The Beatles sang about it. Shakespeare wrote about it. You can get bitten by its bug. It conquers all. You can fall in it. You can fall out of it. You can pluck petals off a petunia pondering on it. But you can’t buy it. The word I’m talking about of course is LOVE.
This is such a broad topic though, so I will write about the ultimate expression of it which is self-love and, further, self-care.
The capacity to which we chose to love ourselves decides the capacity we have to love others.
I would like to share with you that in writing this blog I was flooded with loving interruptions. If it wasn’t my 6 year-old bringing me love notes or having love messages pop up on my screen, I was surrounded by this warm energy to write about this topic.
I was supported. I was loved.
How very fitting and divine.
In the wake of my divorce, I really had to figure out how to love myself again. This was starting all over- a new beginning, if you will. There was never a more crucial time in life to show my kids what a woman who loves herself looks like.
I was on my own and it was so easy to fall into the trap of neglecting to care for myself in favour of trying to figure out how to survive this trauma.
Like many, I used to believe that love was earned from somewhere outside of me and that self-love meant I was selfish or conceited on some level. Boy, was I ever wrong!
In fact, it is the other way around. Self-care is self-LESS. Being willing to accept help and support from others was a huge step in this process, and giving myself as much time to grieve as I needed was my first courageous act of self-compassion.
You can’t give from an empty bucket. Taking care of yourself first is like filling your bucket. When you fill yours you have plenty to give from your overflow.
I would much rather give my kids 100% than 60%- 60% is called not showing up in life. And they deserve better. I deserve better.
Correction: I deserve better so that they can HAVE better. Isn’t that what we all want for our loved ones?
To share with you the backstory of this subject is to let you in on the foundation of self-care and how we are inspired to take action based on loving kindness. It starts with a long hard look in the mirror much like the words of Michael Jackson’s song “Man in a Mirror”. It starts with love.
To fully talk about love, we must also address its equal and opposite emotion:
FEAR or False Evidence Appearing Real.
Because in order to understand our capacity to rise up and be the best versions of ourselves we must also understand what pulls us down and keeps us stuck in an old story. In the words of Sir Isaac Newton- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The key here is not to think of fear as love’s nemesis, opponent, or ugly cousin but to simply to acknowledge it. Because if you give it that energy you are feeding it with more fear. Fear has a role in our lives to keep us safe. It is hardwired in all of us. It’s just the extent to which we let it run our lives which dictates our freedom or our self-imposed prisons.
In the Cherokee story of two wolves, an elder is teaching his grandson about life. He says inside all of us is a battle between two wolves. One is fear and all other negative emotions and the other is love and all other positive emotions. The grandson thinks about it and asks “Which wolf wins?” To which the grandfather replies “the one you feed”.
Love and fear are both choices. Anything done in the absence of love is therefore done in the presence of fear.
This is all really great, Kendra, but where in the heck do we start? Well, lets outline what self-love or self-care means.
To me, self-care is anything you do in your life that feels good, that makes you healthier, and that adds longevity. It is about adding life to your years and years to your life. It’s about having the courage to step up to the plate, being accountable for your experience, and claiming your personal power. Self-care is about becoming a better version of yourself. Everyone will have a different definition of it because our experiences are unique to us.
In order to give yourself this gift, you must move over to a space of kindness to the self. This means, in part, acknowledging negative things you experience or say to yourself in your life as untruths.
Is this really the truth about me or a primal lie that is keeping me stuck in fear?
It looks like drinking that glass of filtered water so you don’t become dehydrated, reading a really great book just because, and taking a walk in the fresh morning air. It looks like concert tickets to go see that band you’ve always loved, eating better to FEEL better, and clearing out that messy space that’s been weighing you down. It looks like coffee with an old friend, taking a nap on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and curling up in front of the fire with a warm mug of homemade hot chocolate.
“Your life is a love story. It is the story of how much you are willing to love yourself so that you can love others and be loved.” That is a quote from the book Loveability by Robert Houlden. I think he nails it!
Every one of the examples I gave in the very beginning can be turned within. To give William Shakespeare a modern nod: “How do I love me? Let me count the ways.”
If we are to realize our true potential in love, we must look within first and then give from our abundance.
Both love and fear have a place in our lives. The one you feed is the one that survives.
And it all starts with a decision…
Happy Love Month Everyone!
Yours in self-care,