Have you ever heard the phrase - "Sometimes love isn't enough"? How is it possible that Love, the force that binds the Universe, the glue that holds the fabric of life together, could somehow not be enough? The answer lies in how we feel about ourselves - how we love and care for us. If we don't love ourselves then how can we truely be available to love anyone else? For women it takes the shape of the ever- available-always-doing-for-others-superwomen, for men it's the silent-strong-rock-with-no-feelings. Women end up being overly involved and concerned with every little thing around them and men end up withdrawing until they are nonexisitant in any relationship. No boundaries or no openings - two extremes of the same experience.
The Myth of Selfishness
Why do we so easily give parts of ourselves away or seal them off from human contact? Many are taught to live their lives these ways through their family experiences, what they observe in their culture and in social institutions. Another extremely influenetial part of our cultural experience is our media. The fantasy of love that the media portrays leaves us feeling insecure, and inadequate - we can't live up to that fantasy of love because at the same time our culture and media portray taking care of ourselves as selfish. When you give a part of yourself away or withhold a part of yourself, you shut down a cycle, a flow of energy that mantains a balance in ourselves and in all life. It's only when we are out of balance and out of touch with our true self and our own life that our behavior appears selfish. Yet, sometimes that selfishness is what's needed to bring back our lives back into balance.
When we are out of balance we attract experiences and people that will reflect back to us our own unconscious beliefs, fears, disfunction and misperceptions about ourselves and our world. When we are in balance and loving ourselves we are expressing our Authentic Self, our true Essence to the world and we can attract people, situations, relationships that are real and lasting. Balance is not an "equal" thing - it's not split down the middle. Think of walking a tightrope, sometimes an arm is stuck out over there and a leg over here and yet there is balance, the tightrope walker does not fall. Balance is not about being perfect, it's about working with and doing the best you can with the resources you have available to you at that time. Balance is a flexible, mutable experience that feels peaceful inside.
Letting Our Visions Emerge
So what's loving ourselves really about? This acronym for Love is a good way to explain it - Love is about "Letting Our Visions Emerge". It's about sharing our vision of ourselves, of others, of the world and how we want to blend, meld and co-create with those forces. In order to love, we must grow and in order to grow we must love.
So what are some ways we can love and nurture ourselves and create and maintain our balance?
~Prioritize, be honest about what you really want to be
involved in and with whom
~Be realistic about the amount of time and energy you have to give to things outside of yourself
~Create a peaceful restful environment in your personal space (home, work etc)
~Limit or eliminate your contact with those people and situations that are negative or unsupportive of your personal growth
~Take time to do things you really enjoy - if you've been out of balance so long that you've lost your sense of what you like and want to do, try the following exercise. Put a pad of paper and a pen or pencil beside you wherever you sleep. First thing when you wake up write down 5 things you would do that day if you could do anything you wanted to do. Do this for three weeks, at the end of that time you will have a good idea of what you need to nurture yourself and how you want to live your life.
~Take time to be quiet - if you have challenges sitting still or being alone that usually indicates something we are afraid to address within ourselves
~Be aware and don't judge your "performance" - this is about you loving yourself, you know what is right for you
~Be open to change
Loving ourselves begins with a vision. As our vision changes and expands it teaches everyone we encounter how to love themselves, and isn't that the best gift of all?
Published on Fire Through Spirit Website in 2004