”Love your neighbor as yourself,” is one of the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:31). It is often quoted when someone is making a point of the importance of loving others. But the most important element of that command is, “as yourself.” If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you won’t be very good at loving any one else. After all, you cannot give what you do not have. Let this week’s message serve as inspiration to fill up your love tank.
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I invite you to consider how well you are doing at loving – both yourself and others. Those who love others without loving themselves often attract people and situations that are disrespectful, less than they deserve and disappointing on many levels. You teach others how to treat you by how you treat yourself. This isn’t simply about self-esteem. Do you take care of yourself (eating healthy, exercising, staying away from toxic people)? Do you consistently make time for yourself to meditate and pray? Do you give yourself a break when you need one? All of these things are acts of self-love.
1. Let go of energy-draining situations and friendships.
One of the most loving things you can do in your life is to fill it with loving, peaceful relationships and situations. What’s draining your energy? What loving action can you take to eliminate your energy drain?
2. Give yourself permission to pursue your passion.
Another loving action you can take is to give yourself permission to follow your dreams. When you love someone, you want them to have joy in their lives. Give yourself permission to experience all the joy that is available to you – whether it is a hobby, career, place you want to live or a talent you want to develop.
3. Know what nourishes your spirit and make sure you get plenty.
Rest, pampering, time alone, prayer, worship, a good book. What nourishes your spirit and pampers you? Schedule it regularly on your calendar.
4. Don’t settle for less than God’s best for you.
We often “settle” out of fear that we won’t be able to do any better. Refuse to settle. Instead, be willing to do what it takes to bring your vision for your life to fruition – even if it means it will take longer than you originally planned. In the long run, settling takes more time, frustration or both as you deal with the disappointment.
5. Acknowledge yourself for a job well done.
Most people love to be acknowledged for their efforts. Unfortunately, too many rarely acknowledge themselves. You give them a compliment, and they minimize it or won’t receive it with a simple ‘thank you.’
6. Talk back to your negative inner critic.
Love makes no record of wrongs. In other words, stop adding up everything you’ve done “wrong” and start focusing on what you’ve done right and what your next steps are. When that negative inner critic starts reminding you of the negative, counter it with the truth: You are getting better and better every day.
7. Be patient and kind.
Perhaps you are trying to change in a particular area of your life. Or you haven’t achieved something you thought you would have. Can you be patient with yourself as you change and grow? Will you be kind with yourself as you persevere?
8. Let others love you.
Do you have a habit of blocking others from loving you? You put up a wall that shuts them out or make excuses that keep others at bay. Practice letting the people who care about you love you. Learn to receive love and express gratitude. Love flows – and that means it is a back-and-forth exchange. You can’t do all the giving and you can’t do all the taking. Both people must experience what it feels like to give and what it feels like to receive.
9. Love someone else.
One of the fastest ways to put your life into perspective is to be a blessing every where you go. Do people have more energy when they are around you – or less? Is there life better because they crossed your path? When you love yourself in a healthy way, being a vessel of love every day brings you absolute joy. Even a simple smile can do wonders to bless someone else and lift your spirits.
My challenge to you this week:
Do something loving for yourself. Practice a random act of kindness and love towards someone else.
What makes you feel loved? How could you incorporate that into your life on a consistent basis? What makes the people closest to you feel loved? How can you ensure that you are sharing that love with them consistently? Leave your comments, I’d love to hear from you!