I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago, I just could not take the continuous self disappointment any more. I, instead, have missions and guideposts that I focus on for specific lengths of time that I run throughout the year. My favourite and longest being 90-day missions; the easiest being the 21 day missions and in between, the 66 day missions. There’s research that says that it takes 66 days to effectively change or develop a new habit.
This 1st of January 2020 got me to consider a few guideposts for the year. My story, which I am sticking to, is that these are NOT resolutions 😅. When considering these, as always, I went inside into my quiet space to enquire and allowed ideas to bubble up to my awareness. That’s when “Better Habits” came up and I ticked as I made a mental note to include exercise and doing important things on time (opposite of procrastinating) under that. In fact, I plan to get into the habit of tackling the necessary activities I resist the most, first. Now, that’s definitely going to be a stretch.
When “Positive Thinking” came up next, I gave it an enthusiastic tick as I acknowledged that it was a key guidepost and possibly a source of everything including the better habits ticked first.
“Clean Eating” got me thinking a bit as I pondered over some of my habitual food items I did not consider clean. Having been a comfort / emotional eater for so long, there were foods or snacks that I had come to associate with own ‘therapy’. I could feel that this was going to be yet another challenging mission but thank God I recognized how important it was for both my health and quality of life. I gave it a tick accompanied by a prayer carrying nudge.
In short, I welcomed these three with relative ease, knowing that I could “do” them and have actually been working with these, on and off, for some years now.
The fourth and the last one, “Loving myself” took me by surprise; not the guidepost itself because there was no arguing about its importance. I was surprised by the automatic internal reaction, or resistance rather. “Not after all the work I have done on myself”, I thought. But there was no mistaking that there was unwillingness to work with this guidepost. Part of me even wanted to argue that there was no need to work on this because I already loved myself. I could identify the deceitful tone in the claim because somehow it weighed heavier than the other three.
All this reminded me of a story I found rather funny and almost stupid some years back which I now realise was neither funny nor stupid at all. The story goes:
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” A certain ruler asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”Luke 18:18, 20-23 NIV
Receiving the internal guidepost urging me to “Love Myself” in 2020 felt like I was that rich young ruler who was told to sell all his riches and follow Him that he referred to as a Good Teacher. Sadly, the story of the rich young ruler does not have a happy ending. Was I also going to walk away feeling sad and abandon the mission altogether?
Before I could answer that question, I realised that there was a need to explore the source of the resistance I caught in myself. The biggest piece of this puzzle was how a people-loving person like me could all of a sudden, in 2020, resist the notion of loving myself. At that moment, I decided to drop the guard and be honest with myself. This opened up a surprising torrent of self reflective questions such as:
- Could I still be harbouring a belief that it was wrong to love myself?
- Do I still view self love as equivalent to conceit and arrogance?
- Could I be entertaining the belief that loving myself meant putting myself on a “better than” pedestal?
- If any of these beliefs still prevails, how possible was it that I would not battle with self love?
“But come on, I should know better than be a captive of those old beliefs, shouldn’t I?” I thought that, I had long counteracted all those beliefs with the simple argument pointing to the instruction to “love my neighbour as myself”. Did I not?
It had long become clear to me though that it was very possible and easy to love others more than self; disputing the notion of not being able to give what you don’t have. I would however argue that the quality of whatever is given from an empty cup, (love in this instance) might be questionable though. This now reminds me of a song by the group called ‘Air Supply’ which I took a liking to many years ago but could not say what it was about it that I loved. I was particularly drawn to the chorus line that kept on saying: “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”
Coming back to the subject of self love, if I claim to love others but am shy of taking a stand for self love, which probably means that I do not love myself; could it be that I continuously abdicate the job and expect / demand others to love me? As I pondered this question I saw an image, in my mind, like a pyramid scheme drawing, with each person only loving the one above and expecting love from those below.
This was a sobering image. There was no way I would allow something as important as love for me to be dependent on another. Yes, we are social beings who benefit from another’s love but to depend on it solely when none comes from me is the biggest risk I can fathom.
The most important question, for me right now, then becomes; “how do I love myself?”. I could easily look at everything I do for all the other people I definitely love, and do those things for myself.
- How I talk to them, with kindness and give them smiles.
- How I keep time when we have appointments.
- How I put my phone away to give them undivided attention.
- How I buy them gifts and make sure that they never receive any judgmental vibes from me.
- How I complement them and encourage them, how I literally become their cheerleader.
- How I support and provide a shoulder to cry on for them.
- How I stop anything to be available for them when they need me….. etc
I firmly believe that it is in the tangible daily actions I do for myself that I can say I am doing the “self-loving” mission successfully. And so, how I respond to the following questions will be my test daily as I embrace this mission in 2020:
- Will I love myself enough to make time for me without the need to be busy all the time?
- Will I love myself enough to define my boundaries and have them respected by all including me?
- Will I love myself enough to prioritize me, speak my truth, even if it means disappointing another?
- Will I love myself enough to feel all my emotions and numb none?
- Will I love myself enough to always forgive myself and or another?
- Will I love myself enough to listen to the still small voice inside which is my internal guidance system and always trust myself to know?
- Will I love myself enough to allow my light to shine as brightly as it is capable without attempting to dim it for any reason – real or imagined?
- Will I love myself enough to finish my night cream at the same rate as the day cream?
Here’s to being a conscious source of love in 2020 as I consistently ask myself the question:
Will I love ……?