Tag Archives: acceptance

Self-Love: A Cliché? Or the Key to the Universe?

Tina Turner might have been speaking about the confusion love creates when falling for another, but love baffles even more people when they think about showing love to themselves. Admit it… can you even say to yourself that you love “you”?

I had an epiphany not too long ago. It seems silly to think that after almost twenty-eight years of providing mental health services that this notion only just recently arrived in my brain. I’ve spent countless hours talking to people about their chronic depression or anxiety, their ongoing and repeated bad (and sometimes abusive) relationships, their horrible self-esteem, their exhausting obsessive thoughts, their crippling body-image issues or concerns with over- or binge-eating, their immobilizing lack of assertiveness, their shattering hurt feelings, their relentless old habits, and so on. Whatever “broke” their spirit and souls, I was committed to helping them reclaim their lives. Throughout all of this work, if asked, I couldn’t even count the number of times I spoke to someone about self-love, itself.

My recent “ah ha” moment stopped me dead in my tracks. It dawned on me that every single concern or challenge a person struggles with throughout their experience of the human condition is related to a lack of self-love. And I mean EVERY single concern. Give that some thought…. What does everyone want most? To be loved and accepted. What do we lack the most within ourselves? Yep!… Love and acceptance.

marnws4After realizing this, I also realized that each emotional struggle or wound that exists stems directly from the fact that a person doesn’t love themselves. For over ten years, my mission has been to teach others about Soul Health, with the main concept pointing to our willingness to align the ten branches of the human condition with our souls in order to experience what I call “radiant living”. But can we really align our lives without self-love? Can we really sustain change and foster growth and evolution without accepting ourselves? The answer is a definitive “no”.

Research, in many ways, indicates that self-love enhances our overall health. Not only do studies show that self-acceptance improves satisfaction with life, they also show that self-compassion provides the motivation we need in order to change our lifestyle and maintain healthy behaviors such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and even success with smoking cessation. Other research indicates that self-compassion and acceptance reduces stress and can prevent procrastination because it helps us recognize the downside of an unhealthy behavior before we engage in something we might regret.

A study in the journal of Psychological Science confirmed that self-love can also help us to deal with adversity, showing that divorced individuals who spoke compassionately toward themselves were more able to recover from the separation than those who spoke with self-criticism. Reading this research and pondering my work with clients helped me refocus on the importance of self-love as a person evolves.  But an even bigger awareness shifted my approach to both working with clients and working my way through my own concerns within the human condition. Humor me for a moment….

Why do we repeat old patterns? Because we haven’t evolved beyond them. Why haven’t we evolved beyond them? Because we haven’t learned to—or are willing to love ourselves enough to do so. So, if you wonder why your life is in a vicious and unhealthy cycle, perhaps it is time to work on self-love.
For those who believe in reincarnation—the rebirth of a soul in a new body for the purpose of evolution—the concept of self-love also answers why our soul comes back for another round. You might want to consider your unfinished business or karma as a sign that your soul is missing out on a little (or a lot) of self-compassion. If we repeat old patterns because of a lack of self-love, it makes sense that on a bigger scale, we also repeat lives because we haven’t figured out that love has something to do with it… self-love, that is.

For you Beatles fans out there, I’m sorry to say that they forgot a verse to their song, “All You Need is Love”. The remake will have to include the key to the Universe—that self-love is the answer to all of life’s challenges. If you want to evolve beyond your old stuff, then get to work on loving yourself at least a little bit more today.

For more information about self-love, check out this article from Spirituality and Health Magazine, titled “Five Self-Love Exercises”.

A Captive of the Clouds

Today is the 101st day that rain has fallen in my city since the first of the year.  I do not live in the rainforest or in the northwestern region of the country.  Instead, I live in an area that has been under drought conditions and record heat for the last several years, with rainfalls far below what is considered normal.  I have no idea what Mother Nature is up to since we are under flash flood warnings nearly every day while the west is shriveling up, cracking, and burning under the deep contrast of extreme dry conditions.

I don’t do well without the sun.  It is my battery charger, my literal and figurative day brightener.   As a psychologist, I see the impact of sun deprivation on a daily basis as clients shuffle in and out to tell me about life’s challenges, burdened with the added layer of the clouds and rain.  Usually I can count on the spring months to alleviate at least some of their darkened views of the world.  But this year, spring never really came, and summer has somehow gotten lost in the cloudcover; the sun has not made more than a cameo appearance.  And it’s getting old.  Very old.

I don’t often complain about what Mother Nature doles out since I have no control over it, but enough is enough.  I feel like a captive of the clouds.  My daily routine has been altered to constantly monitor weather.com to plan not only for what to wear, but also for how to plan my day.  I can’t walk the dogs.  I can’t pull weeds.  I can’t sit on the deck.  I can’t wash the car.  I can’t go hiking.  I can’t go on a picnic.  I can’t pick strawberries or cherries.  I can’t go to outdoor concerts.  I can’t paint the house.  I can’t talk to neighbors in my driveway.  I can’t grow my tomatoes, green peppers, and any other produce (because all of the plants have drowned!).  I can’t grill my food outdoors.  I can’t watch my hummingbirds or butterflies.   I can’t drive down my road without wondering when the trees that are leaning from the weight of the rain are going to fall across my car—or when the next sinkhole is going to open up in our neighborhood.   I can’t set foot outside with any skin exposed for fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  In other words, I can’t do much of anything that I normally do during the summer months.

When I lived in Indiana during graduate school I realized that I was susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a.k.a. the “winter blues”.  When the season would drag on, I would find myself feeling lethargic, sad, and unmotivated, but I could always count on April and May to bring me out of the doldrums.   It is now almost mid July and we still have
no sun, other than a few fleeting moments to remind me of what I’m missing.  I’m seriously considering plugging in my therapy light just to get me through until… well… fall—or even to next spring if it ever arrives.  The thought of entering the fall and winter months without an extended dose of sunlight is nothing less than disheartening.  I fantasize over spreading the wealth of our rain to the west—sharing it until everything evens out to create a normal and mild season for everyone. 

Of course, I’m always asking what I’m supposed to learn from each situation I encounter, and in this case, from all of this rain.  One thing that occurred to me as I was driving home from work yesterday was that no matter what, after a while we all crave change.  We crave and yearn for whatever we don’t have.  And we all look longingly for whatever might seem better on the other side—even if we complained about whatever that situation presented at the time.  The status quo only remains the status quo for so long.  And then something has to shift to get our attention again.  In this case, I’m yearning for the rain to stop, while last year there were times when I yearned for even one drop.

I often tell clients that we don’t change unless we get tired enough of ourselves or our situation.  I’m wondering how to apply this in the case since Mother Nature has more power over my circumstances than I do.   In essence, the only answer is to remain conscious of how this is shifting my life—my plans, my attitude, and my overall awareness.

In this awareness, I find peace.  Peace that helps me to observe the moment—to take it in, adjust my thoughts, and just breathe through it.  And also realize, that it could always be much, much worse.

As luck would have it, a severe thunderstorm warning just flashed across the television this very moment.  Go figure. 

Could it be worse?  Absolutely.  Will I stop wanting the sun to show itself?  Absolutely not.

My captivity continues.  But not without a grounded awareness that while Mother Nature is in charge of the weather, I am in charge of my consciousness.