I absolutely love love. I find it to be the most natural thing ever to share it with my people, my pooch, even a stranger on the street.
But this thing here, this “self-love”, has been a much harder and deeper and truer relationship to cultivate. It requires a level of honesty and compassion and, most often, unwavering self-forgiveness that has taken a lifetime of practice (yep, still practicing).
Self-love is the kind of love you can’t bullshit or hide from. The kind with the power to wrap your heart in wholeness no matter how broken it may feel. The kind that reminds you who are and why you are deserving of all you desire. The kind you get the privilege to give AND receive.
At the root of self-care is self-love.
In order to do the sometimes hard, often disciplined, but always worth it work of taking good care of yourself, you must truly believe you are deserving and worthy of that care. You are the container you must pour your love and care into FIRST, so you are full enough to share it with others. Because you can’t keep drinking from your own cup if it’s empty.
It’s something we all know in theory, but in practice it can be so hard to do. We often operate from “martyr mentality” thinking that our clients, employees, kids, partners, pets, businesses [insert the laundry list here] need us more that WE need us. If we can just sacrifice ourselves a little bit more, eventually we’ll stop and prioritize ourselves. (and yes, we all know that day never comes).
So the question I try to ask myself every day, especially on the days I don’t want to, especially on the day when my inner martyr is extra loud, is: “What can I do to love myself today?” And then listen in. What does your body need? What is your heart craving? What’s one simple thing you could do to be kind to yourself?
It could be to eat some protein, it could be to take a power nap. It might be a yoga class or a long-overdue night out with your friends. Whatever it is, practice honoring it.
Yes, it is a practice.
And like exercise, it actually does get easier the more you do it. Often it’s more fun too (certainly when it’s girls night out!).
Self-love is empowerment.
A client said to me once that the most important thing he learned in our work together is that “the outcome of self-care and self-love is empowerment.” The benefits of giving ourselves what we need compound like interest, and slowly over time, we build ourselves up and expand our container to invite more and BE more. More joy, more health, increased capacity, better leadership. It all expands from cultivating the state of self-love within.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I’m hoping you’ll pile a huge heap of self-care and self-love into the collective love fest. Because you deserve it. Because you are worthy of what you may so easily give others before ever thinking to give it to yourself. And because more love creates more love creates more love. And we all certainly need more of that.