By Mary Boutieller
It’s time to embrace who we are—fully and with reverence.
How are you doing today, in this moment, as you begin to read this article? What is the felt-sense of your body? Is your heart heavy or light? Is there restlessness or calm, energy or tiredness, sadness or joy? Are you somewhere in the middle or are you simply numb? I ask these questions because we don’t often check in with ourselves. We move from thing to thing, place to place, project to project. We regularly check on others’ well-being, but somehow we ignore our own personal state of being. When did we stop noticing the subtler signs of depletion, exhaustion or even exhilaration or the soft taps on the shoulder that ask us to pay attention…whether to illness or to wonder.
I think that maybe it starts somewhere in childhood, when it is frowned upon to pay too much attention to one’s self. I remember being a bit of a hypochondriac as a child. I often didn’t feel well and realize, now, that it was the only way a child’s mind could think of to get the attention of an exhausted single mother trying to raise five children on her own. And I imagine that I simply wanted to be seen; I wanted to be loved. Brené Brown said, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
We can carry these messages of love or neglect throughout our lives, allowing them to shape and shift us, until, one day, we finally decide that we are worthy, not because we are good or great or smart or athletic, but because we are who we are. And although I grew up to be a strong, competent, courageous woman, still I find that I will sometimes ignore the whispers of love my body and heart try to tell me. The Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” More now than ever, I will pause and inquire about how I am feeling; I will stop mid-flight and realize that what I’m doing is not filling my cup but emptying it. How do we give of ourselves if our own cup is dry?
We start, of course, by tapping in to our own inner voice. We love ourselves enough to allow our body the rest it needs. We release, once and for all, the self-judgmental criticism that haunts our waking minds and tells us we are not good enough. We simply listen inwardly and say “no” and “yes” with compassion, honoring where we are in this present moment.
All of us have more to offer than we think—our own unique set of skills and talents and dispositions—a mixing bowl of amazingly diverse ingredients that make up our collective humanity. We would no more want for everyone to be the same than we would want to eat the same meal over and over again. How boring would that be?! Instead, let’s embrace who we are, fully and with reverence.
Eckhart Tolle said, “You find peace not by arranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”
When we train ourselves to dismiss the messages of our own self-care, we can also risk missing the subtle waves of joy, happiness, and contentment that feed us. We might think that our lives are ordinary, our efforts insignificant…and that can’t be further from the truth.
You, my dear sweet soul, are worthy. Let these words permeate your life. Take time to care for yourself and fill your own cup to overflowing. Let your truth speak louder than the words of others and love yourself unconditionally. You are deserving of your own love.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Beau Taplin: “Self-love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.”
If we want the world to heal, we have to start here. It’s an inside job.