(This is a piece i wrote a few years ago. I thought it was worth a repeat.)
There is a question which has come across FaceBook in the past few weeks – about listing the things in your life you love – and then the hook is; how long would it take you to list yourself? Brutal, right? No? Then perhaps you haven’t thought about it – at least it was for me. In fact, so much so, I am awake at 1:00 am right now, days……. perhaps weeks after first reading it, still thinking about it. Brutal.
Do we really love ourselves? Do you love yourself deeply, honorably, with integrity, compassion, kindness and respect? Do you observe how others treat themselves, what they find acceptable behavior by others TO themselves in their own lives? Do you notice how others allow themselves to be bullied, talked into and many times forced? Do you see how easily others say yes to anything – when they simply want to say no? Do you see how by choice, people feed themselves absolute crap? Do you see how people do not allow themselves to say yes to fun, to leisure, to time off – and instead work like a slave, find MORE to do, insist on doing someone else’s workload? Have you ever truly, with the eyes and heart of an observer, watched how another person allows themselves to be treated? Go ahead. What do you see?
I have believed that for many years, I have lived my life treating others as I treat myself – with love, kindness and compassion. BUT, this formidable FaceBook (oxymoron?) inquiry has got me going for sure, and I wonder if I am as kind to myself, as loving to myself; as I am to others. I seriously doubt it.
Like many soul friends on a spiritual path of awakening and heart centered awareness, I have strived to be kind to all around me. I have taken my Buddhist vows, read all the books, practiced all the meditations, paused before speaking, gone to workshops, presented at workshops, volunteered my time, been in service, been a daily meditator, been mostly vegan, a pure essence oil dowsing, flower essence taking, non-main stream preferred healing centered person who has written about self-care, thought about self-care, done self-care, expressed the importance of self-care, helped my little girl feel safe, been in therapy, done years of work as a counselor, teacher and guide, ministered to the dying; yup, been a good woman, no doubt about it, I can give myself that one – but do I love myself, this is the question.
Perhaps loving oneself is not the other side of a coin, not simply the flip side of I treat others as I treat myself – but is a two sided facet itself? Stay with me here – we all seek balance in our lives, yet within each one of those balance seeking experiences lies more lopsided facets which require even more balance. Cosmos within a cosmos, right? What if loving me not only means self-care, but self-asking? Not inquiry – that is leisurely and can be open ended; but direct asking. And the balance of that; direct answering. Brutal, right?
Since I have read the ‘formidable’ question of how long it would take for me to list myself as one of the things in my life I love; I have been observing – a lot. To be honest, I have had to observe, because I quickly, instantly, immediately realized; I never would have made my list. Really. If I had casually answered that question out loud, as I did silently in my own mind; the list of things I love in this life are truly extensive! – But, me, myself and I would not have made the list. Gotta be honest here – nope, not on it, not even close. Even thinking about speaking, writing or considering putting me on my own list makes my skin crawl. Yikes, got some work to do.
What does it look like? Do I know anyone who lives as if they love themselves? And if I do, is my first reaction that they are selfish? Good question.
Do not misunderstand me, I have a good life – I treat my life well, my family & friends with love – but I also know I do not receive well, or gracefully, or at all. A dear sister friend pointed out to me recently, I am really, really good at giving compliments to others, but taking one is agony. Yup, this is true. (No, the truth is TWO friends have pointed that out to me recently, without any premeditated conversation I might add; just out of the great blue ethers. Damn. )
I love my friends, but do I love myself? I love Jesus, but do I love myself? I love my clients, but do I love myself? I love my child, but do I love myself? I love God, but do I love myself? I love my husband, work, my purpose, my congregations, my home, my yard, my art, my gardens……………but, do I really, truly, palpably, with tenderness, kindness and deep caring; love myself?
Loving oneself has nothing to do with ego, but has to do with the quest of treating yourself with the same simple kindness and caring you treat others. If you are a giving person, do you give to yourself? If you are thoughtful to others, are you to yourself? If you listen well to others, do you listen to your own needs? If you encourage others to take time off and enjoy life, do you take time off and enjoy life? If you tell others to wonder what they want first, and then go with that – do you do the same for yourself? If you are one of those helpful, always there for other people type persons; are you also there for yourself?
I realize the common story is women do not know how to do this – for too long we have been taught to push ourselves aside in favor of taking care of others –and the generational martyrdom has built layers upon layers of sacrifice – but I am trying to present this questioning with a deeper sense of loving oneself, men and women, with the same compassion and respect we may love anything else, and anyone else – with self-listening skills from the heart, with enthusiasm, support and joy……………with enough awareness to easily place oneself on the list of things they love in life. Not on the list because it is a belief that we are God in form, that we are each child of the most high Creator of the universe – BUT because we really like ourselves? Care for ourselves? Think of ourselves with love. Treat ourselves lovingly.
Last weekend I, my husband and another couple went for a short hike. As I was moving forward, in an upward direction, (with the incorrect shoes on I might add)……i fell backwards. I landed on my backside, flat against the rocky hill, head heading south, feet north – yet all my bruising is on my left side; my left knee, my left buttocks, my left; the side of receiving, of the Divine Feminine.
What would I say to another who came to me with this story?
Wow, that is great! Your body’s wisdom is showing you and supporting you to open to receiving more – getting jostled up a bit, not getting really hurt, you continued the hike, right? You enjoyed the rest of the day? It was this little hiccup; perfect, just enough to force you to receive.
What do you mean?
Well, didn’t you say you had to ask for help? Or you chose to ask for help? You had the other three folks each help turn you around? You said your head was heading south, your feet facing up the hill and you asked for them to turn you around before you moved on your own?
You received help.
So, are you equating loving myself with receiving help?
Well, how do you express love to others?
So, if you were to make a list of all the things you love about your life, would you be on your list?