Each of us have different ways of expressing love for ourselves, but we can start by saying, “I am important and I need to take care of myself.” This inner dialogue is so important. When we look in the mirror, who do we see? And… do we love who we see?
When we love ourselves, we can find in ourselves the motivation to make healthy choices—whether they are about eating well, developing sleep patterns, exercising and getting outdoors, or having fun. We are ready, then, to help others and develop community.
Somehow, I think love of self is not just about the choices we make in daily living; rather, it is more fundamentally about how we feel when we make them.
It’s interesting that religions often teach some precept about loving yourself. Many may be familiar with the Christian commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” from Mark 12:31. The Torah repeats that same phrase in Leviticus 19:18. In the book of Mahabharata 5, 1517, Hindus are instructed “This is the sum of duty; do naught on to others what you would not have them do unto you.” And Muslims, in Quran 95:4, are taught to respect the way they are made because they have been made in the best possible form.
Each teaches a path also established in psychological research—that our well-being is directly connected to self-compassion. Joyful living is linked with good health. This self-care principle holds true in our daily life. Think of the safety instructions we receive on an airplane: put our own oxygen mask before helping someone else. We need to take care of ourselves first, in order to have the needed oxygen to support others.
While starting with reflection, can we move forward, applying to our own lives the attributes of love that are most often applied to our conduct with others?
Am I being patient with myself?
Kind to myself?
Do I show honor to myself?
I am personally hopeful?
Do I keep a record of my wrongs, or can I let them go—and give myself forgiveness?
Let’s commit to the often hard work of gentle, loving self-care, even as we face the challenges of life, particularly in today’s often polarized world.
As we age and find ourselves needing more support from others, we can often sacrifice our own voice in order to receive that help. At ALICEhelps, we offer digital health technology to maintain your voice at the center of your care. Creating a care community in ALICEhelps not only gives you a chance to practice loving yourself, but also equips others to love you well, which is a win-win for you and your loved ones.