We are trained from toddlerhood to love others. To love our parents and siblings, our family and friends, our teachers and peers. We know early on that we should love our bubbly neighbors and our ornery aunts, our bratty brothers and our best girlfriends. Our allies and enemies alike somehow deserve a dose of our precious love. And it can be challenging – because people are complex and cumbersome and unpredictable – but we muddle through because we are taught to love in this way. And, generally, we learn that loving other people feels good, and is rewarding, and the cycle perpetuates.
But I want you to love yourself. I want you to be loving WITH yourself. When you think about yourself, I want you to feel warm-gushy rushes of affection and adoration and pride.
But why? What’s the point of that? Why direct any loving energy inward when directing it outward feels more natural and yields more tangible results?
Because you should treat yourself just as tenderly as you would treat anyone else you love. You may default to humility or denial, feel uncomfortable basking in the glow of your accomplishments or lauding your hard-earned skills. You may beat yourself up for not trying hard enough, or achieving more, or being better. But think about badmouthing the traits you love in others, think about scoffing at the obstacles they’ve overcome. Then think about railing at a loved one for disappointing you, or falling short. You would never. So why allow it internally? You deserve for yourself what you readily give to others.
Because neglecting to acknowledge your own strength and beauty and power and intelligence and talent may eventually begin to drain those attributes. Your identity is your garden to tend. Nurture yourself with love, and keep your inner self nourished and strong.
Because self-love and self-care are interconnected. When we care for ourselves – put effort into our comportment, tend to our physical health and mental well-being, acknowledge our bodies for their natural beauty – we feel more confident, and more capable of loving ourselves. And when we love ourselves, we happily and energetically steward our bodies and minds. Love yourself that you may care for yourself, that you may continue to love yourself, and perpetuate that wonderfully ongoing cycle.
And finally, because, as the saying goes, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.”
And that is the simple core of it: You DESERVE your own love. How you learn to love yourself is a highly individual journey, of course. But just in case you needed a reminder of why it is important, why you should bother, why you should love yourself tenderly and fully, flaws and all, here it is: You absolutely, unconditionally, unerringly deserve it.
Originally posted 2009-06-08 06:02:00.