Learning to Love Yourself~ An Ode to Valentine’s Day
by Angie Miller
“To love others you must first love yourself.” Leo Buscaglia
A reflection on love:
In Eastern philosophy, self-love is thought to be the cornerstone of inner peace. A journey toward self-discovery is believed to be essential, as introspection promotes understanding and harmony with oneself, which lends itself to harmony and peace with the world.
Love is the foundation of human compassion toward others, but first and foremost toward oneself. It would be difficult to embrace the differences among us, and to feel empathy toward those with whom we share little in common, if we don’t embrace personal trust and honor. Peace within, promotes universal peace and acceptance.
Learning to love unconditionally and to fully embrace our unique qualities, from our greatest strengths to our most unbecoming weaknesses, is a more daunting task than we sometimes realize. Just as important, and even more challenging is being able to look in the mirror and love the image staring back at us. While there are endless ways to build and secure self-love, I believe that two of the most important are to Maintain Perspective and to Make Peace.
- Maintain Perspective~ Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself from five or ten years ago and yearned to look like that again? What’s more disappointing is to reflect that it was lost on you then, that your mind was shrouded in self-doubt and judgment. Looking back, whether it was your beautiful body shape, or your radiant, wrinkle free smile, it's difficult to imagine that you didn’t see it then, especially now that some of it has faded with age. With that in mind, why waste another day, another moment of self-doubt, judgment, or scrutiny? Isn’t now the time to celebrate your body, your face, your curves, your greatest assets, and yes even your wonderful flaws? We know that time doesn’t stop. We were just reminded of that when we looked at an old photograph. Any more time spent wishing, takes away from time spent living and enjoying life to the fullest. I’ve said before that if we could have a 40-year old mindset with a 20-year old body we’d have killer self-esteem. Don't wait for time to pass to give you perspective on how good you look and how healthy you are. Embrace your body, your mind, and your spirit as it is, the youngest it will ever be.
- Make Peace~ Now that you have embraced perspective, it’s time to authentically make peace with your body. I think it helps to start with a reflection so that we might remember what our body has done for us over the years. Reflecting: How our feet have kept us moving even when we were tempted to sit down and surrender. How our legs kept us standing even when the obstacles we faced made us feel too weary. How our hips, thighs, and abdominals have blessed us with our unique shape. Though they may be the bane of our existence, in another person’s eyes they signify the beauty and grace that makes us women. How our arms have embraced our children and the people we love. How they’ve lifted everything from the heavy load of life’s burdens to the powerful kettlebell we swing at the gym. How our hands have written love notes, held on to those who need our support, and given us the power to do daily tasks and achieve professional accomplishments. How our neck and face may show our age, but thanks to good health and proper care we’ve made it to an age where those fine lines are a badge of honor and a sign of wisdom. How our lips have kissed our children and our lovers, how they’ve formed words we regret and those we’re proud of, but all of which have taught us lessons. How our ears have listened to our children breathe as we watch them sleep peacefully, how they have listened to words from others that wound us, lift us up, educate us, and fill us with information that helps us grow. In the end, we are a culmination of our experiences and our body is an amazing structure that allows us to embrace life and exist on this earth. Far be it for us to do anything less than be appreciative that we are unique, first and foremost, and though we are flawed and fragile, we are blessed nonetheless.
Maintaining Perspective and Making Peace lends itself to personal acceptance, and that’s where it all begins. Personal acceptance translates to self-love, to honoring oneself, and to recognizing that love begins on the inside. The more foster it and allow it to grow, the more we have to share with others.
“The hardest battle you are ever going to have to fight is the battle to be just you.”
― Leo Buscaglia
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com