From Sorting the Pieces of Your Life: A Woman’s Guide to Simplicity, Order, Renewal, and Trust
“That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy . . . all these are undoubtedly great virtues. . . But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness–that I myself am the enemy who must be loved–what then?” –Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology
The days of February are fleeting and I couldn’t let the calendar page turn without reflecting on love.
In this book we are exploring ways to simplify our lives, clear our clutter, establish order, and then add practices that will help maintain order and accomplish the necessary tasks of life. This is the practical, physical level, but underneath lays the emotional component. We have already talked about letting go of the past and forgiving both self and other. Future chapters will talk about change—addressing the Bermuda triangle of bad habits, compulsions, and addictions. This is difficult work, not for the faint of heart.
We can create a secure foundation for clearing our homes, our lives, and our souls by turning to love. Love is the soil that sprouts the seed of change. In my years of work as a mental health therapist I have seen one factor that has always preceded healthy change: coming to believe that we are worthy of something better.
Recently a 14-year-old girl who had been bullied sat in my in office. I was saddened by her account of a vicious emotional attack by another girl she had counted a friend. And I was amazed by the wisdom of her youth.
Where do you want to go from here,” I asked. “What do you want to have happen?”
She explained to me that she had seen her part in the unfolding of what happened and had apologized. Yet her taunter had minimized and lied about her actions, and had refused to take responsibility or offer an apology. Trust had been broken, not once, but twice.
“I have decided not to be friends anymore,” she said. “I deserve to be treated better than that.”
I was reflective after the session ended. I was considering my own inner bully—how I can be too hard on myself or make choices that don’t support healthy self-love. I am working on having a more healthy relationship with food and eating and recently discovered, The Love-Powered Diet, Eating for Freedom, Health, and Joy, by Victoria Moran.
The book is actually not about dieting. (Side note: The ‘diet’ industry is one of the most financially successful enterprises in this country with the highest failure rate!) It is about learning how to support ourselves with healthy choices for our well-being by practicing love. It is one of the most encouraging and kind books I have read in a long time. And it has reinforced for me the power of love to create change. We cannot bully ourselves into change, but we can love ourselves into transformation.
Last February, I wrote about the death of my mother when I was a child. I wrote of my own therapy many years ago and how my therapist taught me that all of us at one point need to learn how be our own mothers. (See Grieving Loss, Mothering Ourselves, 02/04/13, in the archives in the side bar next to this chapter). Victoria Moran and my young client have reminded me of that again.
I arose early one morning recently and sat down at the computer to consider, ‘What if I was my own loving mother, what would I do?’ This is my list of self-mothering affirmations that were created in support of tending to my own well-being by truly loving myself.
I will I get enough sleep so that I can awake refreshed and revitalized.
I will make sure my body is receiving vital nutrients every day and that I am not overburdening my body with food that is harmful.
I will carefully groom and take care of my body honoring it as a precious resource.
I will encourage myself.
I will treat myself with compassion.
If I am stressed or anxious I will practice self-soothing.
If I am tired I will rest.
If I am hungry I will eat.
If I am lonely I will call a friend or will do something I enjoy.
If I make a mistake, I will learn from it and move on.
If I do something that is wrong I will make amends to whomever I have hurt, and then will forgive myself and let go.
I will protect myself if another is acting harmful to me by removing myself from the situation or standing up for myself.
I will practice patience with myself by trusting my process.
I will listen to myself.
I will appreciate myself.
I will not withhold love for myself.
I will speak kindly to myself.
I will honor my passions and dreams.
I will trust myself.
We may know intellectually the value of self-love, but it is often difficult to practice it. As we attempt to offer empathy and love to ourselves, we may notice fears or resistance arising. Many of us received messages that we are unlovable and may be blocked to giving and receiving self-love. Change comes as we reaffirm our worthiness daily by practicing positive reinforcement for ourselves, and acting in ways that nurture us. This will lead to the renewal and trust in ourselves. It is love that will transform us.