On Being in Love With Yourself

Heart shaped leaves I found while wandering around nature.

Heart shaped leaves I found while wandering around nature.

Love. It’s on a lot of people’s minds lately. We can blame Valentine’s Day for that.

Vday with all its controversy caters mostly to romantic (or eros) love (Although some of my absolute favorite Vdays were when I was single.).  Now there’s nothing wrong with romantic love. I’m into that as much as the next romantic, but that’s only one kind of love and there are all kinds out there. Why limit ourselves?! Psychology Today does a pretty good job of defining them for anyone who’s looking for a little more reading on love.

I really want to focus on self-love (or philautia) because in order for us to be able to fully experience all of the other kinds of love, we have to love ourselves. “You must love yourself before you can love another” isn’t just another cheesy cliche; it’s truth. We’re so much more interconnected than we’d like to believe and we see ourselves reflected in others. If we love ourselves, we see love. If we don’t, well, then there’s usually a lot of unhealthy drama in your relationships.

Self-love was on my mind today as I struggled to send out a bill to a client. I just couldn’t make it happen. For so long. I have no idea why it was a struggle. I have a freaking template. I’ve done this more than enough times before. I had the information I needed. Things just weren’t going smoothly. Text boxes weren’t aligning. Information was accidentally deleted and couldn’t be recovered. The recovering perfectionist in me was screaming!

I won’t even say exactly how long it took me because, one, I’m not exactly sure, and two, it was an embarrassingly long time. I grew frustrated. I got lost in my head. “I’ve done this so many times.” “This isn’t even difficult.” “This shouldn’t take me this long.” “This is the stuff I hate about my job.” “Maybe I’m not cut out to run a business.” Oh, I spiraled. Over such a tiny, little form.

I know that this struggle was really just a reflection of my state of mind. I’d been dealing with two rambunctious dogs all morning, while also trying to meet with clients online. I normally only have one dog and as long as I run him in the morning, no one knows he exists for awhile. Two, however, put a whole new twist on working from home. There were also some tech issues.

So I was already feeling out of control and like a mild failure before attempting billing. Self-love? What self-love? It had gone on a hike.

At some point in my spiral, I caught myself and started laughing over the ridiculousness of my brain. Nothing “bad” happened today. I had become so caught up in such first world problems that I had to laugh at myself being human. I forget sometimes that I’m human. I imagine myself as a superhero. I don’t know exactly what my superpowers are, but I have them. And when things are more challenging than they should be as a superhero, I’m thrown for a loop. I want to control things that I have no control over. So I wind up disappointed and frustrated.

As soon as I caught myself temper tantruming in my head, I made my way back to self-love. All self-love is, is compassion, understanding, and acceptance of ourselves for exactly where we are and who we are in the moment. I know I legitimately have nothing to complain about, but if I were to judge myself for that I’d remain caught in that dark spiral. How’d I do this?

I validated myself.

I acknowledged and accepted that I was struggling. No matter how silly the situation was, that was still true. But I also laughed at myself because it also wasn’t all that serious. And actually the bill situation was quite comical from an outside perspective.

I took care of my basic needs.

Aka, I made some food because I was also hangry.

I took a break.

While I made lunch, I listened to a bit of the audiobook “Present over Perfect.” This reminded me of how perfect life can be if we let it, since that was the exact thing I needed to hear in the moment and the most accessible audiobook I currently have.   

I gave myself a bit of a pep talk.

I reminded myself of the message of that book. Or at least what I imagine the message of the book to be since I haven’t even finished chapter one yet. I wasn’t being present. I wasn’t being mindful. And I was upset with myself for not being perfect. I really dislike paperwork so I often disengage from the present moment when I have to do it, which likely makes it more difficult than if I just focused on it and knocked it out.

I found gratitude.

When we’re not mindful, we can forget how good we actually have it. Things might not be perfect, but they’re often more amazing then we give them credit for. I’m supremely lucky that I get to spend time with two healthy, fun dogs. My clients found them hilarious. I get to work from home. I’m lucky I have technology that’s new and usually works just fine. I have a roof over my head. Food in the fridge. It’s sunny out. Plus, ultimately, I like adventures and it gave me something to write about. If everything always went smoothly, there’d be nothing interesting to share.

And that my friends is self-love. It’s this feeling of warmth toward yourself that nothing can shake. At least in the moment. Like most, I struggle with always being in love with myself, but the more I bring myself back to it, the more I find myself really digging myself.

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you have a special romantic someone or not, try giving yourself the ultimate Vday gift of self-love. Romance the heck out of yourself. Buy yourself some chocolates (Or I’m partial to the SweeTart hearts. Those chalk tasting ones are the worst.) or flowers. Take a warm bubble bath. Write yourself a love letter or make yourself a card. Get out in nature. Surround yourself with any loved ones you can. Skype if you have to. Meditate on love. Hold your own hand. Okay, I might be getting a little ridiculous... But overall if you treat yourself like you like yourself, you will.