Love Me? Love You!
Happy Valentine’s Day! As a matchmaker and human, I love this celebration of love. Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if we expressed our loving sentiments EVERY day? For now, let’s break out those cards and flowers and personal expressions of love for one another in honor of February 14th.
This month’s focus is “Loving Oneself.” It is said that we can’t fully love others if we don’t love ourselves. As a person who struggles with loving myself, I’ve often found this phrase annoying or condemnatory, as if my own self-doubts somehow cast a shadow over my most significant relationships. Maybe I don’t really love my son because I’m not in love with everything I do as a parent? Maybe I’m a crappy wife because I don’t take fantastic care of myself? Perhaps the only alternative is to go to a cave and get myself straight before I subject others to my company!
Well, I’m not planning to go to a cave and I really don’t think that “working on oneself” in solitude is the answer AT ALL. We grow through our relationships with others. We learn through our interactions as well as by our own introspective process. So, don’t run from people so that you can work everything out to be ready to be in relationship. Know that relationships are imperfect and that the players are imperfect and that it is worth it anyway. Remember too, that relationships skills can always grow. Love is always fluid, always an action, never a static state. I don’t have to constantly experience love for myself in order to love you. I do need to treat myself in loving ways in order to treat you in a healthy loving way. I can’t eat horrible food, get no exercise and fill my head with negative self-talk and expect to show up for you in a positive, loving way.
So, how do we love ourselves before we’ve reached enlightenment??
Try this exercise:
Imagine that you are the sole caretaker for a beautiful child. What would you do to nurture that child’s body, mind and spirit? Would you:
Have the child smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or consume my personal favorite vice, Diet Pepsi?
Make the child stay awake even when exhausted?
Binge-watch TV together?
Hang around negative people who tell the child how horrible the world is or, worse yet, how unworthy he or she is?
Or would you:
Feed your child super healthy foods.
Get out in nature every day.
Be with positive people who brighten the day.
Take naps when tired.
Run, Play, Ride Bikes, Dance.
Go to a museum.
Make music, paint a picture, read a poem.
Whisper words of encouragement and love to the child.
IMAGINE: You are the child. You are the caregiver. You can love yourself the way you would care for a precious child. This child doesn’t have to earn love and care. This child gets to learn love and care.
So, dear readers, my invitation to you this Valentine’s day is to treat yourself to a healthy life. As you love yourself this way, you will be better able to love others. It is true, if you want to love others, you need to be loving toward yourself! If you don’t already have a practice of being loving to yourself, start right now!! Want help? Call me!
-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox