A very wise unknown someone once said, "Why compare yourself to others? No one else in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you." And isn't that the truth! We are all born unique and with our own set of special talents. We hear lots of talk these days about loving ourselves more, but do we really know what what means...or how to gage whether or not we do love ourselves? I recently read a blog by Tiny Buddha that compared humans to cars. A car needs a full tank of gas to go the distance. When it runs out of gas, we have to pull it over to the side of the road and wait for someone to come along and help us. Or we can call Triple A for help. Triple A is available for roadside assistance 24/7. But if the car has a a full tank of gas, it goes along nicely for a very long time. Humans, and us frogs, are the same way. We need a full tank of love in order to go the distance and run effectively throughout our lifetime. Those who have a lot less love in their tank won't go as far, or be able to enjoy the ride...they'll be too concerned with having to pull over and watch others whiz by. It's kind of a silly metaphor but somehow, or other, it works. But how do we fill our love tank? Certainly not at the local Shell station. We fill it with love, of course!
Humans schools don't teach a course on the process of self love, which is kind of a pity. It something we learn as we go. It helps if we were loved by our parents or caregivers. That's a HUGE advantage. But even when they love us, the world around us can often make us feel unloved and unwanted. And those of us who many not have been raised in a loving and nurturing environment, can we still learn to love ourselves? You betcha! The first thing we all need to do is determine whether or not we believe that we are loveable. For most of us, we feel that only certain parts of us...the good, smart, funny, parts are lovable. The rest of us is not. A perfect example is when we feel lonely or sad. We often withdraw thinking that we're better of staying alone...that no one would love and understand THAT part of us. All they love is the bubbly, happy part of us. Right? Perhaps. But do YOU love that sad, loney part of you? If you don't, no one else will.
The first thing to do, before we can fill up our love tank, is to stop and consciously listen to the chatter in our mind. Everbody's is different, in large part because we've all lead very different lives and have grown up being told different stories about the world. Go beyond that chatter, and listen closely. Find out what your stories are telling you that are keeping you from loving yourself completely. Once you know what those stories are, it makes it easier to debunk their myths. After we've done that little bit of homework...actually it's a pretty major assignment, but entirely necessary to ace the final exam and live a loving and rewarding life. Now we are ready to "fill up" on love.
1. Know that it's OK to feel bad sometimes. No one feels on top of the wolrd all the time. 2. Try not to judge your thoughts and feeling too harshly. Be kind to yourself whenever possible. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. 3. When you are having a bad day, try to give yourself a little extra comfort and soothing. Remember when you were little and fell down and skinned your knee? Mom kissed your boo-boo and made it all better. As an adult, you can do that for yourself. 4. Listen to, and respect, your inner experience. 5. Know that whatever negativity/pain/sorrow that may be going on today, won't last forever. "This too shall pass" is a favorite motto of mine. 6. Remind yourself, often as needed, of all the wonderful things that you are. 7. Be grateful for all the little...and big things...in your life. When you add them all up, it's a pretty long list! 8. Take action on the the things that have a negative impact on your life. Nothing much is going to change without a little elbow grease...know what I mean? 9. Commit to improving your health. When you treat your body with the love and respect it deserves, it works better and when it works better, everything else seems a little less daunting. Eat better and get more excercise. 10. Invest in your psychological/emotional/spiritual wellbeing. Doing the things you love, helping others with their burdens, and focusing on more than simply the physical aspects of life (nourishing our inner swellbeing) all contribute to deepening our self-love and self-worth.
Dharma likes to call these 10 steps, Triple A. Because just like the auto club, they're always available to you whenever your love tank runs low. But don't wait until you have to pull over. If you work on these ten steps every day, you'll always enough love to see through the longest, darkest, and scariest sections of life's highways.