So here we are….it’s February….also affectionately known (to some) as LOVE MONTH!!! There are so many reasons why different people LOVE and HATE this month! Perhaps it reminds them of a relationship that didn’t work out and the hurt or pain they are still living with; or someone dear to them who has died and the reality that they’ll never share those special moments again; or perhaps it is an opportunity to explore and rediscover new love; or simply display appreciation for those in their world who they already feel love and affection toward. Regardless of what it looks like ‘LOVE MONTH’ really can evoke a whole lot of very strong emotion in people at both ends of the continuum, in addition to everything else that may lie in between.
Something I’ve been feeling to bring attention to this year is a subject that I have rarely heard spoken of, especially (and ironically) at this time of year – LOVING YOU!
How often do we witness events in our world that highlight and even exude HATRED? It is disturbing to say the least! So that brings me to something that as a Counsellor/Family Therapist I see frequently…the attitude/disposition I call ‘Self-Judgement’ or ‘Self-Hate’. Self-Hate consumes the lives of so many individuals in our world, which is indicated in the plethora of mental health issues people are plagued with. (This is not to be confused with ‘Self-Evaluation’, which is actually constructive and life-giving in its truest form).
At the very core of such SELF-HATE is an intense feeling of unworthiness. This then becomes the basis of so many problems in people’s interpersonal relationships. Self-hate directly undermines a person’s ability to be genuinely close with another person. Scientific research has proven that it is actually not possible to feel critical toward yourself and create a heart-to-heart connection with someone else AT THE SAME TIME! How’s that for a fact!
I’ve heard so many people say, “I love my partner/kids etc, but I can’t stand myself!” If I was going to be completely honest, I’d say, that’s actually not even possible! The way that you feel about yourself to the core, in reality, is how you’re going to behave and respond toward others (if not outwardly to begin with, inward attitudes will certainly reflect this…and then it’s inevitable that it’ll show up outwardly)!
So how does someone who is trapped in a world of self-hate or self-judgement, find their way to living a life characterised by SELF-LOVE?
Can I just say that before you are even ready to look at forgiving yourself, it is of significant importance that you are firstly able to be completely honest with yourself! HOW? By taking a good look inside of yourself. By taking notice of what you’re thinking. How are those thoughts causing you to feel? Cut out the BS.
Until you’re able to stop stuffing it all down inside of you and pretending (whether to yourself or others) that the hurt and pain is not really there, you will NOT be able to move forward on the journey to developing the kind of SELF-LOVE I’m talking about.
If like my nine year old daughter you hear that phrase and cringe, you’re most likely associating ‘loving yourself’ with being boastful and egotistical. That is NOT the kind of self-love I’m referring to.
Developing genuine SELF-LOVE requires uncovering what is actually underneath those negative feelings toward yourself and coming to a place of acceptance. Acceptance that what has happened can’t be changed. Acceptance that the way you see yourself because of what has happened MUST be changed in order for you to move forward in life. It CAN change. It WILL be a process. It will mean making a repeated choice to accept yourself over and over and over again. The healing, or the SELF-LOVE, will begin when you are able to genuinely show care and compassion toward yourself rather than adding more and more layers of judgement. Most often we judge ourselves more harshly than others do.
If this describes you, it’s time to create a new story – connect with those thoughts going through your mind – connect with your feelings – and finally allow yourself to connect with your pain. As you learn to be vulnerable with yourself, there will be a natural kind of compassion for yourself that will begin to emerge. A new experience you can learn to embrace.
I want to challenge you to ACTIVATE SELF-KINDNESS in your life TODAY. Make an agreement with yourself to find ONE THING each day for the next 30 days (then the next 60 days, 90 days and so on) to do as a gesture of self-kindness toward YOU. Make a list of things that you love about yourself. Declare each gesture of self-kindness on that cumulative list over yourself every single day without fail (whether you ‘feel like it’ or not)! Think about how you’d express that kindness toward someone else and DO IT FOR YOU…whether it means buying a bunch of flowers; going for a walk in the park just to ‘smell the roses’; buying yourself a little ‘treat’; writing yourself a letter; giving yourself some verbal encouragement. Tell yourself that you are of value and you are WORTH IT! Whatever you choose to do to activate self-kindness…grow the habit!
There is so much to this particular topic that I could talk to right here…and I really am just scratching the surface. However, my goal in writing this, is to highlight to people like you, the fact that the journey to SELF-LOVE is a continuing one. Is does not have a one-time-fixes-all kind of remedy. It is about making a commitment to yourself to be kind, to show compassion and to speak life. And in doing so learning to LOVE YOURSELF.
So this Valentines Day – whether you’re traditionally into celebrating it or not – do something to kick start your journey to a greater level of SELF-LOVE.
GO ON… I DARE YOU!
With you as you discover your ‘Freedom to Rise’,