Nurturing Yourself

15 Jul

Do we love and appreciate ourselves?  If we don’t love ourselves, we will sabotage our own spiritual, emotional and professional progress.  We won’t allow ourselves to go higher simply because we don’t believe we are capable or worthy of going higher.  This spiritual malady (often reinforced by misguided parents, peers, authority figures and even the media) will infect us with the false belief that we don’t deserve that fulfilling job, that meaningful relationship, that beautiful home or even those exalting spiritual experiences that we need and deserve.  In addition, if we don’t love ourselves, we will short-circuit our ability to give love and to receive love.  In fact, we may fail, whether consciously or unconsciously, just to prove that we are unworthy.

“Not only does this unconscious self-hatred get in the way of expressing love, it also interferes with receiving love,” writes Dr. Harville Hendrix.  “You cannot feel worthy of accepting love if you unconsciously hate yourself or even hate some parts of yourself.”  Those who are spiritually inclined tend to hold high standards for themselves and to be overly critical of themselves.  They also tend to be extremely sensitive to what others say.  While we should be realistic about area in our life where we need to improve, we also have to be realistic about the nature of life and spirituality.  Life is a path, and spirituality is a process.  Today we are not who we were yesterday, just as we are not now who we will be tomorrow.

When we deal with children, we know that they are engaged in a continual process of growth and refinement, and we don’t criticize them if they make a mistake.  Yet we don’t always translate that process into our adult life and treat our soul in the same way.   The soul is our inner child, still in the process of refinement, still unfolding her full potential.  No matter what our inner child is experiencing now, we can love our soul as she walks the path of becoming whole.  For what’s most important is not how far we still have to go but whether we are fully engaged in the process. Can we listen to what our heart tells us is the next step on our path and take it?

If you want to empower your heart, start by listening to what your heart says you need at that moment.  It could be anything from stopping to smell the flowers to getting a back rub to exploring a career change.  Listening to our heart is empowering because its the first step to taking responsibility for our own needs.  “If you want love, take the time to listen to your heart,” advises author and Buddhist meditation teacher Jack Kornfield.  “In most ancient and wise cultures. it is a regular practice for people to talk to their hearts…In the heart of each of us, there is a voice of knowing, a song than can remind us of what we most value and long for, what we have known since we were a child.”

Sometimes we deny the voice of our heart.  We think that taking care of our own needs is selfish.  But when we take care of our own needs, we are recharging our spiritual and physical reserves so that we in turn can give more to others.  If we don’t nurture ourselves, we can’t really value and nurture others.  Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself–in other words, love your neighbor as you would love yourself.

Love is, above all,

the gift of oneself

-Jean Anoulh


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