The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

5 Ways to Love Yourself Today

Taking a moment for a cup of herbal tea on the patio. Self Love FTW.

There are infinite ways to love yourself. Starting helps.

You may get stopped by any number of beliefs. Some of the most popular ones are that self-love is selfish and that you should only be looking out for others; and if you’re an enlightenment-seeker, you may be hung up on the thought that there is “no self” and so self-love doesn’t make sense, or it’s against what you think you’ve been seeking.

I call bullshit on both of those ideas. And I call it from direct experience.

If all you’re doing is giving outwardly, there is nothing left to give, eventually. Watch out for burn-out in the form of fatigue, resentment, or depression. And if you’re seeking enlightenment, and you want to experience, directly, what we call oneness, then I’m telling you: all-inclusive self-love is a doorway.

Here are five things you can try. Try all in one day. Try one a day for five days. Try one each day a week for five weeks. Do whatever is fun for you. Start small. Go easy. Take your time with it. Little bits of self-love have exponential results if you stick with it.

  1. Look in the mirror and talk about it. Take a breath. Look yourself in the eyes. And just start laying it on: I love you. I love you so much. You’re doing great. I know you’re doing your best, and I can see it. I love you so much, exactly as you are. I see your puffy eyes, and I love you! I know you’re nervous and don’t know what to do. And I love you so much! I’m with you! I love you. I love you. I love you. Stay there until you relax and really feel something open.
  2. Take a walk, 10 – 20 minutes. Go alone. Let your mind rest, and let it wander.
    * If you are unable to take a walk, don’t let the love stop there! Try 5 – 10 minutes of gentle stretching. Roll your shoulders and neck. Take some deep breaths. Stretch your legs out in front of you if you are able. Stretch your hands and wrists. Keep is simple, easy, and loving. Be loving with your body. *
  3. Let your mind & body rest. Set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes, maybe 20, and rest. Let your attention gently return, again and again, to the space under your nose where your breath passes in and out. Don’t force any thoughts away. Let them come to completion and return your attention to your breath. Notice where your body feels tense, and breathe space into there. Letting go, opening, letting go, opening, relaxing.
  4. Make something simple. Simple creativity can offer great love, presence, and relief. And you don’t have to be good at it! Draw a stick figure of yourself or someone you love. Play half of a song on a guitar. Having fun? Play the rest of the song. Cut your sandwich into fun shapes. Be easy about it; just express yourself.

    Here are some samples from a daily doodle exercise that I do. Following my Morning Pages, I write a visioning page for the day. I next make a simple doodle based on that vision, and then I make a short gratitude list. No matter what space I was in when I started writing, these simple pictures always make me aware of a sweet smile on my face when I finish.


    This one was actually at a restaurant where I went to see a band. I saw crayons and fun ensued.

  5. Go back to the mirror. Thank yourself for the self-loving gestures. Let yourself know how much you’re kicking ass & how great you’re doing.

And you are [doing great]. What a gift. Relax, breathe, look yourself in your own eyes. Self-love is the recognition of infinity.

These exercises may seem dorky, and your mind may tell you they are useless. But if your mind is also telling you mean things about yourself and your life, you might as well infuse it with some kind ideas as well.

And did I mention, IT’S ALL FREE!? It doesn’t cost any money to do any of these things. Even if you want to draw and don’t have a crayon, find a stick and drawn in the dirt. Just honor yourself, and show the precious being you are some love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doing Our Best

your best

We hear a lot of platitudes about how we should be seeing and responding to other people: as if they’re you; as if they might be having a bad day; as if they are your beloved incarnate; as if you can’t imagine what they might be experiencing and why; as if they’re doing their best.

While I’m not suggesting closing our hearts to others, I’m suggesting that we live that gentleness right here at home first.

Okay fellas, hang in with me through this part. You’ll relate, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first: Most months, every twenty-ish days or so, I start to notice a physical and emotional buzzing in my body. I relate it with hormones and my good old friend PMS. Oh how we have a love/hate thing going! Mostly hate, yeah, most of the time, but for little treasures like today’s post, sometimes the love peeks through.

Who’d have thought one could have love for something like PMS, where patience is down the drain, where righteousness is at its peak, where fatigue and weeping take the lead and everything seems so-much-more-dismal than on other days? And, listen, this isn’t just for the ladies who go through these hormonal changes. Or only for women who do (yes, there is that rare female who somehow escapes the wild ride of PMS). It’s for everyone because I know everyone has moments! We all do!

So, what if, when our rage-i-ness, our irritability and short temper and judgments flare up, they’re met with a pause and some space? What if we turn toward ourselves, right as that “Fuck you, I can’t stand you!” thought comes up when we see a post on Facebook that annoys us or when fear comes when we don’t know where we’re going to live next and our lease is winding down (I’m living something of the like currently!), and we pause? We rest, just for a few seconds, and let the thoughts rip, let the energy blaze through the body, and we see in them our own innocence.

We have such expectations on ourselves that we be kind, generous, compassionate, friendly and understanding, and sometimes that’s just not the case! So can we be free to relax into exactly what’s coming through, thereby tapping into the heart of true compassion? From where I sit, this is where the heart lies.

It seems for us nicey-nice types, this is an unwinding and allowing that can take some practice. And there’s great, great benefit in practices like Living Inquiries that get us into the direct recognition of the innocence of all of this coming through, however it appears. So, even if you’re experiencing hating yourself, you can still touch this compassion within that. See that you are doing your absolute best, no matter what.

I feel that it’s this generosity toward ourselves in our direct experience that fosters that outward love, that universal generosity. But I warn against mental generosity, whether toward others or toward ourselves, if that’s not what’s truly felt. How often have you said or heard someone else say, “Well, I know that he’s just doing his best,” when inside you’re thinking, “Screw that guy! I hate him!”

Again, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to fan the flames of negativity, but I’m trying to give it its day — its honest and authentic day.

Yesterday I was sitting on the couch with my roommate chatting and I took offense at something she said, and out of my mouth came the words, “So fucking what!” And then I felt really awkward because I might have misunderstood where she was coming from or maybe I didn’t, but I wasn’t comfortable with my snarkiness and its accompanying words. Through a mix of my scrambled apologies and continued righteousness, went on with our chat. We were talking about wanting help, in fact, and she said that that’s just what seems to be coming up for everyone right now. And I agreed and said, “Yes, along with my hormones!” With which I know she can relate, and all went on without further incident.

As always, don’t take my word for any of this. Instead, take a moment, no matter what’s coming up, and see for yourself. Is this moment, full as it is, failing at anything? Isn’t it doing its absolute best?

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