I recently read that “we take care of what we love and we grow to love what we take care of.”
This made me question how well we do or don’t care for ourselves.
The idea of learning to love one’s self is rather vague—how do we do it? But the idea of caring for one’s self—that seems possible. And if this leads to self-love, maybe it’s really worthwhile to think about how we can take better care of ourselves.
But, sometimes we don’t take care of ourselves, and one reason—or is it an excuse?—is because we are busy taking care of others. This is how I grew up. In my family the greatest value was placed on being selfless. We did this to avoid being labeled as selfish. Looking back, I’m not so sure this was a healthy strategy and I now recognize a link between selflessness and repression. Some of this was observable in myself as well as my siblings.
I now see my father, from my adults’ eye-view, as pretty repressed. He did put a lot of energy into being a “good guy” and doing good deeds. But under that good guy façade was a gnarly, angry person who was very inappropriate at times. He repressed his anger, and he used his “good guy” façade to deny he had a problem. The idea of self-love was foreign to him.
I once created a sculpture of myself with arms wrapped around me giving myself a hug. When my father saw it he gasped . . . ”It looks like that woman is in love with herself!” I said, “Yes. Imagine that?”
Some people who are selfless use that to cover up other issues; they don’t have to look at aspects of themselves that they don’t like. But when selflessness is used to repress aspects of ourselves, I worry that what’s being covered up will eventually come out and people will be hurt.
I think the solution is to learn how to embrace, care for, and integrate all of our imperfections, and make sure that we take the time to nourish and care for ourselves. This requires a non-judgmental curiosity, which is at the heart of Live Conscious.
I’m convinced that if we take the time to practice caring for ourselves, and we create a healthy “me,” we’re ultimately more able to love not only ourselves, but also others. This is why I believe we should all take the time to invest in personal growth and nourishing ourselves.