Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Smiling woman who can love herself regardless of autoimmune disease
HOW do I love myself up?
Sometimes we get caught in two traps that keep us from loving ourselves up:
We think it is someone else's job or
We don't know how
Let's face it. We know we are hard-working moms. We bust it out for our kids clear up until we can't. We bust it out for our husbands, our jobs, our church service, our neighbors clear up until we can't. What is keeping you from busting it out for yourself?
When we think it is someone else's job
May I share a personal story?
It won't be pretty.
It will involve some pissocity.
It definitely won't put me in a lovely light.
But I promise you it will be real.
I have all boys plus my hubs. They are amazing, funny, fun, and I love them to pieces.
But they are not party-throwers, bless 'em.
When Mother's Day came around several years ago, I wanted to go to a movie that I liked (it would have no monsters with slime coming out of any orifices) and choose where we went to dinner (no T.V.s on the walls for my already screen-addicted sons to try to shove food in the right hole as they stared into space). As I mentioned this in the car, I was met with an uprising.
They wanted to go to Grandma's because she had jello salad that they like.
They didn't want to watch a movie I wanted to watch.
They didn't want to eat the same kind of food I did.
And I lost it. I actually unbuckled so that I could GO OFF while looking them in the eyes.
I reminded them about the wonderful parties they had. The presents. The friends. The pictures year after year of them sitting in the dark behind their cake with candles.
I'm not proud of this moment, but I'm so glad it happened. This is when I became acutely aware that I was expecting my family to make me feel things.
I wanted to feel valued, important, loved, appreciated, special. I wanted them to do it, and I wanted them to do it in the way I wanted, and I was going to be mad if they didn't.
Let's break this down now. I was giving them the responsibility to make me feel stuff that is MY JOB to feel, I was trying to force them to do it in a way I would do it, and I was using anger as a threat (ie emotional manipulation...ooooo, that's ugly). Yow, Mama.
I know. Seriously, I know. I know that we want our kids to have manners and to serve others and not become the kinds of humans that expect to receive but not contribute. I get it. But emotional manipulation is not the way. It actually decreases connection, intimacy, and love. It creates conditions and I really want to be an unconditional-type of person who loves.
The next year I went out hiking with my friends on Mother's Day. It was amazing! I saw some beautiful country, bonded with some freaking fantastic moms, ate good food that I liked, and came home to my boys happy and filled. The party they had ready was just icing on the cake.
My birthdays are fantastic.
I make my own gluten-free cake. It's pink.
I wear pink, I paint my toenails pink and red.
I watch a movie I like. I play my favorite music all day as loudly as I want.
I buy exactly what I wanted.
I write myself a letter about what a great person I think I am. I include how hard I know I work, how tough I am, how sweet I am, how loving and true I am, and if/when the letters come from my 3 boys...it's just a bonus.
I feel loved. Special. Valuable. And I don't have to manipulate anyone to get it from them.
The crazy thing is...my hubs never misses. He nails it every year now. But if he didn't, I would be fine.
My feelings are my job.
When we don't know how
First of all, if you don't know how to love yourself, you don't need to make it mean anything horrible.
It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you.
Maybe it just means you are out of practice. And that's okay.
I was so surprised one day as I sat on the ski slopes after 30 years of skiing and realized that I just didn't like it. When I said it out loud it startled me. I had been doing it for years just to be with the others who were skiing. Huh!
We are often really good at watching others and getting to know what they are into. Sometimes we forget to take the same time and effort to observe and notice our own interests and preferences.
It is going to be so fun to figure it out!
If you find that you do not know how to love yourself up, let's give you some steps.
1. Be mindful.
How are you feeling when you are out doing things that you usually do for fun? Do you feel energized, excited, invigorated? I notice this feeling when I am on a road bike. I feel carbonated inside, like a million little bubbles are coming from my toes until they burst out in a big, "Yarooooooo!" I must whoop when I'm cycling. It's like a magnifying glass on my joy and it takes me over. This is a yes for me.
When I am hiking I get a taken-over feeling like I just became part of the mountains and trees. Like a low-frequency vibration that I get caught up in so much that tears come to my eyes. This is a yes as well.
2. Find what brings you rest.
This one was so tricky for me! I am still experimenting and get so excited to try something new. I found that I had an aversion to things that were not productive and therefore had a general aversion to rest. I would unconsciously put myself in the position of having to "earn" rest to justify a period of time that wasn't productive. If I had a sense that I needed rest, I would then TANK myself so I could rest guilt-free. Not a great healing scenario.
I've had to create a belief that rest is productive. I've created evidence to support that and enjoy more energy than I have in years by resting while I still have some energy, taking time to recover mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, emotionally, as well as sensory.
3. Find what brings you joy.