Finding self-love can be a journey filled with pit falls, craggy mountains, and endlessly winding roads. Hopefully along the way you’ll find sunlit meadows and cooling waters, refreshment and peace.

If you’re struggling to love yourself like you know you should, or worse, wondering why you should love yourself at all, join me on my own personal journey to find self-love and acceptance. I am not at the top of the mountain yet, but with God’s grace I will reach that pinnacle eventually.

This blog is all about self-care. Sure I sell Avon here; that’s my business and I truly believe that my products can help you take care of yourself. But what I’m mostly about is the kind of self-care that helps alleviate depression, takes away stress, and helps you to feel loved.

Perhaps you are thinking you don’t deserve love, that you are unlovable. Maybe you wonder what loving yourself even means. I know I wondered that same thing. Sometimes I still do. See, I have flaws. I’m overweight, I get grumpy with my kids, I struggle with depression, I am a lousy housekeeper. I’m nowhere near perfect.

But here’s the secret that I’ve begun to unlock—I am a beautiful person, inside and out. I may be 44 and beyond pudgy, but I’m attractive and loved. I am loved by my husband, by my parents, by my kids, and by my God. Even if no one else loved me, my God always will. I am his princess, his joy, his flawless jewel.

I don’t mean to advocate for any one religion. I’m not here to convert you. I take comfort in the Christian faith (I’m a liberal Evangelical Lutheran if you’re curious). But if you feel loved by the God of Mohammad, Abraham, or even the Universe, find your peace there—in faith. I can’t imagine walking this road without faith.

And that’s not to say that atheists can’t find self-love. From what I understand, their higher power is mankind itself. Take heart and know that you CAN have faith in mankind. You can find love and acceptance there.

So what does self-love even mean? For years I struggled with this question. Therapists, priests and pastors, even society at large told me I needed to love myself or I wouldn’t be able to fully love those around me. Bull, I said! I love my family fiercely and nothing can take that away. I don’t have to love myself to love others!

But then I made it my 2017 New Year’s resolution to learn how to love myself. I got to work with the help of my wonderful therapist, Christina. I asked her point blank why I had to love myself in order to love my family. She said it all has to do with intimacy. Not the sexual kind of course, but the deeper, more spiritual work of loving those around you. She was right! I did not have a very intimate relationship with my children, husband, or those around me. As I have grown in love towards myself, I am finding I have a new attitude about having a relationship with a person’s SOUL.

I know, I still haven’t answered the question. What does loving yourself even mean? I haven’t gotten there yet because it’s a very tough question for me. I am starting to learn though, that it means having an appreciation for yourself as you would a fine piece of art. You are complex, you are made of up many brush strokes. There are some darker colors in you and there is light, lots of light. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see the picture. See, no matter what your belief system is, I think we can all agree that we are essentially made up of stardust. Stars give light, right? YOU give light in so many ways—when you kiss your newborn for the first time, when you adopt a shelter pet, when you teach a classroom of children, when you tell your partner, “I love you” and really mean it, when you visit an elderly grandmother, when you send a birthday card. Whatever good it is that you do, you are showering the world with beams of heavenly light. Isn’t that worthy of love? I think it is. Loving yourself means respecting, even being in awe of, your own light.I love myself because I feed the homeless. I love myself because almost every Sunday, I teach second graders about God. I love myself because I homeschool my kids. I love myself because I am a tender wife. I love myself because I bring joy and pride to my parents. I love myself because God loves me unconditionally and with a fierceness my human brain will never be able to comprehend.

So here’s what I think you should do: start a journal and write in it every day. You can write negative stuff, but always always remember to write about why you love yourself and what you’re grateful for; find a sympathetic therapist to guide you on your journey. If sitting down in front of someone once a week is too daunting or time consuming, go to http://www.BetterHelp.com and get matched for the therapist who’s right for you. I find chat room conversation with my therapist feels much safer than sitting in a room with a stranger. But that is of course personal choice; and Lastly, make a list of all the great things about you. Don’t hold back. Don’t list the negatives. Just list everything positive about you. Once you get on a roll, I bet you can come up with dozens of reasons to love yourself.

One final note. The reason I chose this task as a New Year’s resolution is that I knew it might take several months or even a year to fully understand what it was I was setting out to do. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. The love will come. And when it does, there will be no stopping you.

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