American author, Leo Buscaglia, also known as “Dr. Love,” is credited with saying, “To love others, you must first love yourself.” Sounds easy. Who doesn’t love themselves?
I recently listened to a Chopra meditation titled “Journey to Well-being: Self-Love” by Dr. Sheila Patel. She spoke about loving ourselves by honoring our natural abilities and giving ourselves the attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance we want and need instead of expecting them from others. Those thoughts were good reminders, but then she asked a fundamental question: “What gets in the way of us loving ourselves?” In other words, what’s between you and loving yourself? What’s the obstacle, the mountain, the cross, the demon?
Grab a piece of paper and draw a stick figure of you standing on the left side of the page. On the right side, draw another picture of you standing inside a big heart, symbolizing self-love. In the middle, draw a large circle. Ask, “What in the circle gets in the way of me loving myself?”
My answer to that question raises its ugly head in the middle of the night and runs around like a cat chasing a mouse in a cube with no doors or windows—I’m not the cat.
The circle could be one or two things or a variety of many. Whatever IT is, I know for sure IT is from past events.
Identify what’s in the circle and take whatever causes self-disgust to the dumpster. IT needs to go away. IT could be anything—hoarding, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, grief, anger, isolation, perfectionism, past abuse, something someone said about you, a breakup, embarrassing moments, illness, obesity, fear, frustration, hurt, unfairness— whatever. What matters is YOUR circle as determined by YOU. You are the boss of your circle. Whatever is between you and loving yourself is only in the circle because you put it there. You keep it there. You are allowing IT to define you. You can clean up your circle, and the reward is looking at the reflection in the mirror and truthfully saying; I love you! You’re not perfect, but I love you anyway;
Buscaglia’s quote, “To love others, you must first love yourself,” could be debated, but there is no doubt the gunk in the circle could be the barrier or obstacle to self-love or loving someone else.
Alter and answer Patel’s question, “What gets in the way of me loving me?” Denial is not our friend, so be honest with yourself. The complicated conversation is between you and you, so the truth is essential. Facing what’s in the circle is the beginning of forgiveness and change.
Love is the goal of many, and it makes sense to me that it ends and begins in the contents of the circle.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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