What Does It Actually Mean To Love Yourself?

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loveyourselfMany of us know that we need to be loving to ourselves, but what does this actually mean?

Since most of us had little or no role modeling regarding loving ourselves when we were growing up, it’s often challenging to know what loving ourselves looks like.

 

Sarah asks:

“All I know about ‘loving oneself’ is to not let anyone (anymore) abuse me in any way, including yelling, criticizing me, etc. As I write this, it sounds like I just described ‘protecting myself,’ so maybe I don’t know what loving myself REALLY means. I would love to hear your definition.”

 

Let’s look at what loving yourself means and what it doesn’t mean.

Loving yourself doesn’t mean:

  • “I’m just going to take care of me. Too bad if you don’t like it.”
     
  • “I’m not responsible for how my behavior affects you. That’s your problem.”
     
  • “If you love me, you will do what I want (whatever that is).”
     
  • “I’m only trying to help you and support you in what I believe is good for you –- even though you haven’t asked for my help or my opinion.”
     
  • “I’ll put my full attention on you and sacrifice myself for you so you will put your full attention on me and sacrifice yourself for me.”
     
  • “When I’m hurting it’s your fault, and it’s up to you to fix it.”
     
  • “Since I need your attention and approval to feel good about myself, it’s okay for me to do whatever I can to get what I need –- such as being overly nice, being angry, blaming you or withdrawing my love from you.”
     
  • “If you love me, and I end up disabled or dying as a result of not taking care of myself physically, that’s your problem, not mine.”

Loving yourself does mean:

  • “I am responsible for learning to manage and regulate my own feelings so that I don’t dump my anger, neediness and pain on you.”
     
  • “I am responsible for defining my own worth and giving myself the attention I need, so that I am not in need of getting this from you, and so I can share my love with you, including supporting you in doing what brings you joy.”
     
  • “I am responsible for managing my time, my space and my finances in ways that make me feel safe and don’t place an unnecessary burden on you.”
     
  • “I am responsible for learning how to access a spiritual source of love so that I can share love with you, rather than trying to get love from you.”
     
  • “I am responsible for taking care of my physical wellbeing – eating healthy foods, getting exercise and getting enough sleep, so that you don’t eventually have to take physical care of me, unnecessarily.”
     
  • “I am responsible for the effect my behavior has on you when I have acted out in ways that are hurtful to you.”
     
  • “I am responsible for taking loving care of you when you are my responsibility — because you are my child, or you are old, sick or disabled and I have agreed to take care of you. There are times when it is loving to me to put myself aside for you, like when you are an infant or toddler and you need me, or when you cannot take care of yourself.”

 

It took me many years of inner work to discover what loving myself looks like for me, and it may be different for you, since each of us has different things that make us feel loved and important. What makes you feel loved and important?

 

Start learning to love yourself now by taking our free Inner Bonding course at http://www.innerbonding.com/welcome

 

Resentment VS. Forgiveness: What is the difference?

Forgiveness

 

“I’ll never forgive Andrew for what he did to me. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness,” Carolyn told me in one of our early phone sessions. Carolyn’s focus was on whether or not Andrew deserved to be forgiven, rather than on whether or not it was loving for her to forgive or to continue holding resentment.

 

Take a moment to tune into how you feel when you choose to hold on to blame. Do you feel happy, open, peaceful, and joyous, or do you feel angry, tense, closed, and unhappy?

 

What Carolyn didn’t realize is that forgiving someone is not about them. It is about taking loving care of ourselves by releasing ourselves from resentment and blame. It is about moving out of being a victim of others’ choices and taking responsibility for our own feelings of wellbeing.

 

“But what Andrew did was unforgivable,” Carolyn told me. “How can I forgive him for cheating on me and ruining our marriage? How can I forgive him for leaving me for a younger woman, for breaking up our family, and for the pain he has caused our children? What he did hurt so many people. Why should I forgive him for it? Wouldn’t that be the same as condoning his behavior?”

 

This is a common misconception – that forgiveness is the same as condoning. I remember reading about a woman whose adolescent son got shot and killed by another adolescent boy. While this mother was deeply heartbroken and never condoned what the other boy did, she not only forgave him, she got to know him and helped him to heal the pain that led to his shooting her son.

 

It is not loving to ourselves to condone others’ unloving behavior, nor is it loving to ourselves to continue to hold negative feelings in our body. Resentment is like a poison that continues to feed upon it self, creating more and more darkness.

 

“Carolyn, what are you afraid of if you let go of your resentment and forgive Andrew for what he did?”

“I’m afraid he will think that what he did is okay.”

“At this point, why are you concerned with what he thinks? What difference does it make to your life right now what he thinks?”

“I just don’t want him to think that he can just act like this and get away with it.”

“So you are punishing him by holding blame and resentment within yourself?”

“Yeah, I guess I am. He should be punished.”

“And who do you think is suffering as a result of your punishing him?”

“Well, certainly not him! He is having the time of his life!”

“Are you suffering as a result of focusing on punishing him instead of taking loving care of yourself?”

“Well, I am miserable. But I’m miserable because of what he did to me.”

“I know that is what you believe, but the truth is that you are miserable because you are focusing on punishing him rather than on taking loving care of yourself. You are being a victim, blaming him for your feelings. Your feelings are being caused by what you are telling yourself and how you are treating yourself – not by anything Andrew has done. From what you told me in our last session, you weren’t any happier before Andrew left than you are now. You were always making him responsible for you and he never did it right enough for you. As long as you have your eyes on him instead of on taking loving care of yourself, you will feel miserable.”

“I’m tired of being miserable. That’s why I called you. But I don’t know how to forgive him.”

“Carolyn, forgiveness is a natural outcome of taking loving care of yourself. As you practice learn to take responsibility for your own pain and joy, you will stop blaming Andrew for your feelings. The more you learn how to love the beautiful essence that is within you, the more you will find yourself forgiving Andrew.”

 

Resentment toward others is a clear sign that we are not taking care of ourselves. As you shift your intent from blaming others to loving yourself, you will find that forgiveness follows naturally.

 

Start learning to love yourself now by taking our free Inner Bonding course at http://www.innerbonding.com/welcome.

5 Vital Keys to Health and Wellbeing

IMG_7225I was a sickly child and I hated being sick. In my early 20s (which was 54 years ago!) I decided that I was done being sick and done not having energy to do all the things I wanted to do. I started doing research on what creates health, and I was fortunate to read a few books that changed my life. At that time, I threw everything out of my kitchen and started to do my grocery shopping at the one tiny health food store in Santa Monica, California.

 

As I got off all processed foods, stopped eating sugar and ate only organic foods, my health improved rapidly. My excitement about how good I felt led to a life-long passion for learning about what creates excellent health and wellbeing. I discovered that we each need to address five major life areas to create excellent health.

 

1. FOOD – Eat for a balanced gut

There are many ways of eating and there is no one way that works for everyone. Each of us needs to tune into our body to see what feels best, perhaps it’s eating a Paleo or modified Paleo diet, a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet. However, whichever suits you, there are some general guidelines that apply to everyone.

 

Recent research indicates that 80% of our immune system is in our gut, and that the balance or imbalance of our gut flora affects our organs and our brain. An imbalanced gut is caused by antibiotics and other drugs, by processed, sugared and pesticide-laden foods, by bad air, fluoridated water, too much alcohol, over-exercising and stress.

 

Eating fresh, local and organic foods goes a long way toward creating health, as does including fermented foods with each meal (unless you are suffering from SIBO – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. If this is the case, it’s best to work with a functional medicine doctor to heal the SIBO before including fermented foods in your diet). An imbalanced gut can cause both physical and emotional problems.

 

2. EXERCISE – The best exercise is what you do naturally

It is very important to find exercise that you love to do so that you look forward to doing it and want to do it your whole life. Research indicates that the best exercise is what you do naturally – gardening, walking, fun sports and so on. Intense or extreme exercise, such as running marathons, tends to create an imbalance in the gut flora (called gut dysbiosis), and can even create gut permeability (leaky gut).

 

3. HYDRATION – (Sorry, coffee doesn’t count, it’s a dehydrator!)

Our bodies need good, clean filtered water – about ½ ounce per pound of weight – so a 150-pound person would need 75 ounces of water daily. Coffee doesn’t count as it is dehydrating. Not enough water can cause insomnia, anxiety and muscle cramps. However, overdoing it and drinking too much water isn’t healthy either.

 

4. SLEEP – Skimping on zzz’s weakens your immunity

A lack of sleep greatly lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off illness. Most people need at least seven good hours of sleep a night to keep their immune system healthy.

 

5. STATE OF MIND – I put this last on the list, yet it’s the most important. 

Research indicates that stress is a major cause of 90% of all illness. Most people have no idea how to lovingly manage life’s stressors. They might run or meditate, and this might help, but what creates the most inner peace is learning how to take loving responsibility for your feelings. This means that you learn to move toward your painful feelings rather than push them away with various addictions. It means embracing all your feelings with a desire to learn about what they are telling you.

 

All our feelings have information for us. There are two basic kinds of painful feelings:

            1) Wounded Feelings we create by our own self-abandonment, such as anxiety, depression (these can also be caused or exacerbated by a gut imbalance), guilt, shame, anger, emptiness, aloneness, jealousy and so on.

These feelings tell us that we are being unloving to ourselves by ignoring our feelings, judging ourselves, turning to addictions to numb our feelings, or           making others responsible for our feelings.

            2) Core Painful Feelings of life, such as loneliness, heartbreak, grief and helplessness over others and events. These feelings are telling us a lot about what is happening with others and with situations and events.

When our desire is to love ourselves rather than to try to control our feelings or control others, we open to learning with our feelings, which can lead to understanding, acceptance, peace and joy. Learn to love yourself now by taking our free Inner Bonding course at http://www.innerbonding.com/welcome!