"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" ~Mark 12:31
We need to love ourselves if we are to adequately love others. If we don't know how to love ourselves how in the world can we follow this commandment?
If you were to treat others how you treat yourself, what would this look like? Would you neglect them in favor of working extra hours all of the time? Would you withhold gifts and joy because they felt overindulgent? Would you feed them food right out of the pan or give them a box full of cookies en lieu of dinner because you were too busy or tired?
"Self love" has become a household phrase. It is promoted as important on multiple platforms. We hear it all of the time. Sometimes it can even feel stressful to think about "loving" ourselves because we feel like there is not enough time in the day to squeeze in the bubble bath or the weekly massage that we imagine when we think of the suggestion. Maybe we feel like we get along just fine checking off the boxes throughout the day. I have certainly wrestled with this complex topic.
What really helps me is to think about my general love language. What makes me feel loved by those who are closest to me?
As I was pondering the topic I came up with this infographic.
What is self love? It can take many forms!
Is it coddling ourselves?
❤️Sitting in armchair and watching our favorite shows.
❤️Excusing ourselves from responsibility and or transferring responsibility to others...
❤️Avoiding hard things because they hurt temporarily
❤️Eating sweets and drinking wine
OR...Is it ...
❤️Sharpening ourselves, making ourselves better humans
❤️Expecting integrity from ourselves
❤️Doing hard things so that we can do harder things and harder things
There are points from both lists that nurture us at different times. Being all of one or the other leads to imbalance, dissatisfaction and confusion about how to love others.
We all experienced an upheaval in 2020. We each responded differently to our drastic schedule changes and altered lifestyle. I've observed a lot of people saying that they gained a lot of weight during this eventful year. I slipped into my own mild versions of debauchery. .. mild but bad enough that I was sick of it by the end of the year and inspired to break free.
I probably went overboard and will rebound a little, but it felt good to abandon the funky gooey feeling of eating all of the baked goods and drinking all of the wine and cocktails that I wanted when I wanted to. I call that itch scratching. I like to go all in until it drives me crazy and then I swing the other direction with discipline until I get discipline fatigue and once that sets in, I strike a balance between the two modes of living. It is seasonal...or cyclical. I know that my approach isn't necessarily the most common. But it works for me! You might be more systematic. Indulgence might send you off on a never ending binge. Maybe an itch scratch just spreads the itch for you. Experiment and find a good fit.
Here is what I am doing today. These things represent the love language that I illustrated in the infographic. I have framed it with a challenge #75hard that I joined in order to give myself a significant enough period of time to make habits stick and to have a community for accountability.
To free up the mental energy it takes to make decisions...for 75 days (starting in Jan) I have been:
Abstaining from alcohol 💯
Completing two workouts per day without exception with one of them being outside
These are the two non negotiable items
In addition I have been without overthinking (which means barely thinking at all...because if I did I would not do this) turning the temperature dial to cold 3x during my shower session.
This is good for me as it can :
-Help to improve metabolism
-Stimulate leukocytes to help fight off colds and other illnesses
-Just make me feel really good. I feel happy after a cycled cold and hot shower.
-Contribute to a resilient mindset.
The 75 hard challenge has more to it than this, but I found that I was getting burned out on all of the rules that didn't necessarily serve me. In order to avoid the rebound back into debauchery I decided to simplify it and to be happy with accomplishing the two simple tasks and extra happy if I checked off the whole list.
Self love comes in so many forms. Just make sure your cup is full!