Growing up reading fairy tales, I believed that my soulmate is out there. When he (insert your own preference) crossed my path, it will be love at first sight. We will live happily ever after. Alas, that is not what happened.
Now older and wiser, I understand why my prince has not magically appeared. I was not ready to be in a true romantic partnership with my spiritual, emotional, and physical partner. First, I had to know who I was. To be able to show up authentically and be ready to be a fully participating partner with my soulmate.
I have been on a journey for love for a long time. Three years ago, I met him, my bashert (Yiddish for destiny, soulmate), the love of my life. After two and a half years, it fell apart.
The adage is true, first I had to love myself.
I had to be comfortable in my own skin, accept myself no matter the circumstances. On this journey of finding romantic love, I had to learn to love myself. I started with Loving What I Have. Baby steps matter.
As I cleared out the items and possessions that don’t serve me anymore, it became evident that I had to also love how I was spending my time and who I surrounded myself with. And that made me look at who I spend most of my time with? It turns out it’s Me! I spend most of my time with myself.
I didn’t see that one coming.
I focused on the things I owned, my material possessions, skipping over how I loved myself. I don’t know about you, but what I found was that I was unnecessarily worried about keeping up pretenses.
Those four dangerous words hanging in my head – “What will others think?” – kept me stuck in a cycle of proving myself and pleasing others, two very human traits, that I over practiced for many years and had to unlearn.
To love myself, I had to unstick from those beliefs that kept me thinking about others and putting their needs first instead of my own. It’s the old airline tag line. Put on your oxygen mask first and then help others.
If I didn’t love myself first, I couldn’t love others. That was counterintuitive. I figured if I helped others and took care of them, I would feel good about myself. That, my friends, is not the way it works.
It’s hard work to get unstuck. However, if I was going to be with my soulmate, I had to get cracking, ‘cause it wasn’t working the way I was.
Like many women my age, at my current place in life, braving a new path in semi-retirement, unshackled from the obligations that kept me on a hamster wheel, I thought I would dial right in. Alas, that didn’t happen either.
I had to go back to basics and focus on my primary relationship. My relationship with myself. I had to practice, practice, practice. And change my perspective.
I am gentle with my daughter, my friends, my co-workers. I am hard on myself. How can I have compassion for others when I beat myself up over simple everyday occurrences? Small missteps that seem so important in the moment and happen every day. By now I know they won’t really make a difference in the larger picture.
So, what if I missed a phone call, or an email, got a slight fender bender, or broke a dish I’d just bought? I have learned to say to myself what I would usually say to a friend. “It just happened, don’t blame yourself. It’s just a small hiccup.”
Don’t dwell on these little annoyances. I move on.
Once I could see the difference between how I treated those I love and how I treated myself, I had to close that gap. Face up to my actions and change my behavior.
How do I know if I am doing the right things? Taking the right steps? What should I pay attention to with all the information, programs and plans that promise to make me a better me? The real key to loving myself is getting out of the patterns I’ve been repeating over and over again.
Each of us must find what works for our personal situation, such as weight loss – some never get on the scale, others find the scale a valuable tool. No matter what camp you fall into, use it, and measure it. Be honest with yourself about where you are making progress.
Another colloquialism that works here:
“If you have always done what you have done, you are going to get what you have got.”
I was so busy pleasing everyone but myself. I stopped taking care of my needs. I put others first and I lost myself.
Now that I can identify that pattern, I can measure if I am making progress. Such as, have I found time for my morning routine during holiday season?
Proof positive that I am on the path is that I took time for myself every morning to do my spiritual practice, my exercises, my grooming, no matter the mayhem in getting the day started and no matter how many times my emails pinged, people called, and guests asked, “How do you turn on the coffee pot?”
With my soulmate, the ability to identify my old behaviors was tricky. My patterns are buried in years of just doing and when I try to change them, they show up in different forms. With my bashert, I cooked and cleaned, just as I had for the 18 years my daughter lived with me. I rushed to make him happy, putting all his favorite things on my shelves, moving what I loved to the rear of the cabinet. I forgot to keep myself happy. No wonder things went south.
Now, when I look in my rearview mirror of what I used to do, I am kinder to myself. I understand that wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from making lots of tough choices in tight situations.
There aren’t mistakes, just doing the best I could at the time I needed to do it. It inspires me to work towards better choices, get more data, be more honest about the situation – all of which may boil down to a better decision.
Either way, mistakes are not part of my vocabulary. Mistakes make me feel like a failure. And we are all just works in progress. Back to practice, practice, practice.
We make choices all the time, with the information at hand. When we do the best we can, we can be proud of ourselves, regardless of the outcome and what others think. Isn’t that a fancy perspective change?
Changing your words will change your thoughts. Talk to yourself like you are talking to someone you love. Because you are talking to someone you love – yourself.
Be kind to yourself. It takes time to forgive, forget and learn new patterns. You did the best you could at any point in time. Now, it’s a new point in time. A time to fall in love with you and your life. Go ahead, you are worth it.
How do you show yourself love? Do you devote special time to yourself every day? What is stopping you?
Tags Finding Happiness