What does it mean to care for and love our self? It means to love and nurture our own being. To care for our self is to treat ourselves as worthy and valuable players in our world and not accept abusive treatment from others. When we love our self we heal the wounds of the past and learn to recognize in the present when we are being treated in ways that are harmful to our self-esteem and well-being.
If we grew up in an environment of abuse we might not know that it isn’t normal to be disrespectful, angry, or manipulative. We might think these behaviors are expressions of love or that we deserve it. When we get older we find ourselves being attracted over and over to people who treat us poorly and may find some comfort in it because it’s familiar even though it doesn’t feel good or right. We may have learned to beat ourselves up by an abusive inner critic who is never content or accepting of who we are.
How do we change these patterns?
First, we must become aware of the dysfunctional dynamic and how we play into it. Do you engage in defending your self when someone blames you for their bad behavior? Do you pursue people who reject you over and over and make you feel unworthy of respect, love, and affection? Do you make excuses for the person who is mean and punitive towards you? Do you dwell in negative self-talk and depressive thinking patterns? Start to watch your own thoughts, words, and actions. How are you contributing to the problem? Once you become more aware of how you think and react to situations you can start to make better choices.
When you find your self swept up in the drama take a break…. Stop…. Pause…. take a deep breathe. Ask yourself what do I need right now? Maybe you need to go outside for a few minutes, take a walk, or leave and go somewhere else. Maybe you need to tell the person or your inner critic what they are saying is not acceptable and you’re not going to continue the conversation. Maybe you need to just be quiet and do something else like read a book, play some music, take a bath or shower, or sit and meditate. These activities are positive ways to engage your mind and body doing something that is nurturing and healing.
As we treat ourselves as worthy of love we no longer are attracted to or attract people who are unloving into our space. Rather we attract and are attracted to healthy, loving, and caring people who are capable of giving and receiving love. We no longer give in to negative thoughts about ourselves but rather affirm our positive attributes and qualities. True love is within our own hearts and as we nurture that love it heals our body, mind, and soul and radiates out to others and the world.