Last week, I talked about self-love as the greatest love of all. After I wrote it, someone emailed me and said self-love is harder then I thought or made it sound. This person said they tried waking up in the morning committed to loving themselves that day, but before they got too far away from the bed, if that far, the self-judgment began to kick in. It is important to remember that self-love is something that grows stronger over time. I love myself for who I am right now. When I look back over the last year or even six months, I can see how my self-love is stronger today then it was six months ago, or a year ago. I am also mindful that a year from now my self-love will be stronger then it is at this very point in time. Self-love is something we must practice every day until we master it in the same ways we have mastered self-rejection and self-judgment.
So where do we start? One place to begin is with making the conscious decision to respect ourselves for who we are at this very point in time. No matter where we are in our journeys, we are perfect just as we are. Right now, I am the best me I can be. Tomorrow I will not be the same as I am today, but I will still be the best me I can be at that time. Wherever I am at in my journey, I have made an agreement with myself that I will respect myself for who and what I am. I have agreed not to say anything derogatory about others or myself. When I do that then I disrespect myself. In the beginning, it was not always easy. There were times when I would catch myself judging myself. Then I would stop, think about why I was agreeing to this behavior in myself and moved forward. Over time, the times between episodes of self-judgment and self-rejection became farther and farther apart.
This is not to say that I do not still have my moments. I do, however, there are further and further apart and generally reminders of former beliefs and agreements I need to reexamine and change. For example, several months ago, probably like several other people I know, I committed to exercising three times a week. For me, this is in some respects easier as the one piece of exercise equipment I can use is on the floor right next to my desk. For the first few weeks, I did a great job and had progressed from 3 minutes every other day to 15 minutes every other day. I was so proud of myself and then one I didn’t feel well and the cycle stopped. A few weeks later, I was looking at my minibike sitting on the floor and came up with a whole list of excuses as to why I had not taken a few minutes each day to exercise my legs and arms. I was aware they were just excuses and then I started judging myself for not exercising. Once again, I had to stop and be honest with myself about why I had stopped exercising. Self-honesty is not always easy. However, we can only evolve when we move forward with honesty and integrity. The next day, I started cycling again and was frustrated that after about 5 minutes, my legs were burning and I had to stop again. It was so easy to fall back into that self-judgment mode and say well if only you had not stopped, then you would have been past the 15-minute mark. Breaking that cycle is not easy, but it is important and it is something that happens over time.
The two things that I noticed that have helped others and me in this journey are awareness and intent. We have to be aware of when we are self-rejecting, self-judging, or not respecting ourselves. We must also be intentional about practicing self-love in their lives and be aware of one’s actions, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Practicing self-respect over time ends self-judgment. As self-judgment ends so does the self-rejection in one’s life. With self-respect, self-love grows stronger. Self-love is not something one masters over night. It is something we practice on a daily basis and it grows stronger over time. One thing I do know is that if we do not practice self-love, nobody else will.