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Wishing You Love This Valentine’s Day!

Today is a day to share our love with our beloveds. Some of us may not have a special someone. But regardless of either, the strongest love of ALL is with ourselves.

As Oscar Wilde says, To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance . . .

“Self-love” seems to be a thing right now. It’s almost become cliché. What the heck does it mean anyway?

There was a point in my life when, if I heard those words, I felt confused.

I got it on a physical level. I understood it meant I needed to take care of my body. To eat well, exercise, not abuse food or drugs, etc.

Or, to care for my environment by keeping my home and workspace clean and peaceful, knowing that my “outside” affects my insides. And vice versa.

I understood self-love on the spiritual level too: Like giving back and being of service. Gratitude. Finding stillness. Or having a supportive community of conscious, healthy people.

I also learned that, if I didn’t love myself, the relationships I chose would mirror that. I could only get from another person what I was willing to give myself—such as care, trust, and respect.

But there was one place where I had a challenge:

Too often, I was hard on myself. My opportunity was to learn how to treat myself gently and with tenderness.

When we were kids, if we did something bad or wrong, we were punished. Or our church/temple/mosque made us believe that a God would punish us.

So we grew up thinking that the only way to get the lesson was to chastise ourselves. We thought, if we beat ourselves up over and over again, we might get it.

This way of thinking is the OPPOSITE of loving and in fact, only makes the issue worse.

Self-abasement creates guilt, regret and shame. We harm our hearts and the hearts of others. We hide or cower. Our self-esteem is cut to the quick.

HOW DO WE NOT DO THIS?

First, we get to remember our humanness:

The very fact we’re on this earth means that we’re loveable.

Then, we get to recondition how we learn: To see every act—no matter how bad or wrong (except of course, sociopathy)—as an opportunity to be MORE kind, compassionate, and accepting of ourselves. The result is more kindness, compassion and acceptance for others.

Funny, this whole way of thinking goes against how we were brought up to think.

We thought we had to be HARD on ourselves to learn. We thought we needed to GET IT IN GEAR. We thought we needed to DRIVE THE NAIL IN MORE.

If we attempt to create change with this kind of heavy hand (that carries a hammer, mallet or bludgeon) we set ourselves up for more suffering.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:

Take it easy.

Keep it simple.

Soften.

Let it go. (Really.)

Don’t focus on it. Put your attention on something else. Something even light and fun. Or soothing.

Shrug your shoulders at “mistakes.” (In the words of Homer Simpson, D’oh!)

Take a walk. Or a nap. Or something to sweat it off like cardio.

Offer permission for it to be present, knowing that this too will pass.

Place your hand on your heart and fill it with all the warmth, patience, and good intention you have.

Then, self-love grows. It overflows and expands.

Wishing you a very Happy Heart Day!

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Lynn Newman