“For you are the beloved just as you are.”
– Denise Linn
I’ve been watching with curiosity as the coming Valentine’s Day invokes sheer giddiness in some and downright annoyance or melancholy in others. I’m wondering which end of the spectrum you land in this year?
I’ve spent a lot of Valentine’s Days in my life un-partnered with the bitter-single-person’s directive telling me I should hate this holiday. I have to admit though…I actually really like Valentines Day. Sure, it’s partly because it always gives me a great excuse to drink good red wine and eat expensive dark chocolate even on a weekday (awesome), but it’s also about getting a day dedicated to the celebration of LOVE – one of the most transforming powers in the world.
However, do you know who we are least likely to share that transforming power of love with on Valentine’s Day or – let’s be honest – any other day? Got a mirror handy? That’s right, and most of us not only don’t love ourselves, we’re positively mean, cold, and ruthless towards ourselves!
Think about how you deprive yourself most days at work of decent food or even just a deep breath! Or, how you constantly and silently berate yourself (“That was a stupid thing to say!”, “Why do you look so fat?”, “You’re such a big fake”). How about the way you withhold all joy and validation from yourself until that fabled day when you’ve attained the perfect weight, the perfect amount of money, the perfect purpose, the perfect mate, etc.? This is the way you treat the only person who’s been in your life since your first breath and guaranteed to be with you until your last?!
If you yearn to be accepted and loved by those in your life but that’s not happening as deeply and satisfyingly as you crave, you need to consider two things:
1) The way you love yourself models how others should love you. If you’re not connecting, cherishing, or showing true affection to yourself, don’t expect it to come from anywhere else.
2) When you haven’t learned to accept and love yourself, it doesn’t matter how much others try to love you, you will never quite believe them and that love will never seem like enough.
Of course like any relationship, learning to accept and deeply love yourself takes commitment and time, but as Valentines Day approaches I want you to at least start flirting with the idea. ; ) It begins with stopping and listening when your body is calling out for attention, being kinder with yourself about where you actually are right now versus where you should be, and regularly celebrating the uniqueness of you.
So in that vein, I lovingly offer you some simple and practical ways to get this love affair with yourself off the ground…
“Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers, plant and harvest your own garden…”
5 Tools for Cultivating Self-love
1. Date with Self – A love affair begins with courting. So, schedule in an afternoon or evening to go out and consciously be with your own company. Be sure to get gussied up for yourself… Women, wear something that makes you feel really good and put on your favourite perfume. Men, shave and pull out your best boxers. Take yourself somewhere you’ve been longing to go – that charming café you keep passing, that movie no one but you seems to be dying to see, an art gallery, sky-diving…. Treat yourself to a decadent snack or buy some luscious flowers for yourself. Be on the lookout for experiences that will make you feel pampered and appreciated.
2. Mirror, Mirror – After reading this Inspire-letter, I want you to go look at yourself in the mirror and do something other than pick yourself apart. In fact, I want you to look deeply in your eyes and regard that person in the mirror with the same compassion and acceptance you would give a beloved friend or family member who needed your love. Then, I want you to begin telling yourself some of the things you’ve been longing to hear from others in your life. It may feel really awkward and artificial at first, but try and pull every word you say from your heart and gut. You could start with easier stuff like: “You know…you actually have a really nice smile” or “Hey Buddy – I’m proud of you for trying something new…that takes a lot of guts”. As you get more comfortable, you could try things like: “I saw how kind you were to that person today…I really love you for that” or “I know you’re really hurting, Sweetheart…just breathe out and relax. I’ll never leave you.” I recommend trying a minute a day of mirror work for a week. Try not to think of Stuart Smalley. ; )
3. Self-Haters be Gone! – Make a list of all the things you’re constantly assaulting yourself over – ie. my nose is ugly, I’m always so poor, I’m not a good dad/daughter/husband/etc, I don’t have enough muscle, I haven’t changed the world, I’m too uptight, I can’t hang onto a mate, I’m a terrible speller. Look at the paper and consider all the crap you endlessly throw at yourself…you wouldn’t talk to your worst enemy like that!! I’ll also bet that a lot of the things on this list are just plain not true or are a result of situations beyond your control. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to grow beyond these limits, but nobody can grow when they’re constantly being beat up. Start protecting yourself from this hateful behaviour… With great gusto, destroy that piece of paper (rip it up, burn it, stomp it) with the same ferocity as if somebody had written this nasty list about your own child. Tell yourself there’s no room for this kind of hate here!
4. Love Song for One – I spent the first part of my life listening to love songs envisioning my future soulmate singing them to me or me singing them to him. Now some of the favourite love songs on my playlist are ones I regard as an ode to myself. When I hear Erasure’s “A Little Respect” and the line “Soul, I hear you calling. Oh baby please give a little respect to me.” I imagine my precious little soul pleading to me to be kinder to it. So, reclaim a romantic song for your relationship with yourself – anything from Pete Townsend’s “Let My Love Open the Door” to Beyonce’s “Halo” to The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love with You” – and get ready to swoon.
5. “Why I’m So Damn Lovable” List – On a nice big clean sheet of paper, start making a list of all the things – big or small, grand or quirky – that are unique and awesome about you. Things like: “I ran my own company at 25”, “I look good in hats”, “I helped nurse that pigeon back to health”, “I can hold my breath for a minute and a half”, “I went to a foreign country with no money and no plan”. Try to come up with 100… Oh come on, you can do it! Have that list handy to pull out and read whenever you start losing sight of why exactly you’re so damn lovable.
In case you haven’t guessed it by now…YOU are the soulmate you’ve been waiting for. Don’t make your precious self wait any longer.
Happy Valentines Day, Dear Ones!
A strange passion is moving in my head.
My heart has become a bird
Which searches the sky.
Every part of me goes in different directions.
Is it really so
That the one I love is everywhere?
Kimberly Carroll is a Body/Mind/Spirit Expert, television host/producer, & activist whose popular personal development bootcamps have been helping transform and ignite lives around the world. With a cheeky and down-to-earth approach, Kimberly is an entertaining and loving guide for people delving into the world of personal growth, spirituality, and conscious living. She’s been featured in the Globe and Mail, as a regular on Newstalk 1010’s “The Buddha Lounge”, and is one of the authors of the award-winning anthology “Soul Whispers”. Her new Life Reboot Program (7 weeks to tune in, power up, & create the life and world you love!) begins Feb. 25 in-person in Toronto or as an online/tele-program. For more information on Kimberly, visit: www.kimberlycarroll.com
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