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BlossomWriter Core Value #2: We believe loving means showing up and serving, especially when it’s hard.
I sometimes lament to my husband about how I wish my dog knew how much I loved him. My husband always responds with, “He does. You feed him.”
And that couldn’t be more true. My dog has no concept of the word love, but he has a concept of the action love. He knows I crawl out of bed every morning at 5am to feed him breakfast when he paws at my bedroom door. He knows I take him for walks and trips to the dog park. He knows I snuggle with him on the couch and rub his belly and let him play with my socks.
He knows love because he has experienced love in action.
So how do you know love? Do you know love because your parents said “I love you,” or do you know it because when you were a kid they showed up to every one of your games no matter how busy or tired they were? Do you know your spouse loves you because they said “I do,” or because they do that chore for you that you absolutely hate doing? Do you know your best friend loves you because they call you their “bestie,” or because they called you to listen when you needed to vent?
If you’ve experienced love as an action, you know it’s not butterflies in your stomach or a warm sentiment. Those are feelings. They are fleeting and highly dependent upon how you and the other person are acting or what you are experiencing on any given day.
Love is independent.
Love asks you to go where butterflies and sentiments would never take you – to the hard places, to the places that require you to show up and serve.
I want to stress, not simply the idea that love is a verb, but the importance of loving especially when it’s hard. And I want to address self-love, specifically, because that may be the hardest love of all.
Unless you’re a narcissist, you’ve probably struggled with aspects of self-love (and if you are a narcissist, perhaps the “love” you’ve been giving yourself is not really love at all). You may have been taught either verbally or by example that others’ needs are more important than your own. You may have been taught that self-love is selfish. But I think self-love is where we must begin if there is any hope of us truly loving others.
We must experience love inside ourselves in order to extend love outside ourselves.
And it starts first with accepting and appreciating your body and mind. We have to start at a place of self-acceptance and appreciation in order to develop a sense of why we need and deserve self-love in the first place. Just as we take better care of our possessions when we truly appreciate them for what they are, so it is with our body and mind.
Acceptance begins with acknowledging that you are worthy simply because you exist as a human being on this planet. Beauty is relative. Intelligence is relative. You don’t start there. You start with the idea that your body and mind are what make you human and humanity is absolute.
Appreciation begins with acknowledging all your body and mind do to sustain you. Your body allows you to see and feel and hear and taste and breath, and your mind allows you to learn and grow and become your best, truest self. That is why self-love is so important.
Now, you may be solid in some areas of self-love, but be lacking in others. Or, you may be so unfamiliar with the concept, you don’t even know what self-love would look like in the first place. Either way, let me start by saying that the nitty-gritty details of self-love are going to look different for everyone.
How you show up for and serve yourself, and what aspects of that are hard, might be completely different for you than me. However, I do believe there are fundamental categories of self-love that are important for everyone. I’ve listed them here with some questions to help you process each one.
- Rest – Am I getting enough sleep? Am I taking enough time off from work? Am I saying “no” when I’m tired?
- Physical Activity – Am I getting enough physical activity daily? Am I moving my body and exercising in ways that I find enjoyable and beneficial for me personally?
- Nutrition – Am I eating the right amount of food for my body type and activity level? Am I eating wholesome foods that provide the essential nutrients my body needs? Am I drinking enough water daily?
- Mental Health – Am I engaging in life-long learning that interests me? Am I seeking professional help for any mental or emotional struggles I am currently facing? Am I practicing mindfulness?
- Leisure – Am I aware of what activities I truly enjoy? Am I actively involved in or pursuing my hobbies and interests? Am I getting enough “me time”?
For some of us, these categories and questions may be gut wrenching. They may drag up all kinds of feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy or longing. But the hard places – the places where love is lacking the most – are exactly the places love is needed the most. These are the places we need to go. These questions are our opportunities to show up for ourselves and serve our needs, especially when it’s hard. Because it’s hard. Because is it really love if it’s always easy?
What is harder for you: loving others or loving yourself? What is one thing you could do this week to show up and serve? Share your thoughts in the comments below.