I was watching the video The Secret, and a line in it grabbed my attention. The gentleman on the screen was saying, "...because you're going to get to love yourself, and as you love yourself, you'll love others." A-ha! There's a little key there - did you catch it? You have to love yourself first, and then you are able to come from that place and love others!
Part of an article by Valerie Monroe that I read this past week discussed this very issue:
Why is it hard for many of us to do things for ourselves before we do for others? Maybe we believe the "good" woman sacrifices herself for her family and, increasingly, for her work. "In terms of our relationships, women often feel they're responsible for everything - which is not a complete misperception," says nationally syndicated columnist and life coach Harriette Cole. "We are the ones who usually lead the way. But somehow we get from there to the idea that the world won't work unless we help it along."
Taking on responsibilities that might be well or even better handled by others is one of the ways we begin to lose our balance and slide down the slippery slope from generosity to martyrdom. Because women are likely to be the primary caretakers for husbands and children as well as aging parents, we have ample opportunity to fall into the pattern of serving the people we love before we serve ourselves. But there are good reasons to be judicious about that. "If you always put someone else first, there's a tendency for others to depreciate you, to lose respect, because respect comes from an understanding that that person has her own wishes, dreams, and desires," says Ethel S. Person, MD, author of Feeling Strong: The Achievement of Authentic Power.
Determining boundaries and standing firm in your expectation that they will be respected is key. Being available when needed is not the same thing as being on call 24/7. Moving from being supportive to being a crutch is not helpful on either side. Resentments can build and fray nerves and relationships. Conversely, avoiding this by taking care of ourselves first is beneficial to both parties, as mutual respect and loving attitudes are maintained.
Going back to The Secret: "...so you become the solution for you. Take time for yourself. In a sense, to fill yourself up to fullness and then you can come from there, and give it out."
Treating ourselves as kindly and generously and lovingly as we would hope to treat those we love is the best way to ensure that we are able to do exactly that. If we look at those that we admire as loving and kind (Mother Theresa comes to mind), it is evident that they are quite comfortable in their own skin and serene within themselves. It is possible for us to emulate them.
Getting to know yourself and to accept yourself wholeheartedly - warts and all - is, in my mind, how we begin to move into this loving space. We make allowances for the quirks and foibles of others - we need to do the same for ourselves. Carving out a space just for us - to be still, as we've already discussed, to do those things that renew us and recharge our batteries, to truly come to love ourselves - these things are crucial to enhancing our ability to truly love others.
Stamps: Inkadinkado/Kathy Davis Expressions; Ink: Stampin'Up! Kiwi Kiss and Rose Red; Paper: Stampin'Up! Raspberry Tart dp, Kiwi Kiss; Accessories/Tools: Nestabilities Labels Eight, K & Company Smitten chipboard hearts, Prima flowers (altered), redline tape, Studio G glitter, unknown bling
The card I made reinforces the concept that all things do, indeed, grow with love - our self-esteem, our relationships, our happiness, etc. Here's to a week of finding ways to be kind to ourselves and grow in love - for ourselves and others!