I happened onto the hashtag #selflove on Twitter one night, and I was curious about how it was being used So I checked out the definition someone had given it on tagdef.com.
Could have several empowering meanings, but is often used as a politically correct term for solo masturbation.
Basically, I’m not buyin’ it
Interesting, and maybe useful to some. But way off base in my view. Honestly, it confused me a bit. Just not at all what I expected. So I looked up self-love on dictionary.com. Check out this depressing definition:
Yikes. That’s harsh! Especially since we tend to be in constant overdrive these days. But then I realized, I’m just not buyin’ this. In fact, I think it needs a 21st century reboot.
So what’s a self-loving woman to do?
In short, I just took matters into my own hands. :)
I went back to tagdef.com, entered #selflove, and added my own definition:
Self-love: a healthy, positive sense of self that creates resulting habits of self-nurturance and self-care, rather than waiting for someone or something outside us to deem us lovable and to care for us.
“Self-love creates a healthy foundation for empowered choices.”
To be sure, I could have worked on that a bit more before I hit “done.” But so be it. It’s there now. I hope it’ll be helpful to someone, somewhere, sometime.
Because I say self-love is essential in our action-packed lives. In our lives of service to family and community. Our lives jammed with productivity.
Self-love makes a difference
We’re wise to take extraordinary care of ourselves in the midst of whatever we’re up to in the world. Extraordinary self-care creates the ‘fertile soil’ from which everything we want to be can blossom and grow.
So I say go get ’em from a foundation of self-love, my dears. And more, keep coming back to the place of balance that self-love demands.
The fact is, we can’t go entirely off the deep end while we’ve also got to get on to a nutritious meal, a good night’s sleep, and all the other healthy parts of our self-care lists. All things in their own time and place, right?
Are you with me on this? Good. Because I’ve gotta get some rest!
Chronic conflict can sap your strength. It can really mess up your life. Maybe you know just what I mean: the searingly painful kind, when every attempt to communicate ends in anger, sadness, and feelings of failure. Ugh.
The fact is, this kind of recurring bad dream is oh, so human. What to do? Let’s go there.
1. Begin with you.
Yes. You. The bottom line is, this is the only place where you have control. There isn’t a thing you can do about someone else’s actions and reactions. But there is an upside to that downside. You can work very effectively with your part in any challenging situation.
Now, think about these questions with your situation in mind:
What’s your goal for the communication?
What are the potential land mines?
What are the potential opportunities?
2. Create a constructive point of view.
Next, while considering all that, set aside your judgments, all the yada yada yada about the other person. Really. And yes, all your reasons not to will rear up here like ghosts from a grave. It’s human.
Yet this is something we can do to get beyond conflict. We can—because our goals matter—begin to handle chronic issues in new ways. Like working within our own new, non-negotiable commitments to ourselves.
For example, let’s say two ex-spouses can’t communicate without battling, and their kids are caught in the crossfire. Ouch. Right? And oh, so human.
But each parent can in fact step back, think about the situation, and find a point of view that eases conflict. Maybe their struggle is partly about being alike in some ways. Passionate. Uncompromising. Or still feeling things that get in the way of the work of the moment.
Each can in fact do the good work of assuming and imagining that the other is feeling similar feelings and frustrations. Including a need to stop the madness.
They can begin there. Then progress is suddenly, absolutely possible.
3. Stay in the present.
Don’t waste energy rehashing the past. Really. It’s a losing battle, and one that’s over already. Right? Don’t keep re-creating it. It’s exhausting.
Instead, in the privacy of your own sincere heart, try releasing all the meanings you’re giving past failed attempts to communicate. They don’t mean a thing, except whatever power you give them.
Let it all go. You deserve it. Then connect in present time, calmly. Think solutions.
Like the mom and dad above, you can rise to the challenge. It’s self-discipline in action. Step up to that version of you. Then demo that “you” for the folks who matter in your particular situation. They’ll feel—and learn from—your good work.
And remember that at times we humans learn slowly. Repetition is powerful. Play a long game, especially in relationships that are life-long, like co-parenting.
4. Keep coming back to you.
Let’s imagine another scene:
An employee can’t relate to her supervisor, feels mistreated or unappreciated, and knows her feelings may hurt her career. It’s a “catch 22.” Lose-lose. Because the truth is, her supervisor’s positive feedback is the gateway to greater opportunities.
If she counts out dramatic steps like going around the supervisor, which could backfire big-time, she can get about the business of giving up her judgments about what has happened so far. Yep, in light of her goals, doing just that is part of her work at hand.
She can own her part in the way things have gone. She can move forward, into the future she wants, rather than trying to get justice somehow by “being right” about… whatever. In short, she can stop re-playing losing battles and reclaim the energy they’ve been stealing from her.
Instead, maybe she can find some compassion within herself for her supervisor’s pressures and stresses. Or inspire herself with thoughts of the happy day this relationship is in her rear-view mirror because she negotiated it beautifully.
Imagine the renewed energy and the fresh approach that good work can generate. Seriously.
5. Create an intention for the conversation.
Creating an intention helps us bring our best to the table. One intention might be to have a simple, effective exchange. One first, small, calm victory. Another might be to stay centered despite any curve balls.
Create an intention that energizes you. One that becomes your compass in potentially choppy waters as you manage yourself. Remember: work with what you can control. And mean it. Bring your own A-game.
Then success or failure isn’t in anyone’s hands but your own. If you handle yourself as you intended, you’ve succeeded. Worth repeating: If you handle yourself as you intended, you’ve succeeded. And you’ve grown.
6. Prepare with a little role-play.
Why do so many of us hate role-playing? After all, we lived it 24 and 7 as kids, effortlessly. And it’s in fact a secret weapon toward self-mastery in tough situations.
You can share with a helper a bit about the “rough weather” that may come your way. Then let this kind soul help you practice getting beyond those squalls in ways that match your intention.
Make it fun! I promise it will make a difference, maybe the difference, in getting beyond conflict.
7. Agree to stop and re-schedule if needed.
Consider sharing your intention at the start of the conversation. Your new context may help set a new tone.
A couple of ground rules also help:
One is for both parties to agree to stick to I statements. (I feel this. I need/request that.) Avoid you statements. (You always/never… You’re… whatever.)
Another is to agree up front that if either person starts to get distressed, it’s time to close up shop and try again later. Like role-playing, this works, if you calmly follow through before slippage leads to wreckage. Really. Stop.
And I do mean calmly. What’s more, be proud of yourself when you manage this.
Because then even ending a conversation shows commitment to get beyond conflict. And it implies more good work to come.
8. Keep imagining the outcomes you want, not the ones you fear.
Finally, like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, keep upping your game toward the breakthrough you’re looking for. Spend time envisioning exactly what you want. Imagine progress like moments of mutual kindness, new understanding, and positive outcomes.
Then allow what you’ve imagined to guide you: your greeting, and your tone. The words you use. Your facial expressions and body language. The energy behind the words you choose.
Be you, yes. Be your best you. Don’t hold that you back! What better time than in a moment that matters so much? Remember, you—and yours—deserve an amazing life. Don’t let chronic conflict bring you down.
How can we find words for “everyday mystery” these days? And I mean in ways beyond all the old religious constructs. They may no longer ring true for you. They may feel tired, or loaded, or may trigger you in whatever ways. Poetry is one possibility.
You can’t know what I have to share
unless I tell you. I know,
I know it’s fraught, the spiritual,
no way to cross that threshold with anyone
who hasn’t opened—or who has closed
for whatever reason—
that door. No way
to offer that wine.
Or is there? Is a baby’s breath enough,
or a dew-covered tomato shining
through viney profusion
in the backyard next to the fig tree
spilling its jewels?
Because those moments do come,
like sudden lightning that clears the field
and jolts our hearts, too,
that meet their mark.
Words and moments that matter.
What will I see, feel, know,
offer, and be fed by today if I watch
closely, present to the mystery
in everything? The question
thrills me. And
that matters, too.
The “pregnant moment” is a phrase I learned from my former employer, musical collaborator and dear friend Ricardo Accorsi. Deeply creative, multi-lingual, equal parts architect, artist, and musician, he’s gone now. But his way with language—and life—inspires me still.
Because every moment ischock full of new possibilities. In fact, we do get to choose who we’ll be in each one. What energy, ideas, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and intentions will we bring to it?
If you aren’t sure how you feel about that kind of freedom, consider testing it for a few minutes at a time, like a meditation. Or longer, for an hour, or a day. Or as a week-long experiment.
Soon, with real practice under your belt, you may find it liberating. Because the past is in fact behind us, unless we keep dragging it into each brand new, as yet unlived chance to create who we are and what we want.
And as for the future, well, the truth is, there’s this moment, then the next, and the next. Etcetera. How do we want this one and that one to go? Who will we be in each?
In fact, our way to the future is through each singular moment. Day and night, we get constant opportunities to think, feel, and act as the “who” we are consciously choosing to become.
Today, in this moment and the next, rather than acting and reacting in old ways that may not move you toward what you want most, how will you choose to proceed? What motivates and inspires you, bringing you joy and peace?
Try creating your way today, moment by moment. After all, you deserve such happiness. And I say it’s available right here, in the delicious, ever-pregnant present.
Ready for your kickin’ week, my dears? Jazzed to begin it?
If not, why not? What’s getting in the way? Or is it that yourgoals are great, and in fact the only issue is… well… you? :)
Yep, I’m smiling as I write. Because the truth is that this is, oh, so human.
You aren’t alone
I love the quote above from Ralph Waldo Emerson for just that reason. It acknowledges that we humans tend toward thought patterns that get in the way of our own sunshine.
To me, that fact means we need lots and lots of self-compassion and self-encouragement as important daily parts of our lives. Regular self-affirmation should be in the mix for each of us.
So, toward your kickin’ week, how about crafting a nurturing mantra that you can jam to as needed in the week ahead? Here’s mine, crafted during a powerful iPEC experience:
I trust in the flow of life
I trust in the flow of life. It’s about shushing the specific negative voices that drive my personal train if I don’t check them. What could do the trick for you, so you aren’t darkening your own doorway?
Get super-curious about internal messages that may be raining on your parade, then craft the perfect comeback and game-changer. Have fun with it!
And explore my post on positive mindset to go deeper into some have-fun strategies.
Meanwhile, keep your comeback to negative self-talk light. Just keep an enjoyable inner convo going throughout the week.
Change the game
Whip out a custom-made mantra when and wherever you really need it. It has zero value just propped up in a pretty frame in your meditation corner waiting for you to have the presence of mind—and time—to stop by.
Rock it on your bathroom mirror, in your pocket, as the screen image on your laptop or smart phone. On the visor of your car. Whatever inspires and energizes you.
Deploy it like serious juju throughout your kickin’ week. And as you do that beautiful inner work, reach out for the expert support you deserve.
Have you noticed how we humans have good days and bad days, good moments, ones that don’t represent our best, and everything in between? Are you 100% clear that it isn’t just you?
Yes. Deep breath.
In living the life of your dreams, I invite you to get clear that Every. Single. Moment. is an opportunity to begin again. Are you on track, or off? How often do you step out of all your automatic thoughts and feelings to assess that? It’s a skill, like a muscle you can develop. And it’s all about practice.
Think of it as a healthy ritual that you can make a regular part of your great life.
If you know you’re on track, jam on, managing inner and outer challenges in the process. This management of all things works when you know you’re on the path that’s right for you. Because there’s inherent energy and inspiration in that knowledge that you can ride like a wave.
If you realize you’re off track, congrats, first, on the accomplishment of that honest reflection. Pat yourself on the back for it, cheerleading your own progress. Then assess further. What small or large shift will get you on your path again?
Then, armed with the results of your assessment, begin.
And know that, as wise Ezra Pound says above, you’re in very creative company.