This month is rooted in love, not just love of others, but love of self. The art of loving comes from the understanding that to love others we must first learn to truly love ourselves. Although there are different theories in achieving self-love, one consistent theme exists: It is an ongoing journey, not just a one and done deal.
I think we can all agree that it feels good to be loved. We give signed notes and cards on Feb. 14 for just that reason. Celebrating Valentine’s Day became a modern commercial holiday rooted in love.
However, recorded history has a somewhat murky origination. Some say its earliest history is rooted in a Christian and ancient Roman tradition based around a martyred bishop named Valentine. Before his death, it was recorded that he sent a letter to his love, signed, “From your valentine.”
Love of Others Easier Than Love of Self
A great focus for this month, love of self; love of others. In my opinion, I think love for others is the easier of the two. Although, I question this as I watch the news around the globe as the message really doesn’t reflect love for others very well.
Giving of self and caring for others is one of the most humane and nurturing things we can do for someone. Caregivers around the globe are giving tirelessly for someone at their most vulnerable time of life. We can GIVE too much, though, which can lead to emotional/mental imbalances and rob us of compassion for self. So, make sure that if you provide care you put on the oxygen mask first before assisting your loved one.
Some may say that loving self is a sign of narcissistic behavior and focusing too much on self can be self-absorbing. However, the type of self-love I am referring to is the one that fosters compassion. The interconnected aspects of loving, according to Erich Fromm, is care, respect, responsibility and knowledge. The aspects take compassion to fully understand someone else and to understand self. When there is compassion there is care.
Compassion for self means caring enough to know your personal limits and to set healthy boundaries. It also includes having enough respect for self so that you can take moments of time to breathe, unwind and replenish. Maintaining compassion also involves taking on the responsibility for owning our actions and holding ourselves accountable for those actions.
Enjoy Laughter, Nature
Knowing when you are in emotional or mental distress and seeking support is, in my opinion, the highest form of self-love. And remember to enjoy moments that make you laugh, but also to laugh at yourself. Having the ability to NOT take yourself too seriously is an important component to this topic.
Something else to consider is to retreat to nature, one of our favorite things here at Hope Grows. Be thankful for the love that nature continues to provide; it never asks anything of us and teaches the lesson of taking care of itself. The beauty that erupts from the earth in the spring after a long winter of dormancy, where everything looks dead, brings an awareness and insight to us. This nature connection is so profound. If we allow the process, it teaches us that just like the roots of deciduous trees in the winter, we need to take a break to rejuvenate so we can continue to love. All of this is worthy of reflection. As we continue to support and help caregivers, we need to keep the concept of CAREGIVING rooted in this thought: By recognizing the reciprocal relationship between self and nature we recognize the dynamic of the caregiver and the care receiver. While we give, we also receive. We just have to be open to both. The book of love is ours to write, so let it be written about compassion for self and others with the care, respect, understanding and knowledge that it deserves.