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The Art of Loving Yourself Today and Through the Holidays The following 754-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.
The Art of Loving Yourself Today and Through the Holidaysby Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
My parents used to tell me that there were two important decisions we make in our lives. The first was whom we would marry or share a life with. The second was what we would do for a career. My parents were right! These are very important decisions and ones I see discussed in my clinical practice every day. However, my parents forgot to tell me a third major decision that affects every aspect of a person’s life. They forgot to tell me the importance of loving and caring for myself.
In the weight management center and in my private practice, most of my counseling revolves around teaching or encouraging patients to love themselves. I’m not talking about an occasional manicure or massage. That’s nice…but it isn’t truly loving yourself. Loving yourself involves much more. Because the holidays are spiritual, it’s the perfect time to consider how you show love to yourself. Forget about that big gift you’re going to get for your “hubby” or the kids. Instead, reflect on the steps I outline in this article and try to take notice of how you show love to yourself. It’s impossible to love another person if you can’t love and respect yourself. You need to believe that you deserve to be loved first.
The first step is to avoid criticizing yourself. I know…we all get mad at ourselves. We all think we could do better. But remember that you also have a sacred part to yourself. Reassure yourself that we all have times when we know our actions are less then perfect. For the most part, all of us do the best we can with what we have at the time. You didn’t eat the whole bag of Snickers; you ate one. Tomorrow will be a new day. You can try again.
Stop scaring yourself. One thing happens and before you know it, you’ve made a mountain out of a molehill. The doctor may have told you that you need to lose weight or your health will deteriorate. That does not mean you’re going to die tomorrow. If you start changing your habits you may even live longer then your doctor.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. Wayne Dwyer once wrote that we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. This should remind you that you are not just who people see. Sometimes you make mistakes, get confused or lose focus. It is these times you have to have faith in something more then yourself. To beat yourself up would only be an insult to your creator.
Learn to be kind to your mind. When I mention this I talk about the importance of prayer, visualization, meditation, and mindfulness. These activities “quiet us.” We can breathe and gain focus. During the holidays people are scrambling and rushing. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype. Pray more during the holidays; meditate more and focus on being an instrument for good. A good thing to ask yourself during meditation is: if you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be your answer if you were asked, “What you were passionate about?”
Praise yourself. Praising is not bragging. It’s only bragging if you do it in front of others at their expense. But if you do it in private or with a dear friend, it’s called being a caretaker of your soul.
Support yourself. If you’re addicted, go to a support group that deals with addiction. If you are a compulsive eater, got to an overeaters anonymous group. In other words, take care of yourself. Love yourself enough so that you will not be victimized by your demons. Get help. Don’t “dump your demons” on to your friends and expect them to take care of them. You’re so much better than that! It’s painful, but you can do it!
Love your imperfections. Humor, laugh, joy….need I say more? None of us has it all. But the ones who laugh appear to.
Take care of your body. What’s stopping you? Exercise, eat healthy (especially during the holidays) and don’t forget to love someone. I tell all of my patients that the key to happiness is being intimately close, sharing stories and talking to good friends. However, remember to always reserve your sexuality for a monogamous relationship. Sexuality is sacred. Treat it with care.
Love yourself now. Don’t wait to show yourself tenderness. Don’t continue to abuse yourself with food or unhealthy living. You are a light, if you can be brave enough to let yourself shine.
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.
Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.