In February, we tend to focus on the theme of love. We conjure up romantic ideas of a perfect relationship. What if the perfect relationship is not one we have with somebody else, but rather is the one we have with ourselves?
How many of us have ever been told to “Love Yourself”? It seems to go against everything we are taught about loving and helping others. We are told that if we take care of ourselves first, we are being “selfish”. What if this is not true? What if the truth is that the most important thing you can do is to love and take care of yourself first? If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we have nothing left to give others! I like to remind people who have a faith background that even Jesus taught “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This means you must love yourself first, then you can love your neighbor! If you have ever flown on an airplane, the flight attendants teach the passengers to put the oxygen on themselves first, then help others (including children). How often are we told that we need to put others, especially our children, first? How can we help them if we don’t give ourselves oxygen first?
We need to give ourselves permission to love ourselves, regardless of what others tell us. The most important and longest relationship is the one you have with yourself. It is vital to learn how to treat yourself with love, kindness, dignity and respect. You can’t be ready for a healthy relationship with another person until you create a healthy relationship with yourself.
So how do you create a healthy relationship with yourself? Just as you spend time getting to know another person, you need to spend time getting to know yourself. You need to schedule dates with yourself – time you set aside as sacred and don’t give up for something else. You can use this time to do an activity that you love to do but don’t normally take the time out of your busy schedule to do. Some of us have spent so much time doing things for others that it can be difficult to come up with an idea of something to do with yourself so here a few ideas to get you thinking: take a bath with your favorite Epsom salts and candles, read a book just for fun, go to an art museum or art show, window shop for art or craft supplies (and if you have a hobby or project you haven’t done for a while, give yourself permission to buy an item to get you back to that project or hobby), go for a walk in a park or around your neighborhood, or keep a journal where you ask yourself questions and answer them honestly to get to know more about yourself.
Next, stop being mean to yourself! This means to stop the negative self-talk, the self-criticism, beating yourself up in your head for your mistakes, for not being perfect, etc. Treat yourself like you would your best friend – with kindness, understanding, love and respect. Treat yourself the way you would like others to treat you. When you treat yourself with dignity and respect, you attract relationships with others who treat you with the same dignity and respect.
Finally, listen to yourself. Pay attention to how you feel and respect it. Don’t force yourself to do things you don’t really want to do. Ask yourself how you would feel in whatever situation you are trying to sort out, then listen to your body giving you the messages about how you really feel. For example, if you feel sick in the pit of your stomach when you imagine yourself going to that event with those people, respect those feelings and give yourself permission to do something else that you really enjoy.
In this month of love, take the time to love yourself. You will be glad you did.
This article was posted in the Coach's Corner of the ASTD Newsletter for February 2015. You can reach Kolleen through this website, Linked In, Facebook or by calling her at (402) 499-5547. Check the website or call for more information.