The most challenging love to practice daily, in my opinion, is self love.
Caregivers of any genre are particularly susceptible to forget about themselves. Loving ourselves is an essential factor in our ability to be fully present and loving with those we serve, and yet, self love is often an illusive fragment of our lives.
Self love requires the full hearted adoption of a model that requires caring for oneself first.…a prototype most women (and more than a few men) born in the 20th century had chiseled out of them. In those decades there was no invitation to converse about the relative merits of self care vs selfishness. Any attention to self was selfishness and that was sinful. Our mothers, fathers, teachers, religious leaders and mentors taught us well…do not pay attention to yourself! All others come first, always.
Consequently, many of we boomers and others born in the mid to near end of the 20th century, struggle to find balance in taking care of ourselves while also caring for others. In my case, self care is a daily plan I intend to adopt and then execute with marked imperfection! It takes attention and focus to remember to care for oneself when it has been riddled out of you during the early formative years of childhood and adolescence.
Deliberate and personal spiritual practices to examine the core of self are essential to breaking the habituation of ignoring personal needs and desires. And, of course, therapeutic interventions may be helpful, particularly if they incorporate a spiritual perspective focused on the adoption of deep love of self. I talk to myself about this a lot. I invite you to explore for yourself how you might break the habit of ignoring the love you deserve to shower onto yourself! Make that puzzle, read that book, take that bubble bath, go for that walk, stop and smell the roses, rest, and renew. Make it a habit!
So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything!