A common thread among clients who come to me for self-empowerment counseling is “Why do people use me?” And they groan, “Why me?” And they whine, “I’ll never get what I want because of _____.” I tell them to fill in that blank with, “because I allow myself to be a victim.” People don’t make […]
I’m happy to have self-love ambassador Dina L Wilcox as my guest today. Dina is a writer and educator committed to creating portable, safe spaces in which people can talk together about what they have most in common as humans. Since 2000, through her company, Raising Healthy Voices, she has expanded the conversations to include unscientific explanations of what our brains would tell us they’re really doing with our feelings, fears, love, memories and consciousness. Her book, Why Do I Feel This Way?” What Your Feelings Are Trying To Tell You, was recently published.
Celebrating Self-Love Month
By Dina Wilcox
Do you get uncomfortable when somebody suggests you should love yourself? Do people who talk about self-love embarrass you? Do you tune them out, imagine yourself shaking them off as if they were too weird, or worse? Is the very notion of self-love the end of the conversation for you?
If the whole idea of self-love sounds like some kind of cult you want to avoid, you may not be alone, but that’s the bad news. Your discomfort at the idea that you might love yourself—or, more importantly, that loving yourself might be in your best interests—isn’t doing you any favors. It’s not even natural. You had to be taught not to love yourself.
So, it’s a good thing that January comes around every year to give you a fresh chance to practice loving yourself in the privacy of your own mind. It’s the perfect opportunity to re-think any discomforts you might have on the subject; if you really think about it, you’ll be able to eliminate those pesky negative feelings once and for all. You should also know that the rest of us will be generating plenty of energy to support you, too. As the self-love movement builds steam, many other people will be learning to love themselves, just like you.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is self-love? Here’s what it’s not: It’s not conceit. It’s not self-absorption. It’s not selfishness. Contrary to what you might believe, it doesn’t take up all your time and energy. You might even be surprised to know that it will give you more energy to love those around you, and it will help you be much better at loving them.
While I’m at it, sometimes I think we give selfishness a bad rap. When the airlines require you to put your oxygen mask on first, before you help your child or the person sitting next to you, are they asking you to be selfish? Are they asking you to practice self-love?
You’ve probably never thought about it, but it’s a good question and a great example. The airline is telling you that, if you take care of yourself first, you’ll be better able to take care of someone else in a very short while. On the other hand, if you start out getting all caught up in taking care of someone else without attending to your own needs first, you could easily end up gasping for breath and endangering yourself. What would you have gained by taking that route? Similarly, loving yourself is not selfish; it simply means you can acknowledge that you are at the very center of your self, and it’s from that position of perfect balance and strength that you do everything.
Are you starting to get the idea of what I mean when I say “love yourself”? If you really want to be great at loving or helping someone else—whether it’s one person, your child, a partner, or the world—you have to start with yourself. That’s only logical. You are the only you there is in the entire universe. Everything you do is something that only you can do in just the way you do it.
That’s because who each of us is depends entirely on how we perceive the lives we’re living. Your feelings of love, fear, anger, and even your memories are all made up of these feelings; they’re your responses to life. No one sees things, feels things, or loves, just the way you do.
That’s not flattery, and it’s not a precious idea. It’s a simple statement of biological fact, whether you want it to be so or not. Your brain is designed to attend to your wellbeing, and over eons of humans walking on two feet, your brain has developed all these ways for you to know and take good care of yourself, first and foremost, so you can survive to make your unique contributions to life. For your brain, it’s all about you. No one else exists.
When you love yourself, you begin to look and act as if you’ve gotten the message from your brain and understand that you are, truly, an extraordinary individual. When you love yourself, everyone gets to see that you consciously work at maintaining your wellbeing, that you know how to keep the balances of joy and sadness, empowerment and those temporary losses of power we can experience in the face of whatever life dishes up to us. Self-love isn’t the thing you want to be running away from in fear and prejudice. It’s the very thing that can transform you into a beacon of hope for everyone who is striving to feel the same way about her, and him, self. Not sometimes, when we’re feeling strong and beautiful, but ALL TIMES, especially those times when we feel powerless and anything but beautiful.
Self-love feels like every fabulous other kind of love you can imagine all wrapped up in one. It’s carving out time, every day, for something private, just for you, some one thing at a time that you love doing. It’s acknowledging yourself in the way that only you can. It can be slowly brushing your hair as you look at yourself—really look at your one-of-a-kind-self—in a mirror. Of course, it can be candles and warm, luxurious baths, but if that feels a little too ceremonial at first, loving yourself can also be making time to meet your best bud for a glass of wine and the nurturing that comes from two friends talking together. There aren’t any rules, except maybe that you let your imagination take you to your heart’s desires.
Here’s where I’m getting to: trust yourself. That may be the best part of self-love; the part in which you have confidence that you are fully capable of making good choices and decisions in your own best interests. This time, when January 1 comes around, be adventurous. If you’ve never tried self-love, introduce your ever-loving-self to the sheer joys of being the truly loving person you know yourself to be. Start with yourself as the subject and the noun. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?
Join The Self-Love Movement™! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 2012 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.
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