Updated: Sep 4, 2019
One of the reasons so many of us fail at keeping resolutions is because we try to insert something into our lives that doesn’t fit with the rest. For instance, we purchase a gym membership because we want to lose a few pounds but then find our schedules are not flexible for us to go when we want or on any type of regularity.
Many people would insert the trendy words “balance” or “priority” to solve that ill-fit situation but I think this issue deserves something deeper. See we can’t just say we’re going to balance our demands better and place appropriate priority on all of them so we have a perceived increase in time to practice self-love. That doesn’t work at all and ends up with you feeling like you are being pulled in a million different directions and not being fulfilled by any of them.
So what is self-love?
Self-love is an act of accepting and appreciating all of you – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sure there are things each of us would like to improve or change about ourselves but true self-love accepts where you are in this moment with an appreciation that you beautiful, worthy and capable.
Can you say that to and about yourself…. and mean it?
It of course means you have to like yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. You have to like yourself, even when you find those new gray hairs or your clothes are feeling a little snug. When you love yourself, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to improve, it simply means you accept where you are right now with love and grace and without judgement, negativity or criticism.
There is a fine line between self-love and balancing self-improvement.
Where we get into trouble is when our pursuit of self-improvement tramples our self-esteem and destroys our sense of self-love. We begin to feel incapable, unsure, unworthy and undeserving. These are the “not good enough” thoughts that come into our minds and destroy our motivation and heart’s desires.
Practicing self-love can sometimes seem like we are being selfish or self-centered. How many times have you been told that you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself? Or put on your own mask before helping others. To an extent these sayings are true but I don’t believe they are all encompassing for what represents the practice of self-love.
But the world doesn’t revolve around us, does it?
As parents, we often don’t have the choice about who comes first in our lives.
Well, of course we always have a choice but self-sacrifice for love of another is powerful. It is usually more powerful than our own self and bigger than our self-love.
Think about the number of movies that show one character dying in order to save another. That same level of sacrifice would be something many of us would do to save someone we love, like a child, spouse or someone else we hold preciously dear.
Why can’t we have that same level of love for ourselves?
Yes, we should take care ourselves. Yes we need to be in a place of strength, confidence and control to care for our families but those things don’t always come as a result of us having time to ourselves for self-care or self-love. Sometimes we are powering through on pure adrenaline, determination and mom grit. We sacrifice what we need for the love of others.
There are days when there are just not nearly enough time in the day and we go from responsibility to responsibility with very little focus on ourselves. Does this mean we don’t love ourselves?
If we are up all night with a sick child and absolutely exhausted the next day so we skip going to the gym, does this mean we no longer love ourselves and are not putting our mask on first?
I believe our love for others becomes so deeply part of our own identity that their pain becomes our own. We are self-sacrificing for them and it is part of our own self-love.
That level of self-love however does need to include at some point focus on our needs and dreams. The deep love of another cannot be exclusively isolated from our own self-love, we must make sure our own voice is still present. We can self-love and still care and love others deeply.
To self-improve we must focus on ourselves at some point if we want to see results. If you really want to lose a few pounds, then you need to find a way to focus on your diet, exercise and rest. There is no getting around that.
Self-improvement is an important part of how we become all of who we are meant to be in life. When we intentionally learn we are enriching our life with knowledge and skills that hone our capabilities, expand our gifts and open opportunities we seek.
When I think about self-love and self-improvement however, I just don’t believe one should exclude parts of who I am. By excluding say all the things I do as a mom in a day, I’m isolating that into a compartment where I can’t reflect on me as a whole person. Thereby I’m limiting who I am as a person while I practice self-love and self-improvement. It would be like lopping off your arm because that doesn’t fit within a predefined vision of what self-love means but you reattach that arm when you need to write or reach for something. It becomes a disconnection in my life that doesn’t feel right to me.
So while losing a few pounds might be important to me and I know what I need to do for that, I cannot ignore who I am or everything else in my life to achieve it. This means I need to find a way to eat healthier, exercise and rest that aligns with the rest of my life. It needs to fit together as a whole for it be successful.
That may mean I change up our family meals to be healthier and thereby the ones I love are also benefiting from this change. I am extending my self-love to them and filling my heart with the practice of doing right by them and me.
It may mean instead of a gym membership, I’m taking the family to the park for walks, bicycling or playing. This counts as exercise and can be more rewarding than a 45 minute elliptical machine session where I am mindlessly pushing through a workout disengaged.
It could be cuddling with our son, reading stories and going to sleep with my arms around him at his bedtime rather than my usual later hour so I can increase my rest.
These are all self-improvement steps that honor self-love of myself without creating this disengagement from what is important to me. I’m generating an energy in my life that extends to those I love so it doesn’t become a self-sacrifice for my own focus and gain.
Who are you?
If we want to see results on our goals or self-improvement aspirations it starts by understanding you. This step can take some time because we are programmed to act and move rather than stop and think. Also, it’s hard to think about ourselves. It’s hard to accept where we are without judgement or criticism. When you think about self-improvement that can easily turn into a negative experience where you pick apart yourself and see nothing good.
Find yourself a quiet space and diffuse Bergamot, Grapefruit, Copaiba and Patchouli. (2 drops each is what I use) Then sit comfortable and talk to yourself.
What are you good at?
What makes you smile?
What is your best feature and quality?
What do you like to do?
Discover all the good about you and use that as a base for building the larger strategy for approaching self-improvement.
Carrying It Out
Once you know about yourself you can identify what will work for you.
As part of my new year’s approach to losing a few pounds I am working through this step right now. For me that means, a journal and quiet time to write out these thoughts of my goals and process I want to use to achieve them.
To be in the mindset to have this be productive and not turn into a to-list I first apply the doTERRA Yoga Collection oil Anchor to my hands and over my heart. I get into a head space where I can fairly assess my life and constructively look at where and how I can incorporate change for self-improvement.
Those thoughts turn into a strategy that I can use to define what I can easily incorporate into my life for self-improvement. I know for example, I’m not a person who enjoys 4AM rising and working out. I have tried it and it was nothing but pure misery to me. It’s dark, cold, and my body just doesn’t not respond to that routine. I’m also grumpy about it at that time and it ends up being something I despise and quit.
The answer then? I need to find time to workout somewhere else in my day. That may mean I need to start taking a short breaks during my work day to disconnect from work for a few minutes which will help my stress level and get a few steps in with a brisk walk. Then in the evening when the family is home we take a walk together or we play outside together where I can get extra movement that is intentional and focused on exercising. Is it going to be enough? Probably not, but it’s a fantastic start from where I am now and it extends this to my family as to not create a disconnection from them or a major disruption to my daily routine.
Don’t Worry About “Progress”
When you start out, the first goal is focused on consistency not progress.
Consistency helps create the habit so it becomes part of our regular life. Without consistency, you are likely to give up more easily because it’s not important compared to the other things in your life.
Once you have it built in and it feels like a natural fit, then you can start tracking progress, focusing on milestones and recognizing success. Until then though you’re just going to frustrate yourself with potential setbacks and challenges.
Interested in more?
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