The Metta Approach
So Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, and usually around now, I would be rolling my eyes and feigning nausea at all the cutesy cards and “smug marrieds”, passing it all off as commercialised nonsense I would be having nothing to do with.
Not this year.
I’ve changed tack, and I’m embracing it instead. Not just because I think I’m as happy on my own as most people I know that are in partnerships are, but because I am choosing to see it as a celebration of love instead.
And God knows we need more love in the world right now.
So I am choosing love, specifically to spread more love in the world, in an attempt to make even a small difference in overcoming all the fear and hatred that fills our news.
I’m starting with myself, and I’m wondering if you would like to join me in this exercise?
Now we all know how the song goes: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”. We know it, but do we practice it, that is the question?
We need to get specific in order for this to work, we need to know what it means to love ourselves more, and we need to let this really integrate into our everyday lives.
The problem is that I think we are all scared about the concept of loving ourselves too much.
Could we be accused of being egotistical, having ideas above our station?
Would people start saying: “Who do they think they are?”.
Or worse still, could Justin Beiber decide to write a song about us?
We need to get over this, and realise there is a difference between narcissism, and actually just feeling like we are enough, we are loveable, acceptable, and therefore being kind to ourselves.
The sad reality is that most of us don’t believe we are enough, we spend our time pleasing others but not ourselves, we don’t talk as kindly to ourselves as we would do to our friends. We need this self-love now more than ever.
In the Buddhist concept of Metta, or loving kindness, it is believed that all love for others needs to start with loving ourselves, so if we need to see it that it is for others, not a purely selfish act, then this may help us get over this idea we shouldn’t love ourselves too much.
The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have, and perhaps is the key to finding that true romance you may be seeking, as well as improving all other areas of your life.
As Lucille Ball once said: “Love yourself first, and everything else falls into place”.
So how do we love ourselves more? Do we stand in front of the mirror each morning and say to ourselves “I love you” 30 times before we believe it? Maybe. Affirmations do work, but most people that technique is probably a step too far.
Something else you could try is this:
Write down this statement on a piece of paper or in your journal, and without thinking about it, make a list of possible endings.
“If I loved myself more, I would…..”
Just when you think you’ve exhausted the list, write down a few more, and see what comes up.
Then choose one or two that you think you would enjoy, ones that are inspiring but achievable to you, ones that you think will make a big difference, and do them. Go back to the list whenever you need to, but just having written it out will have an impact.
Consider in what ways you may not have been loving or honouring yourself enough. Don’t beat yourself up, but think about what you could do instead. Let the list inspire you to treat yourself better, and think about the effect it could have on those around you.
To get you started, here are some examples:
If I loved myself more, I would….
- Stand up for myself more
- Trust my instincts
- Ask for that promotion
- Not settle for less than I deserve
- Spend more time alone
- Look in the mirror and admire the good parts of my body
- Accept my imperfections
- Honour my boundaries
- Get up on the dancefloor
- Tell them I love them without fear of the outcome
- Laugh at myself when I screwed up
- Respect my body by feeding it the good stuff
- Speak my truth without fear of being trolled!
- Be better at loving others
So why not do something different this Valentine’s Day, and do something that shows you how much you love you?
And who knows, this could just be the start of a the only guaranteed lifelong romance, the one with yourself.