February 1, 2016 Leave your thoughts
TREAT. YO. SELF. Word. Words. Important words.
Okay, first of all, disclaimer: I am horrible at watching things. Once in a while I can do TED Talks or a Crash Course Astronomy video, but if I have to attentively look at something for more than five minutes, I get bored and automatically zone out, then go do something else if I’m at home. Binge-watching for me is maybe getting through two episodes of a show on Netflix. Yikes.
BUT. One of the only shows I absolutely adore is Parks and Rec, specifically because Leslie Knope is my spirit animal. (I too make intricate scrapbooks and mix CDs for my best friends. 🙂 ) Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because in one episode, Donna and Tom describe the idea of “Treat Yo Self Day,” where you get yourself massages and mimosas and fine leather goods because YOU DESERVE IT. Ben, who can be a notorious stick-in-the-mud, does not believe in the idea of “Treat Yo Self Day,” but is promptly dragged along in the shenanigans and eventually succumbs, buying himself a head-to-toe Batman suit.
Am I suggesting that you go and buy yourself a batman suit? No, I mean, unless if you really want to. But what I am getting at here is that you, yes YOU, need to Treat. Yo. Self., and you need to Treat. Yo. Self. to self-love.
In yoga recently, we’ve been talking a lot about compassion towards oneself, because it’s a hard thing to wrestle with. It’s a very human dilemma: how do we balance our individual happiness with that of others so we can love to the fullest while still maintaining our own sanity? That perfect midpoint is difficult to both find and sustain for an extended period of time, so we so often swing towards one extreme or the other. While there are people that devote so much time and energy to themselves exclusively that narcissism develops, I want to focus here on the other side of the spectrum: the people that devote so much time and energy to others that their own needs are lost in the kerfuffle.
Human beings are innately social creatures (even if you’re an introvert like me, cough). We want people to like us, we want to form meaningful connections with others, we want to be understood and held in this life. There’s nothing wrong with any of these desires: they’re perfectly healthy, normal feelings to crave. We feel that the more we help others, the more they will like us and give us the affection we so value and require. But when we are too focused on listening, understanding, and solving the problems of others all of the time, we forget ourselves, and this can be absolutely unhealthy.
A lot of my friends have been struggling with this lately, and what I want to tell them, and you, whoever you are, is that you are a beautiful person worthy of being treasured for everything you are, and while others will bestow affection onto you, you have the power to give yourself the love you so desire. Really. I promise.
It’s easy to get completely lost in the emotions of other people, because oftentimes, we really don’t like what we see in ourselves. Instead of confronting those feelings of internal insecurity head-on, we push them aside and divert our energy into keeping busy with activities or trying to help other people, to make them feel the happiness we are missing within ourselves.
And it’s a lovely thing, really, to be able to give someone else the hand he or she needs; in my opinion, there is nothing more gorgeous than genuine human connection. But at the same time, when you try to save others to avoid healing yourself, often in the hopes that someone will “fix” you in the process or in return, you’re not forming the best possible bonds with the people in your world.
Think of it this way: you and your soul and your body are a boat that bobs along with the ebb and flow of life. You have the capacity to carry others with you, too, and when you’re strong and healthy, you can bring those you love to shore or at least point them in a direction they need to go. And that’s AMAZING. But when you have holes in your hull, when your masts are worn out, when you really need to replace some of the boards, you can’t carry others with the same kind of security. Sure, you might be okay when the waters are clear and calm, but when a storm hits, those holes in your ship are going to be felt, and those on board are going to have a hard time hanging on. And you do not want that for those you love so dearly.
I think it is so important that we recognize the importance of keeping ourselves healthy in every way possible, because when you’re healthy, you really have the space and energy to help others become healthy. By health, yes, I mean physically nourishing yourself by eating well and sleeping and finding movement you enjoy, but I also mean spiritually and mentally nourishing yourself, too. And that’s a lot trickier than drinking a smoothie or going for a run.
We are stuck with ourselves for the rest of our lives. Whether that’s a fortunate or unfortunate circumstance is up to you: it’s a choice YOU have the power to make. I would strongly encourage you to love yourself, because even if I haven’t met you, I know that you are a wonderful person who has a secret talent, lofty dream, and a sincere smile that can brighten another person’s day. (And if I have met you, please feel free to reach out to me at any point and I will be happy to tell you what I love about you!)
It seems silly, but loving yourself can be hard. We’ve all been there, don’t deny it. But if you’re willing to put in energy, to sift through some figurative nasty shit, to really get to know yourself, you can do it. And if you love yourself first, you will be able to love other people in extraordinary ways. And to me, there’s nothing more amazing than having a life filled with love, love for both YOURSELF and those around you.
Well, how do you get there? It’s not easy, and it’s different for everyone, but I’m going to try my best to explain. Regardless, I want to encourage you to try, because as I’ve said, I’m 10000000% sure that you are a person worthy of being loved by both yourself and others.
I think the first thing you have to do is to get comfortable with yourself and your flaws. In our society, we fixate so much time and effort towards erasing our imperfections, which I think is misguided. Instead, I believe we should learn how to embrace what we don’t like and figure out how to work with it: a cooperative relationship, not a combative one. You’re never going to be perfect. No one is. So why not choose to be okay with this person you’ve been given, with this person you’re growing into? Recognize your good qualities, because they’re there, and it doesn’t make you a bad person for acknowledging them. YOU ARE AWESOME. Live it. Breathe it. Be it.
If there are things you don’t like about yourself (which I’m sure there are), look into yourself and sort out why you don’t like them. If you don’t like how you look, read this. The gist of it is that there is no such thing as a perfect body, so aim to feel your best instead of look a certain way. Also, “imperfections” to you can be incredibly cute to someone else. Trust me.
If you don’t like a certain thing you do, be it biting your nails or getting anxious about tests or delivering unconscious criticism, recognize that it’s there and ask yourself why, and how you can get to a place where it’s better. Have conversations with yourself. Chat with others. It may not come right away, but if you look, you can definitely find a way to sort it out. You’ve got this.
What comes next is finding where you can be this comfortable self. What makes you feel happy and good? You deserve to be doing those things, so long as they are positive towards all human beings.
For me, that’s where yoga really comes in. My friends all know this: if I don’t respond to your message right away, it’s because I’m busy chanting “om” with my kula or daring myself to try a crazy new backbend. When I unroll my mat on the heated floor (bless that heated floor), I know it’s me time. My practice is dealing with me and my feelings and my body and no one else’s. Yes, I am surrounded by other people that I care dearly about, but we’re all there for the same reason: to have time with ourselves in a safe, loving place.
Yoga is not a selfish practice; it’s quite the opposite. Yoga is all about cultivating peace and love with yourself first and foremost so you may sprinkle good energy into your community and onto your loved ones, and that’s not selfish in the slightest. You’ve gotta take care of yourself first, because taking care of yourself enables you to be at your most grounded and enlightened when dealing with the chaos of others and the universe in general. That’s why we keep coming back: to return to the present moment in ourselves so we may be present with others.
It doesn’t have to be yoga. Cooking and drawing and reading and writing all have the same effect, for me at least. You can take walks in nature. You can rollerskate. You can play the ukulele. You can crochet. You can sing, or dance, or act. You can paint yourself purple. You can build a doghouse. You can compose passionate sonnets. Whatever it is, find time for yourself every day where you can be yourself in doing something that you love. And do it for YOU and NO ONE ELSE. You can do that. Really.
I think the final step is surrounding yourself with people who help you sustain balance in your life. I believe that it is important to radiate love and kindness towards all human beings, regardless of how they treat you or what your opinions about them may be. We all have feelings, we all have hearts, we all have giggles and fears and crushes, and we must acknowledge and honor that wonderful fact about humanity. But how much love you give to others is subjective, because your love is beautiful, and it shouldn’t be put just anywhere.
If someone mistreats your love, you should invest your love elsewhere. Yes, we all go through difficult times in our lives, and in those moments, people may not be able to appreciate or reciprocate love because they’re working out their own crap. And it’s kind and special and lovely when you can be there unconditionally for someone you love during those times, because no one should ever feel alone in anything. But when someone time and time again is draining your love from you, it’s not selfish to put forth less love towards that relationship, be it platonic or romantic. Take care of yourself and transfer love to someone you really care about, someone who could really use it and appreciate it.
You have permission to take a deep breath and let go. It’s okay.
So, I know everybody is big on New Year’s resolutions, but since I actually missed the New Year this year (my best friend and I were too busy chattering away and when we looked up the countdown, it was counting up…oops), I would encourage you to make a Valentine’s Day resolution. (What even, Abby? You are an unusual potato.)
Your Valentine’s Day resolution is this: this February 14th, love the special people in your life, but LOVE. YOURSELF. And I will say it again…
You are a fantastic person, and you are beautiful and people adore you. So give yourself that respect and care you deserve, because you ain’t gonna be able to treat others right if you don’t treat yo self first.
Remind yourself of this every day and night: you love and you are loved. <3
xoxo <3 <3,