I have struggled with the term "self-love". As a Christian we are taught to love our neighbors, love one another, but rarely are we reminded that the Bible tells us to love others "as we love ourselves", and we can't love others properly if we don't have self-love and self-care. Maybe it's because we live in a very self-centered society and we reject the idea of self-love by trying to give out more love to others, do more for others, care more for others, and so we forget that self-care is important, we see it as egotistical and selfish. But it is important, if we don't address it we face burnout, depression and pain, and that helps no one. This week I have been taught this lesson profoundly from several different sources. (I have always found that God talks to me through all sorts of different mediums, have you?)
On Leonie Dawson's Facebook page this week I read:
"Feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and exhausted, lovebug? Know this…
It’s okay if you burnout. It’s really okay. You’re not a bad person. You’re not lazy for having limited energy. You’re not flawed because your body has reactions to stress. You don’t have unlimited energy. You can’t do it all. I’m sorry. I know it sucks knowing that. And I know that it sucks FEELING that when your body has hit a wall.
But most of all, you need to know: It’s okay."
Then in a conversation with a friend we talked about self-care and how important it is for us to make it a priority because if we don't no one else will.
Then I read this in a chapter of The Rainbow Way by Lucy Pearce:
"Most of us are not very good at it. We're very good at taking care of everything else. We know we should, of course, it's on our to-do list in fact. But that list is long. We are busy. And no one encourages us to nurture ourselves, if we're honest it seems a bit self-indulgent. So it's not a priority. And we keep on putting it off. Ignoring the warning signs and burning the candle at both ends. Until suddenly it's too late; we burnout, or get sick, or melt down. Breakdown or depression take us hand in hand. Then the only way to recovering ourselves is through even more intense self-care, the thing we saw was negotiable suddenly became essential[.....]
We live in a world where we have to decide our own enough. Children will always want more, need more, that is human. And society will always require more of us too. So it is up to us to decide and clearly communicate out limits, it is our sacred duty to ourselves and our children if we are to share a loving and healthy relationship."
Then today this beautiful email from artist Tamara Laporte totally hit the nail on it's head with her explanation of self-love:
"I like to invite you this year to buy chocolates and flowers NOT ONLY for other people but ALSO for yourself.
Not only that, I would love to encourage you to deepen your self-love/ self-care/ self-compassion practices (or to start a self-love practice if you don't have one yet)! Sounds good? :-)
:) Absolutely go tell your beautiful loved ones how much you love them (do that every day, not just today), but DON'T leave your beautiful self out of this practice! :)
(And by self love I don't mean: egotism or self-glorification/ absorption, I mean: treating & loving yourself the same way you might do your child or sister, friend or mother, a person you love dearly - eg: with kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, softness. Self love also means; working on stabilising your confidence and esteem; realising you are good enough, worthy, that you matter as much as anyone else... that sorta thing! :))
More and more do I realise how so many of us suffer from self-judgement, self rejection, low self esteem, low self worth. I've come to believe that it's one of the BIGGEST things that stands in the way of growth, abundance, love, light, beauty, living our dreams and yes yes, even: world peace."
These teachings are so in line with Biblical teaching, God has taken away our guilt so we don't have to feel it, to carry it any more.
I feel like I am being sent this message and need to pay attention. But I know how hard it is to carve out time for self-love and self-care and I am still learning how to, I still find it incredibly difficult to ask for help and to ask for time to myself. I feel guilty asking for it like I should be able to do it all without help, like asking for help is a sign that I "can't cope" or that it's a sign of failure. I know that it is not, but society and the media can often make us feel like this and, yes, even sometimes unknowingly so can our families and friends. We feel under pressure to do it all, be everything to everyone and it's simply not possible. We need to make self-care and self-love a priority. I hope that my Gentle Parenting Retreat that I am running at the end of February goes some way to helping some mothers to show themselves some self-care and self-love and to refill their cups, these messages resonate so strongly with the reason I wanted to run the retreat in the first place.
I hope you have all been able to find a way of showing yourself some love this Valentines day as well as our loved ones, not because it's useful, or important but because it's essential if we want to be the best parents, the best friends, the best partners, the best humans that we can be.
Happy Valentines day to you all.
A painting I did recently as a demonstration for the Home Education Art Club I have been running. I want to add some more layers to make it a little more sophisticated and add some text for meaning. Stay tuned.