Talking about love brings a myriad of emotions. We think of our sweethearts, our hearts tug when we consider our little munchkins, friends, siblings, parents…they all make the list ahead of one person.
Am I right? Loving ourselves is often unfairly forced to wrestle with the concept of selfishness and narcissism. We avoid taking care of ourselves while “waiting for Superman to lift us up and show us love.” Is it no wonder we end up resentful, depleted and generally disappointed. This leaves our sweeties feeling increasingly confused as to HOW to love us when we refuse to love ourselves and (heaven forbid!) ask for what we need.
This is the place I spend a lot of my time, and I’m in rehab. Rehab for forgetting myself. A twelve step program for martyrs who let someone else get everything they need while huffing out resentful sighs. There’s a special section in this recovery zone for mothers, wives and women in general. Not always, but OFTEN, women are the ones who end up beleaguered and overwhelmed, beating themselves up until they need to get a restraining order from THEMSELVES!
Does this resonate with anyone?
Yeah, me to.
TWELVE STEPS is a lot for a Wednesday, so I’m going to give a FIVE STEP program for loving yourself. Put aside your protests. Tie up that bully in your head and just consider what it would be like if you put these steps into practice everyday. And then check yourself in. It’s time to start loving the amazing YOU that God has created.
1. Give yourself permission –
To create, to breathe, to leave dishes in the sink at night. Give yourself permission to be imperfect, messy and just a bit out of control. It’s hard to keep a balance, it honestly is. I’m still finding it post baby. We have swung fairly far into the chaos side of things, the place where I feel completely uncomfortable. However, Saturday my infamous hallway got vacuumed. Terribly. By an eleven year old who really just wanted to be playing on his Kindle. But it’s done and I can breathe easier knowing one layer of mess has been conquered and it will continue to be until we find that beautiful balance that comes with allowing myself to ask for help and let things be imperfect.
2. Take Five –
Or thirty. Give yourself a self induced TIME OUT once a day. Wake up fifteen minutes earlier. Stay up a little later. Lock yourself in the bathroom or in your closet. Put on a really good show for the Littles and hop in the shower with a candle burning (and the door locked so you don’t have to worry!). Allow yourself a moment to breathe (again, highly recommended!), to pray, to think about what your priorities are and what you can let go. You need this if only to close your eyes and find your center – no matter how you do it. No one can keep running on fumes forever. It’s impossible. When we force that on our bodies, on our spirits, addictions – the kind that aren’t funny or admirable – become a reality. Don’t do it. Allow yourself to be human.
3. Treat yourself
Each of us have something we’ve been putting off UNTIL. We’re waiting, denying ourselves the simple pleasures of life until we can’t handle it any longer. Why do we do that? Why do we refuse to get a babysitter when our hubbies end up working late. Instead we stay home fuming at missing that movie, that girl’s night out, that moment of relief that would have given us balance. I am slowly learning this. Go to that movie. Have that lunch out with your friends. Go hiking. Sign up for a race. Set aside creative time and honor it. Soak in the tub with a good book. Treat yourself to what you love, what gives you renewed energy and focus. In the words of Nike – JUST DO IT.
4. Work Toward Your Dreams
Make a vision board, take baby steps, LEAP! We live our best life when we are working toward our dreams. Look around. If your life is so bound down by obligations that you can’t work toward your dreams, it’s time to make some changes. They don’t have to be drastic. But every single step in the right direction is going to make your dreams come true. It starts by being TRUE to yourself about what you really love, even if it seems silly to everyone else. The best ideas, the greatest dreams, the most important goals are sometimes the ones other people would roll their eyes at. You know what? GO FOR IT! Let them roll their eyes because it’s not THEM you have to impress. This is about YOU and being true to your life’s purpose. Give yourself permission to LEAP.
Seriously (ha ha!) LAUGH! We need a hefty sense of humor to make it through this life in one piece! Man, oh man do I forget this. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate someone who can make me laugh. I read your posts on FB or your Tweets and chuckle to myself and it feels like I’m five pounds lighter. Talk about a simple weight loss plan! We need to laugh. We need to find levity and light and happiness in this life and our own personal situation. There is never a day that should pass where we don’t laugh, smile and remember that LIFE IS GOOD. We take things way too seriously and it’s heavy. It’s heavy on our shoulders, it weighs down our children who delight in laughing over NOTHING (ever heard a three year old tell a Knock Knock Joke? That is true creativity! :)) If you don’t remember how, look at the Littles. They get it. Laughter is a part of their daily existence.
For my kids, it usually revolves around some kind of potty humor. You’re kids don’t do that? They don’t mention Poopie in every conversation. Oh. Neither do mine.
I don’t care how you do it. Watch a Youtube of Brian Reegan. Read the morning comics. Have a random toddler tell you a Knock Knock Joke. Whatever you do, LAUGH. Laugh and smile and breathe (there it is again!). Because YOU are worth it, you marvelous, beautiful, powerful human being. YOU, are worth it all.