Love Thyself as Thy Neighbor.
I was brought to tears last week when a new friend, who just so happens to be an oracle card reader, emailed me with a reading she'd done for me. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the reading when it arrived in my inbox (yes: apparently you can get oracle card readings without the person being in front of you. Perfect for the introspective yet over-scheduled working girl.) Let's just say I was glad my desk is facing a wall in my office when I finally sat down to dissect my reading. Tears welled up in my eyes, and you would have thought by my reaction to it that I was becoming aware of something I'd never known about myself before. Actually, it was quite the opposite. The reading was telling me all about how great I was at expressing my love and giving to others, but that it when it comes to myself, I tend to be a little less generous. I may well have been finding out the sky was blue, or that my feet are going to break by age 40 if I don't quit my death-trap shoe habit: it was nothing I don't already know.
Taking care of myself has always been a struggle for me. From a young age, I came to understand the concept as being selfish or rude, and that doing just the opposite would be what afforded me the love I wanted from others. What still shocks me to this day is that, contrary to my own beliefs, it's in taking care of myself that I do finally get the love I want and need - from myself and, oddly enough, from others too.
I'd be lying if I told you I haven't spent the whole week since I received the reading in my inbox asking myself why I find it such a challenge to make that time for myself, to tell the person asking to meet me for dinner that I actually need to stay back because, well, I just need to. I suppose there are so many reasons I it would be impossible to count them all, but if I've gathered anything over the last week, it's that I am certainly NOT the only one struggling from such an affliction.
I find that with women in particular, there's an inherent urge to lean away from taking care of oneself in favor of serving others, almost as if eventually neglecting oneself will benefit someone else. Listen, I'm all about being of service, but at the cost of myself? How could I serve anyone else - how could I convince anyone else they were worthy - if I can't see myself and treat myself as worthy in the first place?
The greatest gift I can give someone else is the gift of holding myself in high esteem, of taking good care of myself. Why is this, you ask? Because first of all, if my tank is empty, I have nothing from which to give another. Because if I'm cranky and tired and hangry (hungry + angry), I won't be of any benefit to myself, and I especially won't be of any benefit to you (that'll scare a selfless girl right into some "me time.")
When I take care of myself, I'm telling the universe I love myself. I'm attracting people and situations into my life that love me, and that I love just the same. By giving myself permission to be loved for taking what I need, other people give me the same respect because I've set the example.
In the case of loving thyself, it is the action that comes first. We can't wait until someone comes along to give us what we need if we don't know what that is. We are worth asking ourselves about what those needs are, and asking the universe to help us know we're worthy enough to give what we need to ourselves and receive it from others, too. The world and all is has to offer is ours for the taking, and when we take what we need, we're giving others the biggest gift possible: permission to take what they need, too.
Oh and by the way, if the whole loving yourself thing is causing you a lot of grief, don't worry, you're not alone (I was stomping my feet all week.) Give yourself a hug. You get to love yourself for that, too.