During this season of romance, often the hardest person to appreciate is the person looking back at us in the mirror. And yet, without a loving relationship with self, none of our other relationships can really work, either. You can't give what you don't have.
For many of us, this means diving into our favorite ways of self-care – taking a nap, going to the gym, sleeping in, getting a massage. Self-care is a wonderful tool. It is similar to the routine maintenance you need to do on your car, or the weeding you have to do in a garden. We all need periodic tune-ups to stay healthy. Self-care is about creating a regular routine of check-ups and maintenance so we can stay running smoothly.
But self-care isn't the same as self-love. It's easy to confuse the two, particularly in our overly competitive, hyperactive, appearance-conscious society. We're bombarded with so many messages about the "right" way to eat, dress, exercise, and even meditate that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that self-care and self-love are distinctly different.
Self-love takes us into a deeper place than self-care. Self-love invites us to self-acceptance. Self-love invites us not to judge the self-care we need.
Self-love centers on accepting both our lovable and unlovable parts. It is intimacy with our truths, gentleness with our faults, honesty for our yearnings, and appreciation for what makes us each special.
Self-care is about fixing what is out of alignment in our lives. Self-love, however, is the deep knowing that at our core, there's nothing that needs fixing.
What would it be like to step into the place of knowing that we are each full and complete, right now? What if we could live with that deep and tender wisdom everyday?
Take some space this Valentine's Day to ask yourself:
- Who am I as my fullest, most whole self?
- How can I better love myself, not only despite my choices and mistakes but because of them?
- How can I show up for myself with love the way I show up for others?
- What tenderness and care can I extend to myself today?
Most of all, take time to tell yourself: "Right here, right now, I know I'm whole."
Self-love invites us to the deepest truth of all – that love doesn't find us as a result of the right relationship, the right looks, the right connections, or the right career. Love is not a destination we arrive to at the end of the path. Love is the path.
Happy Valentine's Day.
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