Love is Within
Love is within us all. We choose where we share it and with whom.
Chances are, we have all given love and not have it returned to us. More often than not, we have given love to others without expecting anything in return.
When was the last time, we loved ourselves the way we love everyone else?
Perhaps, it’s time to pause long enough to add these habits to learn how to love yourself like you should.
Here are 5 fabulous ways to love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.
Spend your time wisely
Parts of our days may not be what we choose, but we always have the prerogative to decide how we spend our free time and who we spend it with. Much too often, we focus on pleasing everyone and ignore our own feelings when we are around certain people. In those instances, we care more about them than we do about ourselves. (Perhaps we feel some sort of obligation to be with someone because of a shared history or don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them otherwise.) If you are dreading being with someone and would rather have your fingernails pulled off by pliers, maybe it’s time to let things dissolve on their own or to have the conversation about how you need some time away. We all need different things from different people in different moments in our lives. What may have worked yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. Makes choices (even if they are hard and scary) that fill YOUR heart and soul. Anything less is a waste of your time.
Find a hobby you love
We all have things we love more than others. They fuel our soul in ways that are difficult to describe and yet we know how much joy they bring to our lives. Whether it being running marathons, crocheting, or cooking. These activities bring us to life and cultivate our most authentic selves. If you don’t have a hobby or two you love, find one. Try as many as you can until you fall in love. It may take several tries to get it right, but you know when you find it. If you live in an area that has multiple seasons, find ones that you do throughout the year. This will keep your mind and body active and allow you to grow in ways you otherwise might not. Hobbies all serve a purpose — some will carry you throughout your lifetime while others will be short loved. Love them all.
Focus on your good qualities
It’s easy to hold onto the negativity and judgment of others. To carry our mistakes with us as if they were a badge of honor. Deep down, that’s not who we are. Some people are downright evil, manipulative, and self-serving. (If you struggle with who to keep in your life, read the above-mentioned again.) Their opinion of you is just that — an opinion. You know who you are and if your opinion of you doesn’t match someone else’s, so what? That’s bound to happen. Ask yourself: Are you kind? Do you pay attention to others when they are talking to you? Have you held your word? (and explained why you needed to go in a different direction?) What do you do well that adds value to those around you and the work you do? Are you proud of who you have become? There is good within you — love there.
Give without a reason
Putting other people first could be considered selfish, but when we freely give of ourselves without an expectation, we allow our hearts (and who we are) to be seen and held by someone else. Maybe they don’t know our name or the reason why we do what we do. That’s okay. Give your time to the local shelter. Grant your knowledge to the college student. Share your ideas on how to improve a process. Giving doesn’t have to be expensive or over a long period of time. Kindness can be found in a single cup of coffee, a smile between strangers, or a helping hand when someone is unsure of where to reach. We all get through life with the help of someone else. No matter our circumstances. Love doesn’t keep score.
Be curious about what you don’t know
Loving yourself through learning, discovering, and exploring is priceless. Whether that be found on a self-discovery retreat across the US in a renovated van or taking time on your front porch in a hammock on a spring day. Allowing life to be something that is inquisitive and full of wonder allows you to love not only who you have been but also invites you to embrace all you will become. Travel to different places (some require a passport while others will not) and soak up what you feel when you are there. Do you fall in love with the culture, the food, or the people? Do you find your heart at great peace when you pause long enough to be still with what your life could be? Every journey starts with being curious and then exploring as you travel and finally discovering how those experiences inspired you, influenced you, and impacted you. For there is always more to learn.
Own your story
It would be easy to hide or feel shame for the life we have all lived, but once we own our life, it can never be used against us. It is the most important way to love ourselves. Through the mistakes, failures, and wrong decisions. To understand that what we didn’t know also helped mold us into who we are now. To be vulnerable and authentic in sharing portions of our stories with the world so that it might also appreciate the road upon which we walked. To realize that a bad moment does not make a bad life or person. A life well lived is one that is seen not just in all its glory, but also when we’ve stumbled into our worst nightmare. Even every cartoon made by a well-known company has at least one situation that is less than desired. Even when we try our hardest, our intentions sometimes are just not enough. Own your portion of it and keep writing into the next chapter.
Self-love isn’t easy
It can be difficult to forgive oneself for being less than we wanted to be. To look past the one thing we did wrong without seeing the other 99 we do right. To stay in the past because of something that cannot be changed while ignoring the present. Love is hard and it’s scary. It can be awkward and messy. Maybe even a little uncomfortable.
Yet, self-love is how we begin to live life fully. When we choose to show up the same way every day. To lean into what terrifies us while forgiving ourselves for what we didn’t know. To offer grace to who we want to be and strive to be.
Life is a journey and becoming your best self means loving you first.
Michelle A. Homme , 2023