We’ve all heard it before:
You’ve got to love yourself before you can really love another.
You’ve got to love yourself before another can truly love you.
Love yourself just as you are.
But, what does it all really mean? Is saying “I love myself” all that it takes or is there something more to it? I think that actually understanding what it really means to love yourself is the almighty all-important first step in making it happen.
This August, it will be five years since I gave up the habit of smoking. Back in 2001, I began changes in my diet that eventually led to the plant-based diet which now governs my daily consumption. Although, I am far from my high school days of team competition in track and cross country, I still maintain a running schedule that keeps me fit and in shape for half marathons and 5K races. I’m not bragging - these are just examples of the things I do for myself out of the concern I have for my general health, my state of mind and my well being. Because of the conscientious way I live my life, it dawned on me one day not too long ago what it really means for one to love him/herself. When I looked below the surface of these three practices, I found that there is a distinct reason for why each one is important to me. Each practice is supportive and derivative of the same general concern - my overall well being. Simply put – I take care of myself the way one takes care of his/her child or significant other for whom there is genuine love. Coming to this realization, I discovered what it really means to love oneself – taking care of yourself the same way you would take care of a loved one who is in your care and under your supervision and guidance. Now understand, this isn’t all about pampering and simply promoting the fun and easy lifestyle choices one makes for himself/herself. It is also about tough love. The same love, care and supervision that makes one steer a child away from unhealthy habits and poor decisions through, sometimes, stern and steadfast rules is the same love, care and supervision that can be used for oneself. It is important to understand that you simply have to tell yourself “No!” sometimes. It may sound foreign to some, but a resounding no and some firm guidelines are sometimes the best outward displays of love. If these guidelines display love when extended to others, then they certainly display the love you have for yourself when directed at yourself.
Many of us, those of us who are lucky enough, have someone in our lives for whom we truly and honestly care. If you are so lucky, whether that person be a spouse, a child, a girlfriend/boyfriend, a parent or another family member, think about how important that person is to you. Now imagine that this person has been placed under your care and supervision. You would treat this person with kindness, dignity, and great care according to what is best for his/her well-being.
When it comes to the self, love as you would or should love another. I like to think of this way: Do unto yourself as you should do for your own child.
Live the life of your dreams and shed TEARS OF JOY.
What do you think it means to love yourself?
How can loving yourself change you for the better and bring TEARS OF JOY to your life?
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