Do you celebrate yourself, the astonishing collection of DNA that navigates the planet looking like you each day? You are worthy of heaps of love! I've decided to look at Love of Self 8 different ways in February. Self-love is the radical acceptance of each inch and ounce of who you have come here to be, so many ways to consider this! Self-love is a practice, one to revisit again and again with greater (as well as depleted) awareness.
Self-sacrifice is a practice I have substituted for self-love. It sounds super noble, no? Putting your needs aside. Keeping the peace. Making the world a little more fair. Still, if the oxygen mask should happen to drop while in flight, will self-sacrifice save more people or self-love? We know that we can't give what we don't have, and we can neglect practicing it. Sacrifice comes from Latin, meaning to make sacred or to make holy. Remember Indigo Montoya and his gentle suggestion to his boss. "You keep saying that word. I don' think it means whata you think it means." After discovering this definition in Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly, I've been looking at the choices that I call self-sacrifice but are actually self-neglect. The difference has much to do with the "squint", that narrowing of focus, that poet and philosopher, Mark Nepo refers to in the lines above. I was talking with a colleague the other day about healthy habits in the new year and drinking more water. She told me that she tried drinking more water, but she had to go to the bathroom so much more, which is impossible to fit into a school day, so she stopped. Do you know how many meals a teacher skips? Is she a teacher so dedicated to student development that she sacrifices her own health or is she a teacher so dedicated to her students that she lives by a story that neglects her own needs? Can you see how easy it is to get behind the myth of sacrifice? We get so busy and we work so much, especially in the US, and our narrow focus creates this little tide pool of stuff we neglect. I was telling my husband the other night about the shock I experienced when the nurse weighed me at a recent well-visit. With love, he said, "you know I think after the last pregnancy you just didn't get back to your original weight" My youngest child is about to turn four. I tell you honestly, I wasn't offended and it didn't start a fight. My first thought was amazement: Is it possible I haven't considered my weight in almost four years? Sure. I have been caring for two kiddos, a marriage, a parent and a career. Without mindful balance that allows for a wider view, I live by the story of "ever onward!"- when the going gets tough, push on (...are you hearing Billy Ocean in your head too?). When I live that narrow, it's easy to skip a meal or hours of sleep or time with loved ones or time alone. Through the birth of those two amazing beings I learned that I can transcend pain and persevere. I didn't comprehend what my body was capable of accomplishing before giving birth. I wouldn't call myself an athlete, at all. I had read many books and made many plans, yet in those hours I sacrificed everything I thought childbirth would be . My body was responsible for the physical work, and what I know as my Self stepped aside. This is how I understand self-sacrifice- widening the view and making holy the surrender of Self to reality.
With love, can you see where you have mistaken self-neglect for self-sacrifice? In radical acceptance ask, "what else is possible for me?"