June is traditionally the month for weddings and it is also now celebrated as Gay Pride month. Love is in the air all around. This is a juicy time of making whoopy.
But while June is the jolly season for Brides and Grooms, Brides and Brides and Grooms and Grooms, it is important to remember that the most primary and important love is that of Self Love. All relationships are built on the respect, esteem and affection that we have for our self.
Self-Love: A Definition – Part 1
When asked to consider the question of self-love, many people ask, “Does loving myself unconditionally mean I have to love everything I’ve ever done?”
No. Like you, I’ve done things of which I have been ashamed. However, when we love ourselves unconditionally we don’t dwell on these past events. We don’t make them the focus of how we see ourselves. When we can we correct them. We call them mistakes and learn from them so that we don’t do them again.
When we can be kind and forgiving in this way to ourselves we are better able to be that with others. Unconditional and forgiving self-love fosters unconditional and forgiving love of others.
How you feel about yourself has a lot to do with how others feel about you. Sometimes how people feel about themselves is obvious in their appearance. We may feel that someone who walks with a severe slump, or doesn’t meet our eyes, or speaks in a barely audible voice has a low opinion of herself.
Some people speak their opinions of themselves. A person may say, “Well, I could never do that.” Or “I’ve never expected much from life” or “I gave up on relationships.”
Often, though, it’s not that clear. Many of us are good at presenting a positive persona (mask) to the world. Inside, though, we may be riddled with doubts about ourselves. We may be nervous about how our remarks or appearance are received. We may meet someone to whom we’re attracted and silently affirm that (s)he would never, NEVER be interested in us. This way we avoid the fear of rejection by not taking a risk.
When I was a child, a popular (although cruel) April Fool’s joke was to put a sign which read “Kick Me” on someone’s back. The emotions and beliefs we have about our lack of lovability are subtle signs which others read as “Don’t Love Me” or “Reject Me” or “Treat Me Badly.”
In order to have loving relationships with others we must have loving relationships with ourselves. That’s the first step towards answering the questions in the meditation I’ve given you to use:
What would you do if you believed you were completely responsible for the presence of love in your life? What relationships would you heal? How would you act if you believed you were the source of love in any encounter? How would you change the way you treated yourself?
Many of us have the fear that the line between self-love and being considered a raving egomaniac is a very fine one.
We don’t like people who boast about themselves. We are very careful to be modest and self-effacing at every possible opportunity. We minimize our accomplishments. We believe people should love us for who we are, not for what we do.
The difference between self-love and egotism can be made more clear if we take a deeper look at so-called egotism. The person who is constantly talking about himself is not someone who is filled with self-love. He is more likely someone whose inner well of self-love and self-esteem is empty. He feels the need to replenish it from outside sources.
Tomorrow: Self-Love: A Definition – Part 2
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.
Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.