Oh Tina…..you weren’t listening were you? What’s love got to do with it you asked your listeners over and over again. If only you were listening yourself. The answer would have been EVERYTHING.
Love is the the most sung about, written about, read, studied, promoted, preached about and said word-ever. But it’s more than a word. It’s more than a feeling. It’s something that you do. Something you live. Something yo believe. Something you are.
If anyone ever goes to the library and looks at the books I have on reserve, it would be safe to assume I have a very difficult life and/or should be institutionalized. The books I reserve are often for pleasure reading but also for counseling research. Anything from bettering oneself, saving marriages, improving parenting, handling stress, overcoming adversity, etc. They’re all there. Mixed in with an occasional mystery novel. I have reassured my family often that “No- this isn’t for me. I’m ok. We’re ok. It’s for work.” But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I take away valuable pieces of information from each book I read. Often those valuable nuggets transfer into counseling sessions but also are applied in my own life.
This week I read a chapter that really has stuck with me. The chapter so appropriated titled “Love the one you is” couldn’t be more spot on for what everyone needs to hear- and more importantly- apply to life. I won’t do the writer, Jen Sincero, full justice in my summary, but hope to share this important message.
1. Appreciate how special you are.
You are one of a kind. An original. I don’t care if you’re one of three identical triplets. You are unique and special. Appreciating that you are a true original is critical in this journey we call life. No one will ever do it just as you do. Enjoy that uniqueness.
2. Drown yourself in affirmations.
This is likely the opposite of what we do all day. It’s much easier and quicker to judge ourselves and let that negative loop play in our head but that’s not what any of us need. We need to hear how awesome we are. And to believe those positive messages. So write them down. Use post-its and plaster the mirror, inside of the car visor, planner, desk and kitchen cabinets to remind yourself of your greatness. And don’t stop. We need to hear them. If Rodney Dangerfield can do it, so can we. (https://youtu.be/eqm_DF4r-Hc)
3. Do things you love.
I’ve said it before. I talk about it weekly in session with clients. I try to promote it myself. But really- you have to do things you love. So often we deny ourselves these enjoyments because of excuses. I’m too busy. I don’t have time. It costs too much. No one will go with me. It’s hard. Cut the excuse. Do it. We can’t keep truly love life if we punish ourselves to not enjoy it. Big or small- we need to do the things we love because after all, it’s taking care of ourselves. And if we don’t take care of ourselves we surely can’t take care of anyone else (which is half ot the excuse for not doing the thing you love anyway).
4. Find a replacement.
For those who are parents reading this, you can relate very easily. It’s not what we say but how we say it. How often have we told our children that? Well guess what- we’re no different. We have to speak to ourselves better and in nicer tones. Instead of “man, you’re a hot mess today” think “well, what can I learn from over scheduling?” Instead of mentally listing all the things wrong with your body when you look in the mirror, tell yourself daily “Gosh you look amazing!” We need to hear those positive messages.
5. Ditch the self-deprecating humor.
Similar to instruction #4- we can’t love ourselves if we constantly are laughing at ourselves. Don’t get me wrong – the ability to laugh at our mistakes and have humor in life is critical. But we can’t use ourselves as the punchline all the time. Those jokes become your true beliefs after awhile and is hard to break.
6. Let the love in.
Take care of yourself. Appreciate yourself. Exercise. Eat the right foods. Allow yourself to be complimented (without making an excuse. Just say “thank you!”) If we don’t take care of ourselves or put our needs last – I promise we can’t be fully happy or productive. And believe me, the library shelves are full of books telling us how to be happy and productive- so do yourself a favor and get a jumpstart by just taking care of you.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is my favorite yet in this love list. Comparison is the fastest way to take the fun out of life. If we are so busy enjoying our live sand loving our journey, we don’t have time to look over the fence to see what our neighbor is doing. And it shouldn’t matter. If we are the best us we can be, and love ourselves, then it shouldn’t matter. If everyone was so busy loving their life and enjoying it- we could celebrate with one another instead of comparing!
8. Forgive yourself.
We screw up. Sometimes a lot. And frequently, Guess what- we’re human. That’s part of the deal. Let it go. Try again tomorrow to get it better. As Sincero wrote, “You aren’t a better person for feeling guilty or bad about yourself, just a sadder one.” Amen! Sometimes we owe an apology to ourselves (or to others.) Do that. And then move on. Living in the past limits us from moving forward.
9. Love yourself.
As if steps 1-8 didn’t get the point across- these two words should. LOVE YOURSELF. Because if we don’t love ourselves, it’s pretty unrealistic to expect others to see how awesome we are and love us too.
Wishing you love. Always!