One of the best things we can do for those we love is to care enough about ourselves, so we can be there for them when they need us. We each know how to show affection to another person by telling them we love them, or by doing something that will please them. Yet, another way to care for those we love is to keep ourselves healthy, vibrant and present in their lives. We offer those we love the biggest gift when we are reliable, calm and able to be responsive to them because we have the energy to give to them.
When we are in a healthy space, mentally refreshed and physically strong, we are capable to do all that may be requested of us by those we love. We are able to be smart, funny, thoughtful, energetic, and endearing when we are feeling good about ourselves inside and out. In order to be in a good space, we must take care of ourselves, tending to our inner needs and outer demands by eating healthy foods, getting proper sleep and removing toxins from our minds by loving ourselves.
Those that we love may value us for many different reasons, but the one thing we all have in common is being needed or wanted for the attention and energy we give them. We give our love through the attention and awareness that we bestow on others. When we love someone, we show it by paying attention to them. Sometime this might be a challenge due to time schedules or limitations, or the burdens of responsibility we carry. Still, we can make time for those we wish too, even if its only a quick moment of recognition.
Feeling burnt-out, overburdened or stressed-out can make us unavailable to ourselves and those we love. We start to enter coping mechanism, adopting habits to lessen the strain we feel without noticing it's only making matters harder to deal with for everyone. It’s important to take notice of ourselves before we begin to check-out, by developing habits that support our health. Once we have an understanding of what our limits are, it becomes easier to keep a regular routine to keep our balance.
Those that we care about need to see us taking care of ourselves, just as much as seeing us taking care of them, because it helps to teach them the values we want them to carry. Self-care is a form of self-love and it is priceless. It is not about being the most important person, in an egoic sort of way, but allowing ourselves to see our own value in terms of our role as an interactive partner with others. When we tend to ourselves and stay healthy, we are able to give the gift of our healthy selves to others.
An individual’s health impacts everyone in their family and to a larger degree their friends and community. When we are each taking care of our health, we all become stronger as a group. Health is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves, as it allows us to fully participate in life. Health reminds us that there is so much to be grateful for every moment of our lives that we can use all our faculties without pain or limitations. Health is a blessing!
Some may think that health is our physical body, our strength, our ability to use our limbs or our resilience from getting sick, yet true health goes beyond our physicality, encompassing all our thoughts, emotions, concerns and dreams. We might look healthy outwardly and be very unbalanced within, carrying burdens and ill thoughts that steal our precious life-force as easily as being struck by a cold.
We each handle stress differently, coping differently, but our path to health is shared because we all respond to self-love the same way, we flourish. Our symptoms might not be similar, but our treatment is the same, love, pure and simple love. We can show ourselves love in a variety of ways, each a powerful medicine to soothe the aches hidden within, enabling us to grow stronger and more resilient. This kind of self-love doesn’t really require a big time commitment, rather it’s a state of awareness that is cultivated and sustained with our consistent remembering of our own value.
For some coming to terms with their value is the challenge, having been told otherwise and perhaps adopting a not-so-honoring view of themselves, or maybe having done something they’re still unable to reconcile, leaving the monster within to continually suffer. We must admit to ourselves what we believe about ourselves before we can remedy those beliefs. We must all allow self-forgiveness as a pathway to self-love.
We each have made mistakes along our journey, it’s not about the mistakes we've made, making mistakes is often a necessity to our learning. The real issue is whether we have reconciled our behavior with an acknowledgment to learn from our mistakes, only then do we evolve, becoming better people worthy of our own self-love. Others may forgive us, but if we carry those burdens, beating ourselves up, or not acknowledging our wrongs, we simple do not grow and remain trapped in our own inner prisons.
We often look to others to give us what we must first grant ourselves, love is one of those precious things. We can be loved by another, but never really feel it or be able to accept it, especially, if we are not feeling worthy of it when we do not love ourselves. Love is something that is exchanged rather than given, being a force of energy that responds of its own accord. We speak of it as if it’s a commodity, but really it’s a magical force that has its own rules that no one controls. Love travels through us and around us and lifts us when we allow it too. It can never be demanded, not even when we wish to love ourselves. Love must be invited, tended and given an opportunity to take root and grow, for it to become fruitful and magnificent.
True, love can arrive in unexpected ways, taking us by surprise, being completely untamed and unapologetic, it is after all free onto itself, which is why it is so important to cultivate it with a respect and reverence. Love is a magical force that can live within us, be shared with others as we tend to it ourselves. Finding it is a matter of becoming a devotee of it, of love itself rather than any of its associations or crass demonstrations.
To find love within ourselves, to be able to give love to ourselves, we must invite it as a health practice. Health is base on being able to maintain balance and a sense of wholeness, when we see our inner world flourishes with love flowing through it, we can recognize love’s ability to keep us healthy. We can utilize the healing benefits of love to soothe inner painful thoughts or stressful situations by allowing the resilience of self-love to buffer the impact of those experiences. As we love ourselves, we become loving with others and that too builds a healthier community.
With this idea of tending to ourselves to gain and maintain greater health as a form of self-love, here’s a short list to incorporate love into our lives to make sure we’re not being worn down. These are simple things to do, but of course they require our participation, because again, we must be the ones who chose to do this for ourselves, to invite love into ourselves.
Forgive - By practicing forgiveness we allow the burdens within us to lift, granting us space to allow love to enter. Whether it is ourselves or others, we gain freedom when we acknowledge that what has happened is over, taking steps towards reparations, understanding we are willing to move forward.
Appreciate – By appreciating we allow recognition for the good that is present in our lives and within ourselves that opens the heart for love to enter. Whether it is something we do that makes our own lives easier, or something that we can find beauty in, or something someone reminds us to enjoy, being appreciative makes love grow.
Celebrate – By taking a celebratory attitude we grant ourselves the power to be happy in the moment which triggers our senses to see what we love already. Whether we are celebrating a ten-minute break, or a long afternoon or a beautiful view, we open ourselves to celebrate life and that invites love to enter our spirits.
Nurture – By tending to what we honor with care and value, we open ourselves to the deeper experience of love. Whether we are tending to our own immediate needs of brushing our teeth or eating a meal, listening to a friend, or helping a neighbor, we are genuinely opening ourselves to love’s arrival through our nurturing acts of kindness.
Acknowledge – By acknowledging ourselves, really listening and observing how we feel and what we are experiencing, we can allow ourselves to be present with ourselves, offering an inner level of support that is love. Whether we are paying attention to what we’ve eaten during the day, or how much sleep we’ve gotten, or whether we feel achy or in need of something, we are opening ourselves up to be loved, just by pay attention to ourselves and taking action.
Self-love is a choice, through our acknowledged effort to cultivate love for ourselves, we gain access to the love that's ever presence within us. The practice of cultivating a loving awareness grants us not only a sweet resolve to handle our challenges, but also affords us an unlimited grace from which to serve others. It is a wonderful practice, which can keep both the body and the mind free and clear of unnecessary burdens that can accumulate stress and disharmony. With a committed effort to cultivate an inner state of love, we can bridge the chasm of discontentment and injustice within humanity, bringing us all closer to a health.