I continue to meet people of service who have gotten out of balance because of their lives of service. These good people answer the call to love one’s neighbor but minimize the part about loving oneself.
I invite you to reflect on the following inventory to assess how well you are doing with loving yourself:
- I consistently take care of myself, get adequate rest, and avoid unnecessary stress. Many of the people of service I know are exhausted or not sleeping well. Others suffer health issues such as headaches.
- 2.I try to forgive myself and others since resentments are toxic and unhealthy. As several writers have noted, resentments are like trying to kill the rat by drinking the rat poison yourself. Think about someone you resent. Now listen to your body. Does your breathing get shallow? Stomach tense? Remember that the person who benefits most from forgiving is the forgiver and that forgiveness does not mean condoning.
- I am sensual. One of my biggest issues with organized religion is the degree of conflict established between body and spirit. Our bodies are a gift to be celebrated!
- I affirm myself on a daily basis. You might think this is corny or simplistic. But how often on a daily basis do you judge or even condemn yourself?
- I acknowledge the ways I am gifted. Your power is in your gifts. They are given to you to enrich your life and others. Just think of gifts beyond physical and athletic gifts.
- I feel joy more often than I feel guilt. Many of us get so focused on sin and avoiding it that we lose the in-born capacity for joy. What gives you joy? How often do you allow yourself those experiences?
- I admit my faults honestly and without defensiveness. We all have work to do given that we are all imperfect.
- I truly believe that God’s love for me is unconditional. This probably challenges me the most. I still am trying to shake the old image of a punitive, harsh God. I know. Easier said than done. But there is way too much violence and conflict these days, much of which has its roots in self-hatred. By working on loving yourself, you really do contribute to the world in a way that matters
What a beautiful list. I would only add a couple of things. One is that we engage daily with some kind of self-care for the body. That may be walking, going to the gym, doing yoga, tai chi, or anything that brings our attention to our embodiment as whole beings. The other is that in addition to our inner work and self-care, we engage in some aspect of service in the world–volunteering to help children, the homeless, immigrants, animals, hospice patients, or a host of other options which we will never run out of in a hurting world.