Love Thyself

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It’s only four days away—Valentine’s Day. Many people will be stimulating the economy by purchasing greeting cards for their loved ones, friends, and close family members. Along with the card might be a box of candy, a bouquet of flowers, or some other extravagant gift—all to say, “I love you”. I love you. So simple, yet so hard to say, especially to ourselves. Think about it. When was the last time you said, “I love you” to yourself? When was the last time you looked into the mirror and grinned with pride? When was the last time you bought yourself a gift that said, “I love you”? A small something that would bring a smile to your face every time you looked at it?

Before you start showering your love onto others, love thyself. It may sound awkward or conceited to love yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. Loving oneself isn’t someone 10 feet tall with chest sticking out and nose up in the air. That’s bragging. That’s arrogance. It’s immature and very often a sign of someone who has to prove himself. That individual has been badly wounded and carries that pain deep within. It’s a secret. It must be camouflaged so that no one will ever know.

Many of us come from generations of parents who either put their children down or did not praise them for their good traits and behaviors—all in an effort to avoid raising “spoiled” children. As a result, they succeeded in squashing our self-esteem. So, we went through life assuming that everyone else was better than us. After all, we watched TV moms like Margaret Anderson and Donna Reed speak to their children with such love and adoration. What else were we to conclude but that that was the norm and we didn’t quite make the grade? Our parents quickly pointed out our “wrongs” and never praised our wonderful qualities because “that was expected”. So, we hung our heads and kept listening to the recordings within the subconscious mind—not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, too needy, can’t do this right, can’t do that right, never going to amount to anything. Is it any wonder so many people suffer from lack of self-esteem?

Take a step back to remember that you chose to enter the earth plane at this time because there were things you needed to learn and things that you needed to teach. Therefore, you are perfect just the way you are.

Now, I know, many of us, especially women, have taken on the responsibility of the family and the burdens of life. Whether as spouses, parents, children of elderly parents, volunteers, workers, or within our careers, many of us tend to put the needs of others before our own needs. After all, we are caregivers. We try to please and care for others, not leaving time for ourselves, as though we are not as important, as special or needing as everyone else. If we continue to do this without honoring who we are we will become angry. We will be unhappy and moody and agitated all the time. We may be impatient and abrupt and no one will want to be around us.

We need to take time for ourselves, to nourish ourselves, to take care of ourselves, to feel good about ourselves. We cannot keep giving to others without also giving to ourselves, or we will be depleted. Let me give you an example:

About 10 years ago in S. Orange County a massive water main rupture forced about 700,000 customers into drought-like conservation measures for about one week. Use of tap water was limited to one minute showers. I was one of those affected by the water shortage. Dilemma: I had a potted plant that needed frequent watering or it would not survive the drought. I love my living plants. I couldn’t let it die. So I used the bottled water I purchased for drinking and cooking purposes to water my plant. Well, what happens when you use bottled water for watering plants? The bottle is quickly emptied and there is no water for drinking and cooking. So, in an effort to save my plant from drought I deprived myself. This doesn’t have to be. We don’t have to choose between loving and caring for others over ourselves. We need balance. I just needed to purchase more bottled water! How easy is that! We just need to take time for ourselves—to nourish ourselves, to re-energize and to feel good about who we are.

I know it sounds difficult to love yourself, especially if you focus on your faults and forget about your wonderful qualities and virtues. Virgos are especially good at that. We are so critical of ourselves. We remember everything we say and do—and it’s always wrong. Why did I say that? Why didn’t I do? The recordings go on and on. The situations change, but the message is the same—I didn’t say or do the right thing. And if we really mess up, we carry that memory with us forever. Virgos are not alone. It’s time all of us lighten up. We are not here to judge one another. We are here to love one another. Focus on the positive things you have accomplished during the day and over the years. Replace the negative recordings with positive ones. Choose to focus on all the wonderful gifts you have and share. Think of the person whose face lit up with a smile this morning because of something you said. Let me give you another example:

On January 2nd I was at the Farmer’s Market. To each vendor I did business with I wished a good year. The last vendor was a woman selling fruit. I paid for the fruit and wished her a good year. She thanked me with a sincere smile, then, as I walked away she motioned to me to me to come back. She held up a fruit saying, “For you,” and put the fruit in my bag. I thanked her, and as I walked away I thought to myself, “Am I the only one who wished her a good year? Does she think that because she speaks with an accent or sells fruit for a living that she doesn’t deserve good wishes? Or, does she think that we Americans see her as cheap labor, unworthy of anything more than that? These are the things that count—the things that make a person’s day—how we treat each other, how we respect each other—that’s what makes us feel good about ourselves. Everything else is just a gesture. Some of the gifts given on Valentine’s Day, or any other holiday, are given because it is expected. Every day is Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Bosses Day, Secretary’s Day, etc. Every day is a day we should appreciate and care for one another, Every day is a day to love ourselves as we love those special to us. One way to open the door to loving thyself is by letting the people in your world know how much you appreciate them on a daily basis. You will be doubly rewarded. First, you will feel better about yourself for doing so; second, you will receive similar positive feedback, whether in words, actions or deeds, from them.

Right now, even those with generally positive self-esteem are feeling down due to the economy and the insecurity of the job situation. Some employees have already had their hours cut, decreasing their salary. For those who have already lost their job, their entire self-worth is in jeopardy. They feel lost, ashamed and inadequate. They cannot provide for their families. In some cases they may have to uproot their families to make ends meet, which can be the cause for damaged relationships within the family. Some people are losing their homes, cars and other material things. This is a huge burden providers face when circumstances beyond our control present us with hard lessons—sometimes much harder than we think we can handle. This is a time when families must come together to love, accept and honor each other in a very special way. Our loved ones are more than material providers. They are important, unique people to us. They provide us with love, warmth, comfort, and belonging. Our love for them is greater than the material things money can buy. It’s important to remember that and to communicate it often. By doing so, our relationship is enhanced and our love grows stronger. Love thyself regardless of life’s circumstances. Circumstances change and we all survive.

Loving thyself is not selfish, because when you love yourself you take better care of your soul and your body. Embodying self-love is the greatest example we can set for our children As Dr. Oz stated to a group of women regarding their children on Good Morning America last Friday, “They’re not going to treat themselves the way you treat them. They will treat themselves the way you treat yourself.” Is that what you want for your children? Then set the example. Start loving yourself and those important to you by taking good care of your health. Make sure that your blood pressure and weight are at optimum levels for you to live a healthy life. Start loving yourself and those important to you by eating healthy foods and keeping alcohol consumption at a minimum. Start loving yourself and those important to you by not smoking and not using drugs. Start loving yourself and those important to you by participating in a variety of daily activities such as walking, swimming, tennis, dancing, reading, journaling, exercising, meditating, whatever you enjoy doing—every day, just for you, to release stress, increase your stamina, nourish your mind, and strengthen your body. When you love yourself, you feel good about yourself, and you will feel better about everything else around you—even your job. Everyone you love and care about will be happy with your decision to start loving and taking care of YOU because you will be much nicer to be around. Next time you are at the market or the mall take time to really look at the people walking about. Think to yourself, “Would I be happy walking next to this person?” If not, why not? Is the person carrying the weight of the world on his/her shoulder? Does this person appear angry, frustrated? Does this person have a dark shadow about him/her?

A few years ago I knew a man in his early 30s who couldn’t get a date. At a social we both attended I noticed that he had no problem introducing himself to women, but at the end of the night, he didn’t have a telephone number, email address or date with any of them. This young man questioned a newly married woman about his own age about this. He saw himself as a fine man with a good job, earning a good income. He was clean, neat, well groomed and nicely dressed. The young woman told him that he has to work on himself first. What did she mean by that? There was something negative about him. He had this dark cloud around him. This young man had unresolved issues that weighed him down. He did not love or appreciate himself. People are not attracted to others who appear to be “down” because it brings them down, too.

If you answer, “Yes, I would like to be walking next to this person,” what is it about that person that you are attracted to? People who love themselves have a special glow about them. They’re happy to be alive, no matter what life circumstances present. It’s almost like they are on their honeymoon every day. They may not be especially good looking, but they are beautiful. Their beauty comes from the inside. When you start loving yourself everyone will be much happier. Your spouse will be proud of you. Your children will be proud of you. And when they feel good about you and around you, you are taking better care of THEM than you can possibly know.

Remember Tula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Her self-esteem was suffering. She saw herself as fat, ugly, undesirable and stuck in her parents’ restaurant. Deep within she had a yearning for something more, so she signed up for computer classes. That was the first step toward self-actualization. Then she started taking care of her appearance. Now she was feeling better about herself. She started to glow. She was able to socialize. She was finding herself! And, she found a wonderful man who was willing to go the whole mile for her. During the baptism scene Tula had a momentary setback which she shared with her brother. Remember what she said? She said, “He must be thinking she’s so not worth it.” And her brother turned to her and said, “Yes you are.” Yes, we all are.

Everyone in the Portokalos family was proud of Tula’s achievements. And, she paved the way for her brother to follow his career dreams. Imagine how empowering it was for both of them to follow their heart and walk their own path?

Michael Masser and Linda Creed wrote a song recorded by Whitney Houston titled, Greatest Love of All. It is a beautiful song about empowering children. Some of the lyrics are:

  • I found the greatest love of all
  • Inside of me
  • The greatest love of all
  • Is easy to achieve
  • Learning to love yourself
  • It is the greatest love of all

Finding that love within may be the greatest gift you ever receive. The person who is empowered by self-love is happier, brighter, lighter, and never lonely when alone.

Jesus taught, “Love your neighbour as thyself'" (Matthew 22:37-39). This statement is a clear indication that self-love is, or should be, natural to each of us. Self-love is not a virtue that Scripture commends, but one of the facts of our humanity that it recognizes.

It’s our inborn freedom to value, accept and honor who we are regardless of our gifts, talents, virtues or circumstances. True self-esteem is free of self-delusion and self-congratulation. True humility is not thinking less of our self. It is being comfortable with who we are. It frees us to accept and love everyone as special and unique.

The great Swami Chaitanya Keerti, of the Osho Rajyoga Meditation Centre, in New Delhi shares his wisdom:

"When you wake up, just wash your face and look into the mirror. Look at yourself as if you are looking at your beloved, or at a child. Let your heart speak from your eyes and look with wondrous joy at who you are. For some moments, forget everything and be with yourself. These are the rare moments when you can pour all your love at yourself and feel blessed."

So, how do you begin to love thyself? You begin by visualizing all that you desire for yourself: good health, love, peace, joy, abundance, success—whatever you desire. Then you live your life as though you already have all that you desire. As Wayne Dyer says, “You will see it when you believe it.” So, start believing NOW!

When you love yourself that beautiful light from within shines out to others. Others can see it. They can feel it. They are attracted to you precisely because you love yourself, and they like you. They are comfortable around you. They don’t have to tip-toe around you for fear of hurting your feelings, bruising your ego, or spoiling your day. Your day is never spoiled when you are filled with self-love.

Love thyself unconditionally, honor thyself, cherish thyself, and take special care of thyself. You are a spark of light emanating from the source! Your presence maintains balance in the universe. Be proud. Love thyself!

Presented at LIGHT Bearers of the World~Irvine Chapter (POETs Worldwide), in Irvine, CA on February 10, 2009.

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