'Put others before yourself' - it was one of the religious teachings of my blended Protestant and Catholic upbringing. I understood, from a young age, that I must put the needs and wants of others before me, that the happiness of others mattered more than my own, and that if I surrendered things that I wanted, to pursue the interests, wants and values of others, I would be a good person. It took a lot of therapy to dismantle this belief! And now that I finally 'get it', I feel passionate about sharing what I have learnt.
When I do what makes me happy (living from my heart, being positive, helping people, creating, dancing, making more choices that support my happiness) then I know I have a much stronger, lighter, and positive energy. People around me benefit I am sure. When I am not doing what makes me happy, I think my aura alone quite possibly works efficiently to keep people at bay, while the darker tones of my mentality serve no positive benefit to me or others.
Following lessons in happiness, came lessons in love. 'Love yourself', 'Love yourself first', I was encouraged by my therapist. And, in a disturbing way, disturbing because the concept of loving myself was new, these statements made me curious about what loving myself would mean and how it could change my life. As I started to embrace this new way of living and being, I wondered why such precious, empowering, positive and essential education had not been given to me, by anyone! Of course, if no one teaches us to love ourselves, it likely because no one taught our caregivers, leaders, teachers and family members. If life situations do not lead us to the books, into therapy, or to those spiritual circles where such matters are openly discussed, then there is no exposure. I believe we need exposure. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT LOVING YOURSELF, at school, in the home, in our social circles, and in the departments of education, social care and in the offices of Government.
Loving Yourself Means:
Greater wellness - 'Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well...I am not aware of any factor in medicine, not diet, not smoking, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery...that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death, from all causes' Dean Ornish MD (1997)
Being kind to yourself - Hold kind thoughts in your mind about who you are and how you live. When you stumble and fall, accept and forgive yourself for your humanity. When you are tired, rest. When you put effort in to what matters, reward yourself for taking care of your values.
Doing what makes you happy: Discover what makes you happy and pursue it. This is your life. Why would you want to live it any other way.
Holding positive thoughts about yourself: Our minds are programmed from a young age to think a certain way, which will be dependent on our life experience, our perception of that experience, and what others have told use about ourselves and how we have processed this. When we learn to see our thoughts, choose how we react and respond to what enters our mind and choose what we grow in our mind in the way of our chosen thoughts, we learn to influence how we feel. Taking time to manage and master the mind is an act of love, to you, to me and to our world.
Choosing to manage how you feel in a caring way: Some will hurt themselves with addictive, negative and abusive acts, some will hurt others in the same way. When we decide to do what we need to manage how we feel; take time out, rest, speak with kindness, breath through the feeling, scream. cry, punch a pillow, or express how we feel to another with maturity, instead of holding back and suppressing or avoiding, which only builds resentment and darkness in the soul, then we are loving ourselves. Everyone benefits when we manage how we feel in a caring way.
Accepting who you are, no matter what: To accept is a choice. To not accept means to judge in a harsh or negative way, to deny, to avoid or to bury. When we accept who we are, what was and what is, there is no suppression, no denial of self and no self-bullying. Acceptance is an act of love and sets us free to be who are are. The only person who can truly decide to accept is you. There is no waiting for something to happen; some change, attainment, accomplishment or success, because true acceptance is about accepting mind, body and soul, today, as it is, without reliance on anything external to who we are. Accept yourself, and by all means go for what you want, but don't make your acceptance dependent on anything but your own choice. Accept yourself, no matter what. This is an act of love.
Forgiving others, because we deserve peace: It may not be that another deserves forgiveness; they may have done great harm, inflicted pain, suffering, abuse, betrayal or cruelty, but what has been, has been, and while scars may remain in body or soul, focusing on the scars and their stories only repeats the pains; we are the only ones who suffer. When we forgive, we set ourselves free, and we find peace. We forgive because we decide we deserve to love ourselves, no matter what.
Choosing faith in the dark nights of fear and doubt, because fear and doubt cause pain and suffering, and faith brings peace. The outcome is an unknown either way, so love first and choose to create more inner peace and less inner fear.
LET'S TALK ABOUT LOVE
I am offering a teen talk for schools (Gibraltar to Malaga) on learning to love and accept who we are. Please get in touch to schedule your complimentary talk for teenagers:
Tel: +34 620 741 361 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.antoniabehan.com