Self-Love ... The Greatest Human Achievement

Recently, one of my very wise coaches, Sara Landon, brought the subject of self-love to the fore. When she spoke about self-love as the greatest of human achievements, I paused. Could this be, I wondered?

I put it to the test, which means that I sat and tried to think of other achievements that could be greater. After some time, I realized that I couldn't find any. After all, aren't we the ones that need to answer to ourselves for all that we do?

If you are like me - someone who is infinitely easier on others than I am with myself -the practice of self-love may seem foreign, if not indulgent. But it is a necessary practice if we want to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. After all, how well can we love others if we don't do such a great job at loving our self?

So what does self-love look like? Sara gives 7-Steps of Self-love to ponder:

The Seven Step Process For Realizing Self-Love

1.) Be Conscious of Your Thoughts. Have a process and exercises for shifting your thoughts when they are not supportive, and use affirmations for self-love, such as "Love is the truth of who I am."

2.) Return To Your Innocence. Use affirmations and processes for forgiveness and releasing shame. Forgiveness becomes less necessary when we realize that every one of us has exchanged parts of our soul for something we thought we needed - such as love, belonging, acceptance, safety and more. This was part of our exploration; there is no need to feel shame about these things. Try this affirmation: "I am choosing better and better words and actions every day."

3.) Care For Your Body. This is a given for many of us who understand the great importance of life-giving foods, plenty of water and rest, exercise and play. Be as good to yourself and your body as you can be!

4.) Notice That Your Needs Are Met & You Are Supported. It is so easy to think about all the things that are missing, or that we don't have. Instead, create a practice of thankfulness for everything ... that you have money to buy gas and food, that you have a warm and comfortable home, and that you can see, can hear, and walk! Begin to regularly notice all the wonderful things that you have and you will feel greater levels of joy!

5.) Speak Your Truth, Have Boundaries, & Say NO. Most of you have taken Compassionate Communications classes with me, so you know the importance of speaking to others about your feelings and needs. Not only is it OKAY to say "No," it is important that you do if you are sensing that something is robbing you of your joy! Be committed to your joy, and you will know what to say to others, kindly and compassionately!

6.) Create A Supportive Environment In Your Life. Know what "supportive" means to you, in your relationships, at home, at work, and in your leisure time, and do all that you can to create an environment in which you will thrive.

7.) Allow Yourself To Explore Your Dreams & Desires. Part of self-love is honoring our creativity, which is a natural aspect of who we are. So start asking yourself, "What do I want to explore next?" And ask this question for any area of life (work, relationship, etc.) where you feel called to do so.

Remember, more moments of self-love lead to greater levels of self-love! Before long, you will not only love yourself more, you will like yourself more!

Then, the sky is the limit!


Living the Good Life...

Whenever I need a reminder of how to live (...finding myself cranky, focusing on what's not "right," or forgetting about all the wonderful things in life), I look at the photo at the top of this page.

This is my amazing dog Teaser; we had 16 joyful years together. Though he transitioned to "happy-dog" afterlife more than a year ago, his spirit lives on in me. Like all animals, Teaser didn't need reminders on how to live; he was simply always present, demonstrating the art of acceptance at every turn. When he felt disappointment (I could actually hear him sigh)...that I didn't have time for a long meander outdoors, that I wouldn't leave the car window open when it was pouring rain, or when he failed to convince me with those gorgeous, longing eyes that another serving of cooked chicken was in order, before too long, he would just settle in peacefully to the "next" reality, which was usually a nap. Any lingering disappointment washed away, and he awoke just as happy to see me as before.

But we humans seem to not be able to do this as easily as our furry friends. We lament, we linger, and we simmer, and even sometimes settle into a state of near-permanent discontent, as I found several years ago. What if, on the other hand, we could be more like our dogs; that is, sigh, take a short nap, and move on? We can; we just need to practice it.

Instead of spending time focused on what is going on in our heads, which most of us do, and according to the spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle, is a form of insanity, we can practice being present. What does this mean? It means doing what we do in life while deeply rooted in the sensory experience of it but also deeply rooted in our observer. The observer is that aspect of us that can see more of what is happening in us and around us, including the thoughts that are moving through us. Resting our beingness in our observer allows us to access much more in life: We feel the cool air on our cheeks, the crisp crunch of the cucumber in our mouths, and the fading mist over the mountaintop, Our experiences become visceral; we are no longer thinking about what we are seeing, we are experiencing it, connecting to the life in us and around us. This is the practice that will help us break our addiction to thinking, which is a direct cause of unhappiness.

To experience any kind of joy in life, we need to break our addiction to thinking and become firmly rooted in our experience in the present moment. To begin, whatever it is that you do today, see if you can give your full attention to it. When you are petting your dog, feel the texture of your dog's hair, observe his or her response to your touches, feel the life force that is moving through them, and feel the relaxation in your body that comes from this loving connection with your dog. Do this in everything you do today, and you are on your way to living the good life!

With love,