Love yourself when you’re tired. Love yourself when you’re weak. Love yourself when you’re confused. Love yourself when you’re broken. Love yourself until you’re restored.
We all go through phases like this. Moments of uncertainty and doubt rain down upon us like the heaviest of thunder showers. When they do, life feels insurmountable and desperate. We hunker down and hope for the best and try our absolute hardest to understand that this is most likely a phase that will pass.
Beyond taking refuge and leveraging our internal optimism to carry the moment, there are other options at our disposal. One of the most valuable of those options is perhaps the simplest of them all… and that is to love oneself during the experience.
It sounds so esoteric as to be almost valueless when it is read as words on a page. Whereas in practice, it is one of the most valuable of all of the remedies at your disposal.
Loving oneself takes numerous forms depending upon whom we are speaking about. There is probably as many expressions of this as there are people, so it is clearly not a “one size fits all” remedy.
I believe that loving oneself starts as a basic concept that orchestrates a series of thoughts and behaviors that are personalized remedies for the turmoil, doubt and fear that we are experiencing. As a first starting stone from which to leap, loving oneself must start with forgiveness.
In fictional circumstances, the protagonist is always going through a series of challenges in order that they might prevail. Those challenges come with regular setbacks. In most cases, the audience is not aware of the mental process that the protagonist uses to regroup and accelerate beyond the current obstacle at hand. All that we really know is that they backed away long enough to get their head on straight and then they confronted the issue a second time and surpassed it. So during the period in which they backed away, what exactly is the process that facilitated their ability to conquer the problem at hand?
As children, one of our first lessons on this topic comes from “The Little Engine That Could”. In this children’s story, a little locomotive is trying to get up enough power to climb a mountain. This story teaches us that in that moment of necessity, the Little Engine starts to recite, “I think I can. I think I can!“ And sure enough, the hill is climbed. So undoubtedly, part of the recipe is positive thinking. But, in many cases, before the positive thinking can be applied, there is an earlier stage that must not be overlooked. That stage is self-love.
Do you love yourself?
What were several of the last things that you did to demonstrate and prove to yourself that you truly do love yourself? What acts of kindness have you extended on your own behalf that reassure your scared inner child that you’ve got their back?
Are you taking care of them in what you choose to put into your body? Are you ensuring that your body gets proper regular exercise so that it might last a long time? Do you take a moment in your busy schedule to take mental inventory of your thoughts and fears so that you might assuage them with reassurance is that carry weight? Do you believe in your innermost private thoughts that you are worthy of such self-love? Are you willing to sacrifice certain pleasures in your life in favor of making sure you are really taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually?
In those moments where there is only you and the mirror, you are faced with a blunt moment of honesty. Anything less than brutal honesty is not truly watching out for yourself in a way that you might.
I use the moment of looking oneself in the mirror with regularity because it is truly the only moment of core honesty. Anything less than core honesty in a moment like this is just wasting time. If you choose to delude yourself, you are only postponing the inevitable and that accomplishes nothing other than procrastination.
Some of us are prone to setting insanely high standards for ourselves. These are wonderful for ensuring that our aim is focusing on goals that are worthy of whom we truly believe that we are. That said, lofty goals and high ambition are equally dangerous when they are not readily achieved because our focus has seen only one possible outcome for the energy and effort that we are opting to expend. Anything less than that desired outcome feels like a failure. But perhaps that is not the case.
Like the protagonist in the fictional stories, our pathway to success is not usually a straight line, rather it is a series of connected moments and experiences which cumulatively deliver us to our desired endgame.
In order to love ourselves through these disjointed experiences, we must be willing to accept that it is not one defined path that will ultimately deliver, but rather, it is a mindset that recognizes that when things are becoming more difficult, we must look within to prevail.
Proper nutrition, exercise, spiritual awareness and an inner determination (just like “The Little Engine That Could” are the recipe. Even in the moments when none of these appear to be readily untapped, it is usually one of them that is the key to making others come to fruition. For example, if you are in a very low frame of mind, try going for a walk somewhere tranquil and rejuvenating. During this walk, you will most likely experience a cathartic change in your thinking. It might be minuscule at first, but it is clearly a starting point and that facilitates so many other parts of the equation. As a result of that healthy walk, you might be more inclined to put proper nutrition into your body upon your return. Because of that walk, some of the things you might have been thinking about may have taken a new perspective during your respite from whatever stress you have been going through. Wherever your first incidents of relief are coming from, you may very well discover that they open the doors to other choices and behaviors, each of which are part of loving yourself into that next stage.
Strong ambition is not an easy path in life, to the contrary, it is often times one of the most difficult. By definition, that is what ambition requires. In order to develop the proper arsenal of resources to realize your personal ambition, loving yourself is clearly the cornerstone to all of it. Make some time every day to do something incredibly kind for yourself and watch how you blossom in the process.
Your personal restoration is the key to the recognition of whatever ambitious goal you have set before yourself.