can take my self-love assessment and get an idea of how you can learn to support yourself in a more loving way. Also, on my YouTube Channel you can find some video’s offering explanation on how to Meet Yourself With Love.