What is love? It’s a much bigger word than four letters. For me it represents the entire essence of life, of mana, of mauri.
So then, what is self-love? Perhaps self-love extends further than mana & mauri. Perhaps self-love is quintessence – the fifth element?
Some years back when I first started my coaching training, I took part in a group exercise. In this exercise, we were to write down no more than two words of advice that you would give to your young self. I didn’t hesitate for long about what I was going to write. At the older age I was, having raised my three boys to their teenage years, I had only just commenced my journey toward the two words that I wrote to myself that day.
So many things would have been very different in my life had I had that knowledge then. Not only did I have a lack of self-love, I lacked the knowledge to even understand what it was. The biggest impact from this lack, is on my children. I reflect back and I remember my struggles as a young mother. I now know that had I owned self-love then, my struggle would not have been so severe, my triggers so harsh. Oh how my boys would have had a very different life! It has been a long journey to forgive myself for the young mother that I was. But I do. I knew only what I knew, I had the tools only of which were given to me. When I was growing up, self-love was frowned upon. I must always put myself last. I must always abide by the rules of others. I must only be seen and never heard. I must stay out of the way and never-ever have a voice. I must wear a poker face, never let anyone see your emotions. Wow! No wonder I was so screwed up as a teenager!
When I was in Form 2 (year 8), I won our class speech competition. It was probably the first thing I ever felt I had succeeded in. The winners of the class comp had to say their speech again, but this time in front of the syndicate. As anyone with a fear of public speaking will know, this was very hard for me to do, but I did it anyway. After which, I clearly remember the syndicate teachers pulling me aside during one lunch break. They told me how much they loved my speech. It was funny, it was witty, and they wanted me to progress into the school competition. However, they were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of the whole school and recite my story. I agreed. Together we all decided that I would not progress forward and share my story with the school. I was grateful for these two teachers, their sadness at my lack of confidence was evident. I remember watching those who did get on the school stage and perform their speeches. I was stunned and amazed at their self-confidence. I was confused as to how they had so much courage and belief in themselves. Where did they get that from?
I watch my grown boys now in their life and I am saddened that I did not bring them up in self-love. Naturally it was never an intentional thing, if I don’t have it for myself, how can I teach it to my children. If my demonstration is to put everyone else’s needs in front of my own, then how are they going to learn self-nurture?
I can’t change what is already done. I can’t go back into the past and tell my younger self to love herself. I can’t change the person that I was as a young mother. I can’t change the way I influenced my children. What I can do, is offer up that advice to my children now before they become parents themselves. So, here is my advice.
Before you have children, before you bring little beings into the world whom you will love with a passion beyond any comprehensible meaning, first begin the journey to self-love. I don’t doubt that you already will be an incredibly supportive and grounded parent, with self-love in the mix the parenthood journey can only be enriched. When we have love for the-self first, we are then able to give so much more to those whom mean the most to us (and to others). I plead of you to first learn how to give to yourself. Before you find yourself in the situation of devoting your ALL to any tiny defenseless baby being, who brings forward emotions in you which you will never be able to interpret.
When we have self-love, we treat ourselves with respect, therefore others will treat us with respect. We are able to assert our boundaries without any feelings of guilt or unease and we accept the boundaries of others without judgement. When we have self-love, we have no judgement on ourselves, therefore we have no judgement on others.
Self-love is the beginning, the middle and the end of all healing. I work and learn in the arena of emotional healing. Every time, without fail, the journey to self-love is the key. So, I leave with you these two little words that I wrote to my young self. These two little words that go beyond the surface level meaning. I encourage you to take the first step of this very enlightening journey.