The ultimate Valentine: Self-Love

February is heart month. Every where we look we see and hear promotions for heart health and advertising for Valentine’s Day. Whether we are talking about a healthy heart or a great love, we cannot neglect the importance of self-love.

Self-love is the act off taking care of yourself, which includes your body and your health. Self-love has respect for yourself and your own well-being. Self-love takes responsibility for your own happiness. Self-love accepts and embraces all of you: past, present and future. This kind of love goes beyond self-confidence and is truly beautiful.

No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
Ephesians 5:29 (NLT)

Self-love does not always come easy for me. I find I can be highly critical of myself, instead of offering myself grace and forgiveness:

  • Lori, why did you do that?
  • You’re stupid.
  • Who do you think you are?
  • You are not good enough.
  • You are not strong enough.
  • You’ll never be successful.
  • You can’t do anything right.
  • If you showed the world the real Lori, no one would like you.

Lil Lori

Lori King 3 years old

Lori @ 3-years-old
(Kathy @ 5-years-old)

Now, what if we were to think of ourself as a child. A 3-year-old. I call this part of me Lil Lori. When Lil Lori feels weak or scared, she gets REALLY critical of herself. She even beats herself up a bit. She can push herself to exhaustion. And the harder she is on herself, the harder she is on others, the more self-deprecating she is and the less fun she is to be around.

If Lil Lori were really a 3-year-old child, MY 3-year-old child, Would I ever berate her like this? Would I react to her with anger? Would I beat her up? Or would I wrap my arms around her and hold her; comforting her until she felt my love? Loving her until she felt safe?

While I am Lil Lori, I am still, at the same time, Parent Lori. And Parent Lori has the opportunity to truly turn things around and make a difference. To heal the hurt. To release the shame and feelings of unworthiness.

Parent Lori has the opportunity to treat Lil Lori the way she wants to be treated. The way she deserves to be treated. With love and respect and kindness and compassion.

Self-hate vs. self-love

Self-hate treats Lil Lori with anger, disgust, disappointment, and disapproval. This frightens and frustrates Lil Lori, making her feel unsafe.

Self-love treats Lil Lori with grace and acceptance. This makes her feel safe and free.

Self-hate has little respect for Lori’s health, often filling her schedule with “to do’s” until she is overwhelmed and exhausted.

Self-love gives Lori a time out. To rest. To nap. To color. To take a bath. To turn the phone or computer off. To go for a walk. To breathe.

Self-hate says “I’m screwed up.”

Self-love says “I screwed up.”

Self-hate says “I’ll never be happy, strong, successful, prosperous…”

Self-love says “I am happy. I am strong. I am successful. I am prosperous.”

My Thighs are full of strength, power, & CourageSelf-hate looks at Lori’s thighs with disgust. “I have great abs, a lean upper body, but my thighs are fat.”

Self-love looks at Lori’s thighs and thanks God they are so strong and powerful. They make her a great cyclist. The body is a miracle in itself and the fact that it is healthy is a blessing. The fact that my thighs are strong makes them beautiful. My thighs are a wonderful part of me. And I am beautiful. All of me is beautiful.

Self-hate looks at Lori’s tears and sees them as weakness or a lack of control of emotions.

Self-love sees tears as a source of compassion and the ultimate ability to connect to another human soul.

Self-hate holds grudges, blames, complains, whines, and criticizes.

Self-love forgives. Takes responsibility. Looks at the positive. Exhorts. Compliments. Encourages. 

Self-hate is the workaholic who must work through the to-do list. It says you must be productive before you play.

Self-Love takes care of the little girl on swing at sunset

Self-love plays first. Self-love colors, finger-paints, sings, and dances. It calls a friend. It watches a sunrise or sunset. It stops for tea.

Self-hate feels shame.

Self-love offers grace.

Self-hate holds a grudge.

Self-love forgives.

Self-love, LOVES.

From Self-Hate to Self-Sabotage to Self-Love

The danger of not loving ourselves is that it can turn quickly into self-sabotage. Check this scenario out:

Occasionally, my co-worker (spouse, mom, sister, teacher etc) brings in leftover candy, dessert, or homemade cupcakes. I’ve been good for SO long, really disciplined since the New Year. I’ve been eating right. Getting to the gym. Drinking my water. And getting proper rest.

But, in a moment of weakness, after using so many “no’s, Lil Lori decides to have one.

Try Approving of yourselfOne little. Itsy. Bitsy. Peanut Butter Cup. And not the organic, dark chocolate, raw almond butter kind, but the one filled with vegetable oil, loaded with sugar or artificial sweetener, and probably not an ounce of real chocolate or peanut butter for that matter.

And, maybe, just maybe, Lil Lori enjoyed. it. Really enjoyed it.

Self-hate will beat Lil Lori up. It  feels guilt and shame. It starts to self-sabotage. 

Lil Lori feels so bad that she decides to comfort herself. How? By having another peanut butter cup. And another. And another. And then she finishes the bowl or the bag. By now, she’s screwed up the entire day so she may as well keep going, right? And start fresh tomorrow? Or Monday? Or next month? Or after the holiday? Or the Superbowl? Or this summer? Or next year?

Self-love goes something like this:

Wow. I had a moment of weakness. I ate something outside of my plan for the day. It had a lot of sugar in it and it may cause an energy spike, but I may also feel a crash. But you know what? I’m not going to let one peanut butter cup take me down. I’m going to turn it around. Right here. Right now. I’m going to drink my water, eat my healthy food I had planned. Add a few extra minutes to my workout TODAY and tonight I’m going to get a great nights’ sleep.

I’m going to hug myself. I’m going to forgive myself. I’m going to love myself.

I am going to affirm that I am healthy. I am disciplined. I am on a journey toward being my best, healthiest, fittest self. And my best version of me.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Bat girl on a bikeI am healthy.

I love my self.

I love my body.

I love Lil Lori.

Lil Lori is pretty AWESOME!