In celebration of the month of love, I’m sharing some. I know the concept of self-love and self-care have been around for a while. After reading about it and applying a few ideas to see what worked for me, I thought I had a good understanding of self-care. I created “bookends” for my days, rituals in the morning and evening. They helped both to set up and review my days. I found I had less anxiety, was less forgetful, got better and more sleep, and often had more productive days because of these routines. As time goes on, I’ve learned how to honor feelings of exhaustion, frustration, sorrow, anger, loneliness, and joy. I rest when I’m tired. I eat lunch outside in the sun (now, because from May through October the sun isn’t our friend here in the desert) where I listen to birds, the breeze in the leaves, and I’m away from the screen so I can enjoy a meal and a bit of nature. I’ve given myself some space to process sorrow over losses. I’ve practiced forgiveness for not driving myself to stick to a difficult schedule. I didn’t spend much thought on self-love.
We all have our way of living our lives. Sometimes, there are people around us who have strong opinions about what we do with our time. Those I’ve known have shown concern over the amount of activities I engage in. I didn’t think about the length of the list. They were just things I did based on my interests and my goals. I didn’t realize, and I guess it still hasn’t fully registered, that my expectations for myself were/are extremely high. And with those high self-expectations come similar ideas about others. This doesn’t make for a happy life, inside or outside of my head. In the last fifteen years, I’ve learned some about letting go of my expectations. Then in November 2020, a friend recommended I attend a webinar about values.
I had no idea what my core values were. Over the years, I had taken numerous inventories and personality tests, but not one about values. I knew some of the concepts I valued, such as honesty, integrity, accomplishment, etc. Once I discovered what my core values were, light bulbs went off. Decisions I had made in the past that fell into alignment turned out well. Those that didn’t align with my values were disastrous. Suddenly, so much made sense!
In the past ninety days, maybe because I’ve spent a little time here and there reviewing my core values and reading over my ninety-day goals based on those values, I’ve found a small window into self-love. I’ve let go of some expectations, as they were self-imposed and no one besides me would care if I met them or not. Meeting them seemed out of reach on most days. Perhaps some of that self-care kicked in when it came to accepting how I was feeling. And maybe I was tired of feeling bad for letting myself down, for not adhering to the bar I’d set for myself. With the letting go of some expectations, I’ve found more acceptance towards others. By acknowledging that it’s okay that I didn’t write a thousand words a day in two different projects, make a new recipe, meet with several clients, and stick to my schedule of learning and applying new technology (my personal bugaboo), my world didn’t end. I’ve found the similar level of expectations of others has melted away.
I don’t stand in front of the mirror and tell my reflection, “I love you.” (Another practice I’ve read about.) But I do tell myself it’s okay. Whatever I did or didn’t accomplish in twenty-four hours, it’s okay. I spend time on my priorities while honoring limitations that happen moment to moment. I accept how I’m showing up, and I check to see if what I’m doing aligns with my core values. Coming into this new relationship with myself is an act of self-love. Because of of this, I’ve found my sometimes elusive joy for creating. And what could be a bigger show of loving oneself?