The gift of self-love is the best gift you’ll receive this christmas. As people around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m catapulted back to my catechism class in Ireland. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,’ Jesus said. And I wonder – did people love themselves 2000 years ago?
It seems that in today’s society, we don’t have the time to love ourselves let alone our neighbour. We adore our children and want only the best for them. We love our partners, our family, our friends and even our cat. Some people love their jobs, others their car and perhaps some adore their 65 inch TV. So why do we find it so hard to love us individually?
I typed ‘self-love’ into Thesaurus.com and was surprised to find that the alternative word suggestions were negative. Conceited, arrogant, vain, pretentious, narcissistic and egotistic were only some of them, which begs the question: How can we openly love ourselves in a society that makes us feel like it’s wrong?
When was the last time you were kind to yourself or compassionate? Do you love yourself enough to put you first, to take care of your body, mind and spirit without feeling guilty for it? Many of us believe that if we have too much ‘me time,’ we’re being selfish, but what if we’re missing the point?
What if loving yourself is a wondrous opportunity to be deeply grateful for who you are. How would you feel if you looked in the mirror everyday and said, ‘I am enough.’ Many spiritual practices, teach that all love starts with self-love so ask yourself this. Can you unconditionally love yourself this christmas? Can you focus on the wonderful things about you instead of seeing only your flaws?
Taking time to be unavailable is often a good way to start. I’m meditating, I’m enjoying my morning tea, I’m going for a walk; I’m taking care of myself first and then I’ll take care of you. Without any explanation, these are perfectly acceptable statements. Yet somehow we have developed the habit of putting our own needs last.
Most parents will laugh at the suggestion of putting themselves first, especially if they have babies. Ironically, that’s when you need to most. When you love yourself, you have more to give, more energy and a brighter outlook on life. When you don’t, you feel resentful for being taken for granted or tired because you’re doing too much and you have less to give. It’s that simple.
If your job is stressful, ask for a 15 minute break and watch the expression on your boss’s face when you explain that you need some time in a quiet room to clear your mind. When they see how productive you are following it, it will be encouraged regularly. If you have small children, find some time to relax. When they finally take a nap, put your feet up and have a cup of tea, rather than tackling the mountain of ironing.
Carrie Bradshaw said, “don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first”. It’s time to focus on you. Speak to yourself with love and respect and support your hopes and dreams. Be mindful of how you treat your body and mind and stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
I am great, I am fantastic, I’m doing a good job, I’m beautiful and I’m enough. Make this the gift you give to yourself this year. Look under the tree and find the brightest and most beautifully wrapped gift of all. It’s called self-love and it’s yours.