I have always known… and even lectured others… that we need to love ourselves before we can love others. It wasn’t until I (re)read Brene Brown’s comment this week about how our love for our children is limited by our own self-love that I stopped dead in my tracks. Although I had read it before, for some reason, that comment struck a chord with me. I mean, it really hit me. I am limiting how much love I have for my children. I am limiting how much love I have for my children! Now, I’d typically be the first one to say that my love for my children is unconditional and boundless. I couldn’t possibly love anything in the world any more. Of course I love them more than I love myself – that goes without saying.
However, after reading her comment after the week I had this week, it all made sense. And the reality of it all made me want to cry with heart ache. In a nutshell, this week: too much stress + too little sleep + too many Christmas goodies = a whole pile of self-criticism and even times of self-loathing.
How does this affect my love for my children? I wrote an earlier post about our children believe what we do versus what we say. The ball has come full circle here. When I was in my state of self-loathing this week, I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and shut the world out. I was irritable. I was snappy. I did not make eye contact with my girls. I did not smile at my girls. I withdrew myself, denied their advances to play with me. I was just one big grumposaurus. I even shushed Maya when she tried to tell me something about her day because I was listening to something else. And although my heart still loved them, I did not show them one ounce of love. How could I? My heart was frozen over because of my lack of self-love.
In my work, I often use the analogy of airplane safety with parents: you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can put on your child’s. Same applies here. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of your child. Given my recent insight, I realize that loving myself I the first step. Hard to do. First step? To understand that love is a verb. It’s a doing. To feel love, I need to do love. This is my mission this week: to do loving acts for myself…