Loving Yourself

The golden rule is a saying we have all probably heard in some form or another over the years. "Do unto others what you would have them do unto them." "Treat others as you would want to be treated." "Put yourself in the customers shoes." There are many more quotes similar to these, and they all come to one common conclusion. Treat others as you want to be treated. So how do we want to be treated? Do we want other to treat us with kindness, love, grace, and compassion? Or do we want others to be judgmental, critical, and hard on us? 

Often times it's easier to show compassion and kindness to other people, but I know from experience it's more difficult to show myself compassion. To be kind and loving to myself, and to give myself grace. There are so many things in our society that send the message, "I have to do this on my own, I need to get this right, I should be able to do this, I don't need any help." I remember year ago an army commercial on TV and the tag line was "Be all that you can be in the Army" and also "Army of One." I understand the that the message was about finding your strengths and being the best that you can be, but it also sends a message that we need to be tough and, as Nike would say, "just do it." I don't point these commercials out to belittle the Army or Nike in any way, but more to draw our attention to the various messages that reinforce "being strong, and pushing through" which often translates to being hard on ourselves when we fall short of where we think we should be.

Jesus taught us the most important commandment was to "love the lord our God, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength." Then, Jesus told us "love your neighbor as yourself." These are the two greatest commandments he taught us. 

So why do we struggle with loving ourselves? Why do we struggle with self compassion? One of my mantras I have repeated to myself on many occasions is "Lisa, give yourself grace." It's a short reminder that I have struggles, I am worthy of compassion, and it's okay not to be perfect. I'm quick to show care and compassion to others, but extremely slow in extending it to myself. 

Take a moment to close your eyes. Focus on your breath. See if you can bring to mind an area in your life where you can practice extending compassion toward yourself. Is there an image, thought, or word that comes to your mind? Sit with it. What do you feel? What do you see? As you focus on this began to breath slowly, if you feel comfortable I invite you to prayer this breath prayer. Inhale "compassion." Exhale "grace." Take a minute to repeat these words as you inhale and exhale. Allow your body to slow down, relax, and allow yourself to receive compassion as you extend it to yourself. As you continue on with your day, see if you can find moments where you can extend compassion to yourself. Practice inhaling compassion, and exhaling grace.