It is our business to own up to our inherent spirituality and endeavor to live the healthiest, most loving, most creative lives possible every day. ~Rev. Dr. Margaret Stortz
At fifty-seven years of age, I married, thinking I had finally found the path to happiness and love. Three months later, my new husband dumped me to marry someone else. Once I got past the initial shock , I did a ton of processing. In fact, I wrote a book, Too Much Gold to Flush, The Gift of Infidelity. What started off feeling like a major catastrophe, ended up being my greatest gift, a one-way ticket to truly coming back to myself. The greatest gold I gleaned from this experience was realizing I needed to learn to love myself. Note, I did not say, I learned how to learn myself. Rather, I said I needed to learn how to love myself.
The last eleven-plus years has been all about my quest to discover what self-love means and how to achieve it. Even before my short-term marriage, I struggled with the concept of self-love. At one point, just thinking about somehow obtaining self-love made me feel like I had trod on forbidden ground. The concept of loving myself evoked guilt around selfishness and narcissism. First, I had to tackle what the term self-love means. Eventually, I grew to understand that loving yourself is synonymous with every aspect of self-care, physical, mental, and emotional, yet I still had no idea how to create that in my own life.
Many years ago, I took a course called Effective Living. It was a workshop offered at the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston, Texas. Sister Elizabeth taught us that our thoughts form grooves or patterns of thinking, which grow into our words and actions, which ultimately create our lives. The best way to change a negative thought pattern is to introduce a present tense, personal, and powerful statements to repeat daily as a means of substituting the new affirmation for the negative belief. The workshop offered core affirmations, which served as a starting point for creating my own. As mine came into being, I had a sense they were more than a passing quest for self-improvement. They felt like my personal constitution, bold proclamations of my Truth. These are the ones that I now use:
I am divinely, creatively, and lovingly present.
I am precious, unique, and authentic.
I am the flow of change, and I am grateful for the shift of conscious choosing.
I am One with all souls.
I am the creator of my life; I mold and make my world.
I am my vision, how I see myself and others.
I am entitled to miracles. Through forgiveness I know I am love.
The order and wording of these affirmations evolved over time. Along the way, I also developed a list of life subject areas to which they apply: health, time, passion, relationship, prosperity, joy, and giving. Next I composed a series of questions that lead me step-by-step through these affirmation in order to explore how I want my life to evolve in the seven life areas. The questions are:
Where am I currently (with a particular subject area like health)?
What is my ideal vision for this area of my life? Or where would I like to be?
What choices do I need to make to obtain my new vision?
What are my resources for change, both internal and external?
What ideas, expectations, and fears are standing in my way of change?
Who is in charge of this area of my life, me or external forces?
What am I willing to let go of, and what am I willing to accept?
The summer of 2019, I started writing a short essay for each of the seven questions paired with the subject areas, so seven questions on each of the seven areas, making a total of forty-nine essays. At the end of each essay, I offer journal questions intended to explore how self-love or self-care applies, looking at it through the lens of this particular combination of subject area and question. Also, I suggest creating your own affirmation based on how you answered the journal questions. Finally, I encourage writing a letter from the inner wisdom that knows you better than anyone else, your soul or spirit. Address the letter to you using a term of endearment. For example, mine are to Dearest Butterbean. Allow the texts of these letters to percolate to the surface based on your affirmation and journaling. Allow your inner truth to offer you gentle and loving words of unconditional love, to speak to you with praise, humor, and good-natured kidding.
After working with this concept, I have come to believe that self-love consists of accepting myself unconditionally. It is the ultimate friendship with me, and is based primarily on how loving, kind, and nurturing I am willing to be with myself. This relationship consists of striving toward the best in every area of my life, starting with health and moving through the other six areas, each one of them an integral part of a complete, satisfying, and enriched life.
My intention is to post these essays weekly in a blog format. So please use a special journal for the purpose of exploring what self-love means for you while you respond to the questions, create your own affirmation, and write a letter from your soul to yourself. Your feedback in the form of what worked for you, what didn’t work, and suggestions for improvement will be highly valued.
So here’s to Free-Falling in Love with Yourself, Pat