Thursday, January 8, 2015

Understanding Self Love

Every day, for the past 10 years, I have read a daily devotion out of a book. The pages are a little torn and ratty, some are dog-eared, and many have ink where I underlined some sentence that spoke to me. I've never been able to find a better devotional than this book, so I've never stopped rotating through the year.

It is called Journey To The Heart by Melody Beattie. No, it's not chock full of religious insight or even any bible passages, so if you are looking for a Christian devotional, this is not it. Though there is a mention of God throughout the book, it is more about understanding life in general. Each day there is a different, basic theme, and today, on January 8th it was about loving yourself until feels real. A take on "fake it until you make it."

There is one paragraph in particular that I want to share today, it says, "Sometimes, loving ourselves means accepting ourselves enough to tell ourselves other people like and approve of us. Sometimes, loving ourselves means approving of ourselves, even when they don't. It takes courage to stop cowering and openly love, accept, and approve of ourselves."

This sort of got me to thinking of past behavior on my part. I have often prided myself on surrounding myself with strong, independent, almost overly snarky friends. People who can dish it out and take it. I saw some of these people as validation that, yeah, I'm a tough chick, and sure, I can handle anything you throw at me - don't worry, I'm resilient.

But the truth is, those people weren't always the best for my spirit.

I actually have begun to view kindness, compassion, the ability to forgive as true strength. Sure, I can "take it," but nothing is written in the stars that says I should be taking it. I have come to the realization that many people that I have let into my life, in all reality, aren't exactly good for my soul. No, there is nothing wrong with them. But maybe, they aren't what I need in order to grow as a person.

I met a woman recently that if I had met 25 years ago, I probably would not have given her the time of day. She is, in all societal regards, not very attractive. Actually, if I am completely honest, she was not blessed with many outwardly attributes that would be considered beautiful. However, she had the warmest smile, the kindest words for me, and I could tell that her soul was shining through. I never really surrounded myself with these type of people. The average Joe, the person who is just happy to live and not really caring so much for the limelight. Instead, the "friends" I have made my entire life have always been the people who have to not only try to be the best, they want everyone to know they are the best, and sometimes, in an effort to validate themselves, they might step on you on the way up. However, if I had made more friends like this woman I encountered, would my relationships be more real? Would I have felt more genuine concern and nurturing, and in turn, would I have saved myself years of trying to figure out why I was not feeling that connection with others like I had craved, but did not tap into?

With that being said, the section I read this morning sort of reminded me that it, in all honesty, starts with me. I need to be more loving and patient with myself, and not seek it from those I might find myself around. Please note, my closest and dearest friends do not fit this category. (That goes for you guys reading and wondering if I am talking about you.) I'm talking about what I call the second tier friends - the ones you typically come into contact with and share some social occasions. I need to be more choosy in who I let in. Really in.

What I need to remember in 2015 is to accept who I am and what I have become. I've accomplished a lot, and honestly, I 'm really good at what I do. I don't need any other "peers" to tell me that. The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. I am valuable to this community, to my job, to my family, to my friends, and to my significant other. I don't need someone to tell me that, I know that - maybe by a simple thank you, or a smile, or just knowing I truly did everything I could to make that person's life better.

In 2015, I will learn to love myself more. I will be my own validation, and with that, I will become a stronger friend to others.

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