Monday, February 14, 2011

Love by definition

Happy Valentine's day everyone. Today is the day to celebrate the special love and bond you feel for a very special bunch of people. But did you remember to say "I LOVE YOU" to the most important person in your world? Yes, I am talking about your "Me". Did you wake up this morning and say to yourself, "I love myself and am so grateful for being the person that I am"? I doubt many of you did. Well, first of all, it might sound corny to wake up and tell yourself how much you adore your "Me", especially first thing in the morning with bad breath and bed head in tow. But why not? Love starts with you. And if you acknowledge the love you have for yourself, and start to feel it deep within your core, that love will gain new strength, multiply and spread outward tenfolds to the people you love most in your life. But more important, when you affirm the love you feel for your "Me" everyday, you give yourself a gift that noone else can give you, which allows you to spread your wings, gives you confidence and joy to achieve all you desire.

If you can't see yourself saying "I LOVE ME" every day, then ask yourself "why don't I?" What is it about you that makes it hard for you to say "I love everything that I am". Is your body image dragging your love for "Me" down? Are you angry with a part of you that makes it hard to love who you really are? Though it may be hard to ask these questions and face the uncomfortable feelings, try and approach this process from a non-emotional stand point. Your questioning should be based on curiosity, not judgment. The goal here is to uncover the layers of discontent, so you can then face them head on and question whether your dislike is valid or not. For example, I was watching TLC's What Not To Wear the other day, and the contestant had severe body image issues. Every time she tried on a garment, she accused her body of being too fat, inadequate and just horrible. She was extremely emotional about the clothes not fitting, and you could really tell her love for her "Me" was abysmal. So the hosts helped by showing her that rather than focus on the fact that her body was wrong, she should shift her perspective 360 degrees to understand that there was nothing wrong with her body, simply that some clothes weren't meant for it. It wasn't about her body at all. Her body was just fine the way it was, but the clothes either worked for it or did not. Was her dislike for herself valid? In the end, she was able to choose clothes and accessories that made her look and feel beautiful and her love for her "Me" grew from nothing to new heights in no time at all. We may not have $5,000 to change our wardrobe to make us feel better about our "Me", but the point is that whenever you say "I really hate my butt because it makes me look huge", ask yourself if it is a valid statement. Honestly, even if your butt is big, it doesn't mean that it makes you any less appealing that a flat butted chick. Have you seen Kim Kardashian's butt? Or J-Lo's? (Ok, I know this reference to celebrities is not about what real women look like, but honestly, the point is that we look up to celebrities as the ideal for body image, so if their big butt is deemed beautiful, then it must mean that ours isn't half bad either). A big butt can be extremely gorgeous and sexy. So your argument isn't valid. And so now, it's time to stop the hate talk and look at your sexy butt in a new way, or to any other parts of your Me you have a hate relationship with (it doesn't have to be physical. Sometimes the things we hate most are the deeper emotional or personality traits we carry).

Still too much of a stretch for you? If you can't see yourself loving your "Me" completely just yet, then focus on a few things about your "Me" that you absolutely and unconditionally love. It doesn't have to be something physical. It can be a trait of character, something that makes you unique and lovable just as you are. Once you have found a couple of things you really love, embrace them and start saying "I love these things about "Me"" every day. Your love for "Me" will start growing, and growing, and growing, until you love those little things so much, you forget the ones that were bugging you in the first place.

One thing I know for sure is that the process of loving your "Me" can be a hard journey of introspection, facing fears, and letting go. But once you start feeling the love, the power you feel within you is worth all the hard work. Without self-love, there is no love. Plain and simple. You can't love others genuinely, until you are ready to embrace and love all that you are.

The numbers refer to the finish time of my first ever half-marathon. A gift to myself.

Happy Valentine's Day to all your "Me".

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