“You demonstrate love by giving it unconditionally to yourself. And, as you do, you attract others into your life who are able to love you without conditions.” -Paul Ferrini
One of the many reasons I love Paris is the attitude. It is one of pleasure. Some scoff at this disposition of indulgence, calling it lazy or selfish. Some think that it is only by denying yourself certain niceties that you can progress and become disciplined.
I disagree. While there is a balance, as in all things, I would say it is of great importance that you take pleasure in this life, in this world, in yourself. And I’m not talking about the fleeting highs that result from what the world calls recreation. I mean real, lasting happiness and satisfaction.
Feeling whole starts with loving yourself. For some of us that is not always an easy thing to do. We always find our flaws, things we could be doing better. We chastise ourselves for not giving more or working harder. We expect perfection from ourselves, and that is a downhill road to disappointment. We are not perfect, and that is ok. We didn’t come to this earth to be perfect. We came to learn and grow and make choices and become better. If you can look back on your life and say you’ve done those things, and I am sure you can, then let’s stop tearing you apart and start seeing you clearly.
Self-love applies to many aspects of life. Physical, mental, emotional. I want to talk about just a couple areas.
Diet and Exercise:
I’d say this is one place that has gone very askew in the world today. There are extremes on either side. From eating practically nothing to obtain an unrealistic body image, to gorging yourself because food is the one thing you can control, or because it makes you feel better for awhile.
While we see these problems everywhere, most of us probably land somewhere in the middle. For one thing, we could all pay better attention to what we put in our body. Who knows what is in all of our processed food? Then there are GMOs and pesticides and a number of other problems that make it difficult to trust our food. But I’m not here to chirp about the benefits of eating organically; that’s an argument for another time.
No, what I’m really getting at is our attitude about food and exercise. Maybe you are eating a little less than you really should, and exercising till it hurts. Maybe you flinch at the sight of running shoes. Maybe you can’t go to sleep at night without a bowl of ice cream (is that just me?).
Our bodies are amazing and deserve to be taken care of. Food is meant to be a joy, to all the senses. When is the last time you sat down with an orange, and really thought about what you were doing? Peeling it, smelling it, tasting it, chewing it. I think by appreciating our food, and paying attention to it, we can more easily find a balance in what we eat. You don’t need to confine yourself to a strict diet. Just mindfully enjoy the things God has provided for us. That being said, I do not think there is anything wrong with eating ice cream so long as you really enjoy it.
And as far as exercise, I believe the same balance applies. You need to strengthen and cleanse your body, but it should be something that makes you feel better, not something you dread. By no means should you be spending five hours a day at the gym, but come on, get up and go for a walk or a swim or do some yoga or something. Give your body its best shot at functioning properly.
The mental side of this is body image. We often think we need to conform to some template, but that is not healthy. You don’t need to be thinner, you don’t need a different nose. You are beautiful and unique, and what you look like is not nearly as important as how you feel. Take care of yourself and love your body. Everyone knows that happier people are prettier people. What you see in yourself is what you project to others.
Work and Education:
Whether it is school or a job that is keeping you up twenty hours a day, freaking out over deadlines, living off a caffeine IV and burying yourself in books and paperwork, please ask yourself, what are you doing?
Learning and work are meant to benefit you. It is good to gain knowledge and skills. It is fantastic to work hard. But today it seems like these things take away from actually living and enjoying life. Make sure you are putting things in perspective, and giving yourself a break once in awhile. Like, oh I don’t know, sleep at night.
When is the last time you did something solely for you?
It is ok to do things for yourself.
Pick up that nonsense novel and sit in bed all day. Binge on Netflix for a weekend. Buy yourself a nice meal, or those new shoes. Learn how to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Bake cookies for the neighbor you’ve never talked to. Paint your nails. Put on makeup and don’t go anywhere.
Just do something that makes you happy, and makes you feel good about yourself. People will say you should indulge yourself once in awhile, but that you shouldn’t let it distract you from the real world. They are confused. You are the real world. This is YOUR life, and you can spend as much as you want of it on you.
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What all of this comes down to is loving yourself. Because you are worth it. You are amazing. You know yourself better than anyone, so if you don’t love yourself, why would anyone else want to? You need to love you.